ROWENA PARAAN, national chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and former research head of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, has been named one of the world’s 100 information heroes by the journalists’ group Reporters Without Borders (RWB).
The group released its list of 100 information heroes as part of its commemoration of World Press Freedom Day next week.
“Through their courageous work or activism, these 100 heroes help to promote the freedom enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” RWB said in a statement. “They put their ideals in the service of the common good. They serve as examples.”
Paraan was cited for her work as head and safety officer of the NUJP, and for her tireless efforts to secure justice for the families of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. More importantly, Paraan has also been very active in strengthening the network of community journalists in the Philippines, and for fighting for their rights and their welfare.
“She has constantly pressed authorities for justice for the victims and their families and an end to impunity,” RWB said. “She now faces a charge of contempt as a result of her commitment.”
Paraan joins 99 other information heroes from 65 nations around the world, ranging from an author of a bestselling book on Mexican corruption, to a Turkish journalist who “has been prosecuted a score of times for his reporting,” to a Burundi journalist who was jailed for 15 months for interviewing a rebel movement.
The list also included the head of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a group that has “contributed to the emergence of global investigative journalism.”
There are controversial people in the list as well, including Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whom RWB acknowledged as one who generates either admiration or condemnation. “Julian Assange divides opinion – some see him as an advocate of transparency, others as a terrorist,” RWB said. “Assange has become a symbolic victim of a system that too easily confuses journalism with terrorism.”
Another is Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who has written extensively about Osama bin Laden, and at one point was even described by some as his biographer. RWB also noted that he has been accused of being a Taliban sympathizer as well, although “the Taliban dispelled those suspicions by putting a bomb under his car in November after he defended the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.
The full list of the RWB information heroes may be viewed here.