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That’s incredible news! UNESCO Director General Audrey Azouley has nominated me “Chair” (President) of the Jury awarding the UNESCO “Guillermo Cano” World Press Freedom Prize, i.e. the world prize for freedom of the press awarded every year to a journalist standing out for his/her commitment to freedom of the press and expression.
For two years s/he has been serving as a member of the jury made up of six independent journalists from various continents, journalists chosen by the UNESCO director motu proprio. I worked with enthusiasm and frank discussion with colleagues from all over the world. This was already a daydream. And now I’m very pleased and I know this is a great responsibility. When they called me last November I could not believe it: I thought there was a misunderstanding (the person who called me spoke perfect English with a strong Brazilian accent) and therefore I expected my letter of appointment, which arrived shortly after New Year’s day. Then the news was for a long time under embargo until it was officially communicated by UNESCO.
So here I am: it is me, Marilù, President of the Jury awarding the “Guillermo Cano” World Press Freedom Prize awarded by UNESCO. It is me, the one who founded the Tacco d’Italia in 2003, and then a small publishing house, a cooperative of journalists and women journalists, the Forum of Mediterranean Women Journalists (now in its sixth edition)… I have also become Member of the Board of the Master in Journalism at the University of Bari, I have won a competition for Contract Lecturer in “Press Office and Media Relations” at the UNIBA Master’s Degree course in “Political and Business Communication”. One step further stumbling, falling but always getting up. Keeping my gaze fixed on the goal: to carry out this totally free profession, in control of myself, with a single publisher: female readers who believe in this way of providing information.
Thousands of times I have wondered if this tenacity of mine were vanity, if the humility and doubt that a journalist must cloak would have induced me to retreat, to stop, to admit that this way, in Italy, one cannot conduct journalism. I’ve never done it, though. I often had to slow down, because the many legal actions did not give me respite. And I couldn’t write because I had to defend myself and all my time I was busy writing memoirs and sorting out papers or looking for new ones, or answering interrogations from investigators. I slowed down, but I didn’t stop. It’s time for me to accelerate now. It’s the harvest time. There is a new member of the jury, my colleague Zainab Salbi (Iraq), who has done great things for information and women since her childhood. She is a visionary. I love those who have the ability to imagine and then roll up their sleeves to make those visions a piece of reality. I will work side by side with Zianab Salbi and David Dembele (Mali), Wendy Funes (Honduras), Hamid Mir (Pakistan), Alfred Lela (Albania). A really good team, at the service of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression, information and knowledge. In my region, Puglia and Salento in particular, free information has always been seen as a threat by territorial, political, criminal and “mafia” powers, so being a president can help me open a constructive debate, even online, about role of journalism as a key tool for democracy, therefore for peace.
For the first time in history an Italian is called to fill the role of President of the UNESCO jury: consider me, as always, at your service to bring your voice as high as I can.
Read more: Two leading women journalists to join 2021 Jury of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize