Journalism on the Frontlines of Freedom

April 28, 2022
04:00 pm - 06:00 pm

About the Event

As authoritarian regimes around the world are increasingly emboldened in their efforts to counter and confront democracy and to secure their own grip on power, journalists and independent media outlets that provide accurate news, information, and analysis face increasing risks on the frontline of the struggle for freedom and democracy.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the corresponding shutdown of Russia’s few remaining independent media outlets, and the criminalization of sharing accurate information about the war, highlight both the threat facing journalists from dictators, as well as the power of independent media to unsettle dictators. On another front, in Burma, where courageous, underground, independent media worked for decades to defeat a dictatorship and usher in democracy, journalists find themselves in danger and working from exile once again after last year’s military coup.

For much of the past 30 years, as countless NED partners from some of the most difficult environments would pass through Washington, they were often welcomed by one of America’s most influential journalists, Fred Hiatt.  The longtime editor of The Washington Post editorial page, Fred took a special and personal interest in the stories and struggles of aspiring democrats from every corner of the world and wrote often about their courageous work.  Washington Post editorials forcefully condemned leaders who abused their power and highlighted the cases of those most at risk, appealing to our government and the international community to protect them.

Fred’s passing last December was heartbreaking to so many who lost a friend and champion.  To honor the legacy of Fred’s life and work, NED made a posthumous presentation of the Democracy Service Medal at an event focused on the important work of journalists from frontline countries and the dangers and challenges they face. Fred’s longtime Washington Post colleague and friend Jackson Diehl moderated a brief conversation with a special guest who is also on the frontlines of the struggle for Democracy in Ukraine: Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of Russian opposition politician and Washington Post columnist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is currently detained on false charges in Russia.

Following these discussions, close friends and colleagues paid tribute to Fred as the Medal was presented to the Hiatt family.


Welcome: Damon Wilson, President and CEO, National Endowment for Democracy

Opening Remarks:  Nicholas Benequista, Director, Center for International Media Assistance

Conversation with Frontline journalists and thought leaders: Damon Wilson

  • Roman Badanin, Editor-in-Chief, Proekt
  • Myroslava Gongadze, Eastern Europe Chief, Voice of America
  • Min Zin, Executive Director, Institute for Strategy and Policy Myanmar

Conversation with Evgenia Kara-Murza, Free Russia Foundation and wife of Russian opposition politician and Washington Post Columnist Vladimir Kara-Murza, moderated by Jackson Diehl, Washington Post Editorial Board

Tributes to Fred Hiatt: Damon Wilson

  • Michael Abramowitz
  • Masha Lipman
  • Robert Kagan
  • Carl Gershman
  • Anne Applebaum
  • Donald Graham

Fred Hiatt photo credit, Deb Lindsey, The Washington Post.