Pulitzer Prize Winner: Give Voice to the Voiceless

Clifford J. Levy, a twice Pulitzer Prize Winner, gives lecture to students in Baptist U. Photo: Evita Li

Clifford J. Levy, a twice Pulitzer Prize Winner, gives lecture to students in Baptist U. Photo: Evita Li

HONG KONG—Reporting dissents and impunity can impel justice to be done, a Pulitzer Prize Winner from New York Times said yesterday at Baptist U, adding that covering dissent is “to give voice to the voiceless”.

Clifford J. Levy, a twice Pulitzer Prize winner, gave a speech named “Covering Russia” at the Pulitzer Prize Winner Workshop held by Baptist U yesterday. “Covering dissents is meaningful because you focus on the problems and you are showing the struggle in society to try to correct the problems and improve it,” Clifford said.

As the Moscow bureau chief of New York Times for five years, Clifford’s series report “Above the law”, focusing on the dissents in Russia, ranging for freedom of speech, impunity, social injustice to environment protection, won him the 2nd Pulitzer Prize in international reporting category last year.

The voice of dissents should be heard because people only challenge authorities when something is wrong and changes should be done, Levy said, adding that where there is “feedback between the ruler and the people”, where is “a progressing society, and that is why journalist should care the freedom of speech in China.

“Being a journalist in China or Russia, to some extent, is being a dissent,” Levy said and illustrated the first report he made in Russia. Mikhail Beketov, a Russian journalist who reported under-the-table hush money and corruption, pays in blood for his articles, fingers bashed, beaten savagely and legs amputated. According to Levy, in a society with impunity, no justice was done to the injured journalist. Levy strengthened, when reporting dissents, using vivid cases to illustrate the bigger picture is more powerful than finding someone or something is famous.

Journalists are not to crusade but to report, not to change but to tell the truth, according to Clifford Levy. He said journalists should always remember “not be part of the story” but to “write the story”.

Tatyana Kazakova, a former village mayor in Siberian who stood up to protect her people, was later set up by F.S.B., a successor of K.G.B., in jail for more than two years and was forbidden to meet her children. After Levy’s report “Russian Mayor Irks Security Agency, and Suffers”, suffering the pressure from the public opinion, F.S.B. sent her free.

“As journalists, we believe that by what we are doing, we are focusing attention on problems of society and often we are causing something good to happen. And it is better than salary,” Levy added, “it is just as good as huge salaries.”

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