Kathy Gannon accepts the 2014 Tara Singh Hayer Award

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
On December 3, CJFE presented the 2014 Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award to Canadian journalist and Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon at the 2014 CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting. Watch the entirety of Gannon's speech below, or, read the full transcript underneath the video. For more highlights from this year's Gala, see The best moments from the 2014 CJFE Gala.


Thank you so much. I am so honoured to receive an award that champions free expression from an organization dedicated to protecting our right to freely tell the stories that need to be told. I am also hugely grateful to be here when so many of our colleagues and friends are not, having given their lives chasing down those stories, and so many others are recovering or living with horrific injuries that have changed their lives and still others are sitting in jail, wondering what tomorrow will bring—all because they sought through their stories, photographs and videos to make us more aware and more understanding of the world. It has been a brutal year for journalists worldwide. According to CJFE, 90 journalists have died, and according to Reporters Without Borders, another 176 have been jailed so far this year. We are being hit from every side. The likes of the Islamic State hold us hostage and brutally execute us to further their demands or punish our governments for things we have no control over. The FBI pretends to be an AP reporter, oblivious or indifferent to how their actions compromise our rights and play right into the hands of the likes of the Islamic State, putting the lives of journalists in the field—on the frontline—in danger. And no one has it harder than local journalists: the lifeblood of every news organization. I remember doing a story in Quetta, in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. It was about local reporters caught between the vicious Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group, the often brutal Baluch secessionist movement and an irresponsible government. I interviewed Irshad Mastoi. He was with a local news agency. He said he routinely received calls from the militants ordering him to public their comments verbatim or die. Usually the call was followed by one of the government press people warning him that publishing statements by militants is an offense punishable by jail. “What do you do?” I asked. “I publish them. I don’t want to die.” But on August 28 this year he did die. He was shot and killed along with a young reporter, who was in his final year of journalism school. Still there are no arrests. I don’t think anyone is even looking. It is because of this indifference shown by so many governments that organizations like the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, or the Committee to Protect Journalists, are so important. They are the antidote to indifference. They remind us of who we have lost and they warn us of what we are in danger of losing. If I could just take one more minute to say a few other thank you’s—to my family in Pakistan and Arizona who couldn’t be here and to my family who is here: my brother Robert who has always been there to support me and to my sister, Patricia Ann, who has not left my side since the beginning of this ordeal. She has been my hands, my friend, my sister. To my friends, many of whom are here, who have showered me with kindness and love, and to the Associated Press, who is represented here tonight by Senior Vice President Kathleen Carroll. It was AP that found the remarkable surgeon who literally rebuilt my left arm. When this happened I didn’t know what to expect but AP has surpassed all my expectations. They have been kind, caring and devoted to my progress, to getting me through this. Kathleen has been my advocate, protector and friend. Months ago, the AP president Gary Pruitt, knowing this was going to be a marathon, said: “Kathy I just want you to know that as time goes by, we won’t forget. We will be there for you if there is anything that you need.” And they have been. Thank you.

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