Hamburg, 18 April 2013 - The local newspaper journalist René Wappler has been awarded the Henri Nannen Prize 2013 for special services rendered to press freedom. Wappler works in the local newsroom at the Lausitzer Rundschau in Spremberg, Brandenburg. The Gruner + Jahr publishing house and stern magazine award the coveted Henri Nannen Prizes annually.
In April 2012, Wappler reported on a parade of masked young Nazis in front of the Bismarck monument in Spremberg. Shortly after the report the Lausitzer Rundschau editorial office in Spremberg was sprayed with right-wing slogans, the front window looking onto the street was daubed with blood, and pig entrails were hung on the editorial sign. Despite several further attempts at intimidation, Wappler continued to report on the right-wing scene in his hometown. His Editor-In-Chief Johannes M. Fischer offered to transfer Wappler to another newsroom for his protection, but Wappler refused and continues to write from Spremberg. His research shed light on the extent and structure of the radical right-wing groups. The Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior has commended the Lausitzer Rundschau for its vigilant coverage of neo- Nazis, which is discomfiting and inconvenient for right-wingers.
René Wappler was born in Cottbus in 1971 and studied communication sciences, Slavic and politics in Munich. After university he returned to his hometown as a journalist for the local newspaper, the Lausitzer Rundschau.
Stern Editor-In-Chief Andreas Petzold says: "Violations of press freedom don't just take place in other countries and in the problem areas of our world. Freedom of the press is threatened in our own country, by individuals or groups. René Wappler was not intimidated by the 'lying press, shut your trap' slogans on the walls of his newsroom. Quite the opposite. He stood up to the personal threats, defending freedom of the press with his reports and writing about the right-wing scene in his home region - even if some consider him a traitor. He encounters the people he writes about every day. They know each other personally; the danger for local journalists such as René Wappler is palpable and immediate. He receives the Henri Nannen Prize 2013 for outstanding services to press freedom for not yielding to intimidation and for defending press freedom at a local level - at the roots of democracy. And he also receives it as a representative of his many colleagues in local journalism who do their job as professionally and fearlessly as he does."
This year, Gruner + Jahr and stern magazine present the 'Henris' for the ninth time. In addition to the prize for services to press freedom and a Lifetime Achievement award, it honours the best journalistic work published in German-language print and online media during the previous year. Journalists submitted 802 works (in the categories of Reportage, Investigative, Documentary, Essay, Photojournalism and the Special Prize) to be considered for the '2013 Henris'. The awards are endowed with total prize money of €35,000.
The awards ceremony hosted by Jörg Thadeusz and Linda Zervakis takes place at Kampnagel in Hamburg on 26 April 2013. It will be live streamed at stern.de from 19:30.
For further information about the Henri Nannen Prize, please visit www.henri-nannen-preis.de
Henri Nannen Preis Communications
Gruner + Jahr AG & Co KG
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