Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal wins Harvard award
Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal.Nieman Fellows in the class of 2015 at Harvard University have selected prominent Turkish journalist and writer Hasan Cemal as this year’s recipient of the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
Cemal was chosen in recognition of a long career dedicated to championing freedom of the press in Turkey and as a representative of all Turkish journalists working under increasingly difficult conditions, Nieman Foıundation stated on its website on Dec. 17.
“Hasan Cemal and Turkish journalists like him have shown great courage in upholding the importance of a free press in their native land. Bearing witness and speaking truth to power are more necessary than ever in Turkey and other places around the world where journalists face government hostility, harassment, and arrest,” the Nieman Fellows said.
Cemal has served as a reporter, editor and columnist at various Turkish news organizations. He resigned from daily Milliyet last year after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was the prime minister at the time, publicly criticized a column he wrote in defense of the paper’s reporting of sensitive negotiations between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Cemal resigned after Milliyet allegedly decided not to publish his columns with similar content.
“Critical voices and a free press are vital to a healthy democracy, which Turkey professes to be,” the Nieman Fellows said in their award citation. “We applaud all those like Cemal and others who work to ensure that the media in Turkey can do their job without fear or favor.”
More recently, Cemal helped found and serves as the president of Punto24, a nonprofit initiative aimed at promoting editorial independence, journalistic practice, and the use of digital media in Turkey. He now writes a column for the Turkish news website T24.
Cemal is also the author of 12 books, including the bestselling “1915: Armenian Genocide,” a personal story acknowledging the role that Turkey and Cemal’s own grandfather, Ottoman general Cemal Pasha, played in the mass killings of Armenians in 1915.
His other books have focused on the Kurdish issue, military dominance in Turkey and the country’s far-from-independent media.
The Louis M. Lyons Award will be presented to Cemal at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism during the spring term at Harvard.
The Nieman class of 1964 established the Louis M. Lyons Award in honor of the Nieman Foundation curator who retired that year after leading the institution for a quarter of a century. The award honors displays of conscience and integrity by individuals, groups or institutions in communications, and the winner is chosen each year by the members of the Nieman class. The 2015 class is composed of 24 journalists representing 13 countries, including Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Serbia, Spain and the United States.