CPJ’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, previously known as the Burton Benjami Memorial Award, was renamed in 2017 to honour a veteran journalist and former 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,” notes the CPJ website.
Notable past recipients of the award include Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian who was awarded in 2012, The Associated Press’s Kathy Gannon who was the recipient in 2015, and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour who received it in 2016.
In a statement released by the CPJ to announce the award, it observed that at a time when journalists and media in Pakistan were facing extraordinary pressure, Abbas continued to be a vocal supporter of steps taken to keep journalists safe. He was elected as the chairman of Editors for Safety in 2015, a body of editors who work to provide protection to journalists who faced threats. “Zaffar Abbas is the embodiment of journalistic courage, which is why the board is so pleased to honour him with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of the CPJ board.