The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Park Center for Independent Media,Jeff Cohen,

Journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Center for Media and Democracy Share Izzy Award Honoring Independent Media


The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College has announced that its fourth annual Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media will be shared by a journalist who reported firsthand on the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt and a public interest newsgroup that probed efforts by a corporate-funded organization to generate state and federal legislation.

The award will be presented to Sharif Abdel Kouddous and to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) at a ceremony at the college on Tuesday, April 10. Kouddous and CMD executive director Lisa Graves will each speak at the ceremony, with details on the time and location of the event to be announced at a later date.

The Izzy Award is named after dissident journalist I.F. "Izzy" Stone, who launched his muckraking newsletter I.F. Stone's Weekly in 1953 during the height of the McCarthy witch hunts. Stone, who died in 1989, exposed government deceit and corruption while championing civil liberties, racial justice and international diplomacy.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous

Kouddous covered the 18-day Tahrir Square uprising of Egyptians against dictatorship and the upheaval that followed as a correspondent and senior producer for Democracy Now! The Izzy Award judges noted that, "With breathtaking bravery, Sharif's unflinching on-the-street reporting simultaneously brought us the voices and faces of Egyptians, the drama of the moment and big-picture analysis -- sometimes while tear gas or live rounds exploded in the background."

An HBO documentary, In Tahrir Square, chronicled the uprising through the reporting of Kouddous. His tweets, reports and analysis from Egypt have been widely posted in other media outlets, including The Nation, Foreign Policy, Egypt Independent and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Born in the United States and raised in Egypt, Kouddous joined Democracy Now! in 2003 as a volunteer before becoming a producer. In 2008 he was arrested while covering protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a fellow at The Nation Institute.

Center for Media and Democracy

The Center for Media and Democracy is being honored for its investigative work on "ALEC Exposed," which probed the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded organization that has promoted a wish list of pro-corporate legislation into law in state after state and in Congress. Triggered by a whistleblower, CMD's investigation analyzed and exposed more than 800 ALEC "model bills" -- on issues ranging from the environment and education to workers' rights and voting rights -- that were developed in secret by legislators sitting side-by-side with corporate lobbyists. CMD made its investigation public in July in collaboration with The Nation magazine, and the expose has sparked months of news coverage in mainstream and independent outlets.

The Izzy Award judges commended CMD for its "high-impact journalistic work that turned a bright light on a powerful institution that had largely operated in darkness."

CMD has been doing investigative reporting since 1993, with a special focus on corporate and government propaganda. It is the publisher of PRWatch, SourceWatch and BanksterUSA.

Judges of the Izzy Award are Park Center for Independent Media director Jeff Cohen; University of Illinois communications professor and author Robert W. McChesney; and Linda Jue, executive director and editor of the San Francisco-based G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism.

"Both Sharif Abdel Kouddous and the Center for Media and Democracy continue the Izzy Stone legacy of fearless journalism that stands up to the powerful and stands with the forces for change," said Cohen.

"This year's winners were selected from an exceptional pool of diverse nominees," said Jue. "Amid social upheaval at home and abroad, independent media outlets had a stellar year monitoring institutional power, chronicling systemic problems and pointing toward solutions."

Previous winners of the Izzy Award are author/columnist Robert Scheer; New York's in-depth outlet City Limits; investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill; blogger Glenn Greenwald; and Democracy Now! host/executive producer Amy Goodman.

The Park Center for Independent Media, launched in 2008, is a national center for the study of media outlets that create and distribute content outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations. Throughout history, technological and social upheaval have given rise to independent media voices. Today, independent media are growing amid crisis and conglomeration in mainstream journalism, and the rise of the Internet and new forms of media production and distribution. The Center's mission is to engage media producers and students in conversation about career paths in independent media, and financially viable ways to disseminate news and information. The center examines the impact of independent media institutions on journalism, democracy, and a participatory culture. Jeff Cohen is the foundi