CPJ is honored to present its 2018 International Press Freedom Award to Venezuelan journalist Luz Mely Reyes.
Investigative reporter Luz Mely Reyes has covered politics in her native Venezuela for more than 25 years. Her first day as a reporter coincided with former President Hugo Chávez's first coup attempt in 1992.
Reyes began her journalism career at a local newspaper in the coastal city of Maracay. She then moved to Caracas, the capital, where she worked as a freelancer and covered politics for the daily newspaper El Nacional.
In 2002, she became politics editor at Últimas Noticias, which at the time was the country's most popular daily newspaper. She led the outlet's investigative unit from 2005 until 2012, when she was named editor-in-chief of Diario 2001, becoming the first woman to hold this position at a national newspaper in Venezuela. The next year, the national attorney general's office launched an investigation into the paper, alleging it had published false information and demanding to see Reyes' sources. Reyes quit the paper in 2015 and co-founded the independent news website Efecto Cocuyo, along with fellow journalists Laura Weffer and Josefina Ruggiero, to work on "journalism we believed in."
The website, which grew from three reporters with an iPad to a team of nine contributors and 12 full-time employees with the help of a successful crowdfunding campaign and supportive donors, has become a champion of independent journalism.
Reyes and her team at Efecto Cocuyo host training workshops and panel discussions, and collaborate on investigative projects with international journalism organizations as well as news outlets from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.
Press freedom has steadily deteriorated in Venezuela, where journalists reporting on the country's growing political, economic, and human rights crises are doing so under dangerous and repressive conditions. Scores of journalists, including those from Efecto Cocuyo, were attacked and threatened while covering violent protests that erupted against the government of President Nicolás Maduro in 2017.