Gebran Twini award [Archives:2006/1007/Viewpoint]

December 14 2006

Two days ago, I was among the most miserable, frustrated people in the world. Then, yesterday I was among the happiest persons on earth.

No, I am not a moody nut case; I am an editor trying hard to give my best in a troubled country, in difficult times.

I am a journalist, who when on the verge of frustration, was recognized and appreciated.

I had received the Gebran Tueni award presented to me by the World Association of Newspaper in memory of late Tueni editor of Annahar newspaper in Lebanon. Tueni who gave a lot to press freedom until the day he died, one year ago.

I was chosen for my commitment to the values upheld by Mr Tueni: attachment

to freedom of the press, courage, leadership, ambition, and high managerial and professional standards. These values are the legacy my father late Dr. Alsaqqaf passed to me. When I celebrated Tueni in Lebanon, I felt as if I were celebrating my father. It was then when I realized that I was not only commemorating Tueni and Alsaqqaf, I was commemorating all the free and brave journalists who did not spare anything for the sake of freedoms, even their lives.

It's been one year since Tueni died, and 7 since my father was killed in a suspicious car accident. But still we remember them, and we remember many others who left us a legacy to live up to.

Two days ago, I was asking my self why the hell do I bother about deadlines and news stories, when I should be enjoying my time with my 8 months old daughter who was tugging on my dress wanting to play with the keyboard.

But then yesterday I knew the answer, it is because what I say and do matters, and because we can make a difference through our work. We are the voice of the poor, deprived and discriminated. Timothy Balding, CEO of WAN said it has been a bloody year for journalists, the worst on record, and no more so than in Arab countries. That is true, but also it was a year when journalists were the news instead of just writing them. And we brought our case to the front line.

This award is to my father, who taught me so much, who always said to me “hard work never hurts” whenever I would try and go the easy way.

This is to my Yemeni colleagues in the media, both men and women, who are struggling to find their grounds and identify themselves in this messy world. This is to all the freedom fighters and activities around the world.

Sending them all a message, that despite the hardships, if we put our heart to it, we CAN.