Gruner + Jahr | Hamburg, 05/08/2014

Henri Nannen Award for Efforts for Independence of the Press

Subject: Society, Media & Services
Country: Germany
Category: Prizes & Awards

Gruner + Jahr and "Stern" pay tribute to the American journalist and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras by giving her the Henri Nannen Award 2014 for her efforts for the independence of the press. The award will be presented on 16 May in Hamburg.

The award-winning documentary film director and producer Laura Poitras has been dealing with the work of the US secret services for a longer time now. When former NSA employee Edward Snowden contacted her, she was the first to pursue his story. She played a decisive role in the first publication of the NSA documents. She became a target of the American intelligence agencies herself in 2006 when she presented her film "My Country, My Country", a documentary about the American military policies in Iraq. From then on she had to go through extra security checks at airports; officers confiscated her notes and electronic devices and interrogated her for hours.

When Edward Snowden contacted Laura Poitras anonymously in early 2013, he did so because he knew how critically and fearlessly she reports about such issues. Laura Poitras was familiar with encoding techniques for secure communications with informants, and she was able to evaluate the relevance of the information offered by Snowden. After she meticulously checked the credibility of the informant, she travelled to Hong Kong with her colleagues Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill to meet with the former NSA employee. For months, Greenwald and Poitras analyzed the documents, published their insights and uncovered the biggest surveillance scandal in history. To this day, they are still analyzing Snowden’s material.

Laura Poitras was born in 1962 in Boston, Massachusetts and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and the New School in New York. Since then, she has made five films, most recently "The Oath" about the Guantanamo prisoner Salim Hamdan. Poitras is one of the initiators of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Since February 2014, she has been working for "The Intercept", which she founded together with Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill.

"Stern" editor-in-chief Dominik Wichmann says, "We can all thank Laura Poitras' journalistic work for learning about the massive global surveillance by the NSA. What we have seen in authoritarian regimes in the past is increasingly spreading in the democratic world now: the readiness and willingness to disrupt investigative journalism. The journalists who try to uncover misbehavior of the people in power have to expect to get stopped at borders, interrogated and constantly watched. The Department of Homeland Security also judged Laura Poitras to be a 'terror suspect'. The commitment, dedication and professional competence that she displayed in cooperation with Glenn Greenwald and the colleagues of 'The Guardian' in uncovering the NSA scandal is therefore even more remarkable. She receives the Henri Nannen Award 2014 for her selfless struggle for truth and the freedom of information and the press."

Gruner + Jahr and its magazine title "Stern" present the annual "Henri" for the tenth time. In addition to the outstanding efforts for the independence of the press and a lifetime achievement in journalism, it honors the best journalism published last year in German-language print and online media. Journalists applied for the "Henri 2014" with 912 works (in the categories reportage, investigative accomplishment, documentary, essay, photo reportage and for the special prize). The award is endowed with a total of 35,000 euros.