The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday honoured four journalists from Cameroon, Mexico, Thailand, and Yemen for their courageous works amid risks such as government harassment, imprisonment, death threats and exile.
"PBS NewsHour" Managing Editor and broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff was also recognised with first-ever Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award at the event at Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City, said a CPJ press release on Thursday.
The four awardees are imprisoned Cameroonian journalist Ahmed Abba, Mexican correspondent Patricia Mayorga, Thai reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk, and Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser, all of whom have braved various risks in the pursuit of their work.
The 27th annual International Press Freedom Awards and the benefit dinner were hosted by Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent for CNN and CPJ senior advisor, and chaired by CBS News President David Rhodes.
Academy award-winning actor and activist Meryl Streep also addressed the event that was also attended by the families of two recently murdered former International Press Freedom Awardees -- Pavel Sheremet of Ukraine and Javier Valdez Cárdenas of Mexico.
The crowd of nearly 1,000 stood to honour the two journalists and their loved ones following a video tribute to their work and to CPJ's efforts to combat impunity.
"All of us in this room lose sleep over the safety of those who work for us, or with us, in difficult and dangerous places," the press release quoted Rhodes as saying.
"Like all of the news organisations here tonight, we support journalists willing to take risks on behalf of their readers, listeners, and viewers -- and their right and need to be informed."
Reminding the importance of American leadership on press freedom, Amanpour said: "We need the US to be a beacon -- a defender, not a destroyer, of First Amendment values everywhere.
“The brave journalists we honour tonight certainly think so. They have paid dearly, some with their lives or liberty, to report the news."
The press release said that Thai reporter Rojanaphruk, who faces sedition charges for his critical reporting on Thailand's junta, received his award from Financial Times US Managing Editor Gillian Tett at Wednesday’s event.
Veteran journalist and "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker presented the award in absentia to Abba, the Cameroon correspondent for Radio France Internationale who has been imprisoned since 2015 on terrorism charges for his reporting.
Actor Meryl Streep presented Mayorga with her award, said the release. Mayorga, a correspondent for Mexico's Proseco and founder of the Free Journalism Network, was forced to flee Chihuahua state by death threats for her reporting on corruption and human rights.
BuzzFeed News World Editor Miriam Elder handed the award to Afrah Nasser, an independent Yemeni blogger who currently lives in exile in Sweden.
Judy Woodruff, who has covered politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, NBC, and PBS, received the inaugural Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for her work in advancing press freedom. She is also a founding co-chair of the International Women's Media Foundation.
The award is named in honour of the late journalist and CPJ board member Gwen Ifill, who co-anchored "PBS NewsHour" with Woodruff.
"I dedicate this award to all journalists across the land, who are determined to stay true to the facts, true to their mission, despite the efforts to silence or intimidate them," said.
Addressing the event, Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ's board, thanked David Rhodes for his leadership under which the committee have raised over $1.9 million to help journalists in trouble across the world.