In 2017, CPJ's Burton Benjamin Memorial Award was renamed the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award to honor the veteran journalist and former CPJ board member, who died in 2016. The award is presented annually to an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom.
Ifill was the award-winning moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week," the longest-running public affairs program on public television, and co-anchor and managing editor of "PBS NewsHour." She moderated national political debates, including the U.S. vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008, and is the author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama." She was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ifill served as a senior advisor to CPJ until her death. She joined CPJ's board of directors in 2002 and was an active and engaged member for years. She hosted CPJ's International Press Freedom Awards dinner three times (in 2004, 2008, and 2012), and presented awards to journalists from Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka. In 2011, she also interviewed Dan Rather, who was honored with CPJ's 2011 International Press Freedom Award, at a public event. Together, they discussed the core values of journalism, the role of information for a free society, and the state of American journalism.
Below, the inaugural winner of CPJ's Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.