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Scene Last Night: Rather, Amanpour, Harold Evans, Brian Roberts

Committee to Protect Journalists
Natalya Radina, recipient of a International Press Freedom Award and editor in chief of Charter 97. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Umar Cheema, a reporter in Pakistan, was kidnapped, beaten and dropped by the roadside.

Natalya Radina of Belarus, editor in chief of the news website Charter 97, fled her country to avoid imprisonment.

The office of Javier Valdez Cardenas, a reporter and newspaper co-founder in Sinaloa, Mexico, was hit by a grenade.

And Bahraini Mansoor Al-Jamri restarted his paper, Al-Wasat, in August after it was shut down, although he faces criminal charges for allegedly publishing false news to incite Shiite unrest.

Last night these journalists gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria to accept International Press Freedom Awards from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The organization promotes press freedom and supports imperiled journalists worldwide. So far this year, it has documented 40 journalists killed and 70 forced into exile.

“I feel safe here, far from the bullets,” said Valdez Cardenas in the hotel’s ballroom. Among the 900 guests were New York Times managing editor Dean Baquet; New Yorker editor David Remnick; Michael Oreskes, a senior managing editor of the Associated Press; Reuters editor-at-large Harold Evans; and Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg.

Press outlets filled the tables at the awards ceremony and fundraising dinner, as did Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, Citigroup Inc., Barclays Capital Inc. and HSBC Bank Plc. Thomson Reuters Corp. hosted the pre-dinner reception and Google Inc. the post-dinner gathering.

Live Auction

NBC’s Brian Williams led what he called a “humanitarian live auction,” requesting donations by show of hand. The auction brought in $85,000, helping the event raise $1.4 million.

The event’s chairman was Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. and chairman of NBCUniversal.

He said getting the story is “unglamorous, dirty, hard work.”

The host of ABC News’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour” served as emcee for part of the event. Dan Rather received the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in defending press freedom.

Eynulla Fatullayev, an investigative reporter in Azerbaijan who was in prison in 2009 when he received the International Press Freedom Award, accepted belatedly. He was freed in May with the CPJ’s support.

‘A Human Face’

Valdez Cadenas said he writes about organized crime out of concern for the victims.

“I’m very sensitive, maybe romantic,” he said. “I don’t just count bodies. I try to give a human face to the good guys and the bad guys.”

Radina, who lives in Lithuania, continues to publish stories about Belarus’s dictatorship.

“I am stubborn. My goal is for my country to be free. I will not stop.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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