5 Lessons Learned at the IWMF's Courage in Journalism Awards
These words of wisdom extend beyond being a journalist, really.
On Tuesday evening, Hollywood gathered together for the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards to celebrate courageous female journalists who risk their lives to report and bear witness to global issues. Co-hosted by Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Lieve and actress Eva Longoria, the event honored Mwape Kumwenda, reporter for Muvi Television in Zambia; Anna Nemtsova, contributor for The Daily Beast and Newsweek in Russia; Lourdes Ramirez, freelance investigative journalist in Honduras; and Linda Deutsch, a special correspondent and trial reporter (retired) for the Associated Press.
As each honoree accepted her award in front of a crowd that included Olivia Munn, Julie Bowen, Hannah Simone, Darby Stanchfield, Zelda Williams, Ahna O'Reilly, Rowan Blanchard and 21st Century Fox evp and chief communications officer Julie Henderson (also the event's Benefit Committee Chair), we took notes from the recipients' speeches and learned a thing or two on what it means to be a truly dedicated journalist. Here, a look at what it takes to succeed in the field — and in life, too.
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1. It's a man's world, but who cares? Go for what you want.
"I did not think about whether it was a man or woman's profession. My father had said to me, 'You can do anything you want in this life. Just pick what you want to do,'" recalled Linda Deutsch, who became the only women writing for the Associated Press in the L.A. bureau in the late 1960s. "There was a lot of discrimination. Women had to fight to write news and I had to prove myself probably more than the guys did."
2. Be so good, you can't be ignored.
After spending almost 50 years as a reporter, Deutsch offered these words of wisdom to anyone who's interested in pursuing journalism: "I think if you want to be a journalist today, you have to have a passion for it. A passion that can't be quenched by any other occupation. You have to prove that you are so good that the news business can't live without you."
ON THE CARPET: Linda Deutsch, left, and Darby Stanchfield. (Photo: Getty Images)
3. As long as you believe in your work, you will succeed.
"Journalism in the country plays a very pivotal role in steering development in the country. We're now the information guards between those in authority," said Kumwenda, who earlier this year exposed the misuse of public funds and an illegal land grant by the ruling parties in Zambia. Despite being threatened by public officials, she expressed: "I believe my work is centered on nothing but the truth, so for me, as long as the story borders on the truth and the public interest, I will continue doing the story."
4. Be confident.
Kumwenda thanked her late father, Henry, for shaping her confidence, recalling his words, "'My daughter, you're so powerful you can ask the president questions and he will answer you.'" In other words, as long as you stand up for what you believe in, others will (eventually) follow suit.
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5. Don't wait for an opportunity — create your own.
A photographer once told Nemtsova, "We are witnesses, we need to be on the ground. We need to see with our own eyes. We need to hear with our own ears. And we need to return to the same place, over and over again." The Russian reporter, who now risks her life to cover the Ukraine conflict, didn't wait for her first assignment from an editor — she created the opportunity herself. "I bought my own ticket to the war. I was so scared to go that first time," she recalled of taking the leap to cover the Chechen War. "As a freelancer today, I still make my own choice — when and where I go."