An African man stands at a podium and speaks into a microphone while holding a an acrylic award statuette
Eloge Willy Kaneza, reporter from SOS Média Burundi, receives the 2016 Peter Mackler Award during an awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, October 13, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB

Eloge Kaneza of VOA’s Kirundi Service honored for his courage

Journalist Eloge Willy Kaneza, a representative of a collective of mostly anonymous reporters in Burundi, where press freedom is threatened, is the 2016 recipient of the Peter Mackler Award, which rewards courage and journalistic ethics.

Kaneza, 34, is the face of SOS Médias Burundi, a group created after the closure of several radio stations following an attempted coup by the army to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza in May 2015. Violence in Burundi had broken out the previous month after outgoing President Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term.

Using smartphones and mobile applications, Kaneza and his colleagues work “under difficult circumstances as the only source for their fellow citizens and those outside Burundi,” the organizers of the award said.

“Not only does Eloge Kaneza embody the journalistic values the Peter Mackler Award seeks to honor, he and his colleagues have also found creative ways to push back on repression using online technologies,” said PMA Project Director Camille Mackler. “He is a role model.”

“Since we did not have microphones or studios, we still had our smartphones to cover the #BurundiCrisis in 2.0,” the reporters told the group’s website.

Kaneza is a journalist who is not afraid and “a great reporter who fights to get versions of all parts of the story,” said Negussie Mengesa, director of Voice of America’s Africa Division.

The award will be presented on October 13 in Washington at the National Press Club.

About Global Media Forum Training Group (GMFTG)

The Peter Mackler Award honors reporters and editors who have demonstrated a commitment to fairness, accuracy and speaking truth to power and a matching commitment to asserting the right to publish or air that story in countries where independent media is under threat. The Award was founded in 2008 in memory of Peter Mackler, Agence France-Presse’s former editor-in-chief for North America, who passed away abruptly in 2008. The Award is a project of the Global Media Forum Training Group (GMFTG), a 501 (C) (3) organization controlled by the Mackler family, in partnership with Reporters Without Borders and Agence France-Presse, among other international media groups.