Press release

The Henri Nannen Award 2009 goes to: Katja Thimm (reportage), Beat Balzli, Jochen Brenner, Klaus Brinkbäumer, Ullrich Fichtner, Hauke Goos, Ralf Hoppe, Frank Hornig, Ansbert Kneip (documentation), Melanie Bergermann (investigation), Oliver Maria Schmitt (humor) und Yang Yankang (photo article)

Hamburg, 07 May 2009 – Other winners of the prize, which is awarded by Gruner + Jahr publishers and stern magazine, include Jürgen Leinemann for his life's work and Robert M;eacute;nard for his special commitment to freedom of the press

This evening marked the fifth time that Gruner + Jahr publishers and stern magazine have presented the Henri Nannen Award to honor top performances in German-language print journalism. The 14 award winners were honored at a celebratory event at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg in front of around 1,200 prominent guests from the world of media, culture, politics and economics.

"Our global economy, and with it the worldwide media industry, is experiencing a crisis of a new dimension. However, this year we decided to honor and celebrate the best journalists of the year regardless", explained G+J President Dr. Bernd Buchholz, "because it is these journalists that keep on fighting to educate their readers day after day – and this includes information about the background and state of the crisis. In times of economic and political insecurity, it is they who strive to replace people's uncertainty with reliable and factually founded opinions. And it is they who produce quality journalism and thus make a crucial contribution to diversity of opinion and plurality. They are pillars of the democratic community."

With the Henri Nannen Award, Gruner + Jahr and stern magazine place emphasis on the importance of ambitious print journalism, while nurturing it and at the same time commemorating the work of stern founder Henri Nannen (1913-1996). The prize is worth a total value of 30,000 Euros. In addition, winners receive the "Henri", a bronze sculpture of Henri Nannen designed by Berlin sculptor Rainer Fetting, in memory of his life's work.

The Henri Nannen Award 2009 was presented to Katja Thimm (reportage), Beat Balzli, Jochen Brenner, Klaus Brinkbäumer, Ullrich Fichtner, Hauke Goos, Ralf Hoppe, Frank Hornig und Ansbert Kneip (documentation), Melanie Bergermann (investigation), Oliver Maria Schmitt (humor) and photographer Yang Yankang (photo article). Gruner + Jahr publishers and stern magazine also honored Jürgen Leinemann for his life's work and Robert Mé;nard for his commitment to freedom of the press.

In their session on May 7, 2009, the main judging panel decided to award the prize for "best reportage" (Egon Erwin Kisch Prize) to Katja Thimm. The winning work is a reportage from "Spiegel" magazine about two couples who live with Alzheimer's disease and who fight in vain against the progressive deterioration it brings. The judging panel describes "Rolf, ich und Alzheimer" (Rolf, me and Alzheimer's) as a "tragic story of development" which the author followed at close hand for one-and-a-half years. She then wrote about it in an excellent, very touching and yet completely unsentimental way with great sensitivity, authenticity and a high information value. In their statement, the judging panel said: "Katja Thimm confronts us with a part of our reality that is of growing importance; she does this excellently while imparting a nightmarish feel."

In the documentation category, a team of eight authors was honored for their contribution "Der Bankraub" (the bank robbery), a text that was published in "Spiegel" magazine. Three times as long as a usual cover story, the text uses various protagonists and locations in Europe and the USA to describe the reasons for and the development of the financial crisis. The excellently researched, very informative and comprehensive text montage combines macroeconomics and the smallest unit with boardroom decisions and the fate of those affected by foreclosures in a dramaturgically brilliant way. The documentation presents difficult aspects in an interesting and clear style that is easy to understand. "The big crisis", said the jury, "is particularly easy to comprehend in that brief moment where it actually hits the person affected by it."

The judging panel gave the Henri Nannen Award for "best investigative work" to "Wirtschaftswoche" author, Melanie Bergermann. "Ich habe Sie betrogen" (I betrayed you) is the title of the work which was published in February 2008, written long before the first signs of a banking crisis appeared. For her revealing report, the journalist was able to induce customer advisors from various financial institutions to talk openly for the first time ever about the disturbing practices they are forced to use by their bosses and because of the pressure to sell products. The jury found that Melanie Bergermann "proved that experts systematically lie to and betray people, especially those who depend on accurate advice".

The Henri Nannen Award 2009 in the "exceptionally entertaining and humorous coverage" category goes to Oliver Maria Schmitt for his satirical farce. The journalist acted as an unknown young and talented Turkish author and tried to sell the manuscript of an allegedly promising bestseller at the Frankfurt book fair. In his article, which is entitled "Ich bin dann mal Ertogrul" (So I am Ertogrul then) and was published in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", he wrote about the reactions of critics, agents and publishing house managers.

Photographer Yang Yankang, who received a Henri Nannen Award in 2005, received the award in the "best photo article performance" category for the second time. The photo article judging panel was impressed with the expressiveness and the archaic poetry of the black-and-white exposures that Yang Yankang used to show the variety of shapes present in Tibetan Buddhism, as well as its spiritual power.The photo series is entitled "Die starke Kraft des Glaubens" (The great power of faith) and was originally published in "Geo" magazine.

Journalist and author Jürgen Leinemann received the Henri Nannen Award in honor of his journalistic life work. As a sharp observer of the upper echelons of politics, he has gained intimate insight into the inner workings of politics. This formed the basis for his precise personality profiles of top-ranking German politicians. He has portrayed the majority of the political elite in the Federal Republic of Germany, such as former chancellors Gerhard Schröder and Helmut Kohl, as well as Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Kurt Biedenkopf and Franz Josef Strauß, among others. Andreas Petzold, stern editor-in-chief, said, "The work of Jürgen Leinemann is an example of outstanding high-quality journalism. His almost psychoanalytic slant on the people he portrays and writes about has added to his mastery of perceiving their limits. But despite his no-holds-barred opinions, this fastidious researcher and ruthless analyst has always played it fair". The speech in Jürgen Leinemann's honor was given by his friend of many years, theatre manager and director Jürgen Flimm.

Robert Mé;nard received the Henri Nannen Award for his commitment to freedom of the press. Together with three other journalists, he founded the organization "Reporters without Borders" (Reporters sans fronti;egrave;res) in 1985, and was its secretary general from 1990 to 2008. He has lobbied for democracy, freedom of the press and protection of human rights his entire life.

With spectacular activities which have always made a great impact, he has informed the world's public of violations against the rights of freedom of expression and information. Over and over again, he has emphasized that there is no freedom without freedom of the press, and he has also successfully campaigned for the release of detained journalists.

Andreas Petzold, editor-in-chief stern magazine and member of the judging panel praised Mé;nard as a courageous worldwide campaigner for freedom of opinion: "His commitment to freedom of the press at considerable personal risk is exemplary. With this commitment, he has saved lives and rendered outstanding services to democracy. It is this achievement that we particularly honor in the form of the Henri Nannen Award for freedom of the press".

For the Henri Nannen Award 2009, journalists submitted 948 articles in total. These articles came from 208 German-language print and online media and were published in 2008. In total, 355 entries were submitted in the reportage category, 253 in the documentation category and 210 in the humor category, along with 74 entries in the photo article category and 56 entries in the investigation category. From these, the jury members chose a total of 16 entries by 30;nbsp;journalists in five categories for the final round of the competition to win the "Henri".

An elaborate classification procedure and a top-class jury of experienced journalists, authors, editors-in-chief and publishers from large German publishing houses guaranteed the independence of the selection process for the award.

Jurors for the Henri Nannen Award included: Gabriele Fischer (editor-in-chief brand eins), Peter-Matthias Gaede (editor-in-chief GEO), Elke Heidenreich (journalist and author), HansWerner Kilz (editor-in-chief Süddeutsche Zeitung), Giovanni di Lorenzo (editor-in-chief Die Zeit), Helmut Markwort (editor-in-chief Focus), Andreas Petzold (editor-in-chief stern), Ulrich Reitz (editor-in-chief Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung), Frank Schirrmacher (publisher FrankfurterAllgemeine Zeitung), Cordt Schnibben (author DER SPIEGEL) and photographers Ellen von Unwerth and Thomas Hoepker, as well as photo and art book publisher Gerhard Steidl, who judged the photo reportages.

For further information about the Henri Nannen Award, please visit

Your contact for enquiries:
Susanne Hacker
Henri Nannen Award Communication
G+J Corporate Communications
Tel: +49 (0)40 3703 2729