Colombian journalist awarded for courage

Emma Collins

An award-winning journalist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee visited WKU on Tuesday to receive the Fleischaker/Green Award for Courageous International Reporting.

Jineth Bedoya Lima, the recipient of the award, is a Colombian journalist who has spent years covering the war between the Colombian government and the revolutionary group FARC. Bedoya is the first recipient of the Fleischaker/Greene Award which is given by the Fleischaker/Greene Fund for Excellence in First Amendment Issues at Western Kentucky University.

President Gary Ransdell said Bedoya is one of the world’s great journalists because of her courageous humanitarian work and her inspiring story. He said Bedoya is one of the most important people to visit the university’s campus this year.

“We’ve had a lot of business on our campus this year, but the honor of being part of this ceremony tonight is something that I hold very dear and that’s very special,” Ransdell said.

Loup Langton, director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, echoed Ransdell’s sentiment when he said Bedoya’s presence on campus was an honor for the university.

“She embodies everything a journalist should aspire to hold: a sense of dedication, professionalism, fairness, a deep rooted caring for others, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and of course, great courage,” Langton said.

Bedoya said throughout her time as a journalist she has investigated various war-related topics such as illegal arms trafficking or living conditions in prisons. She was kidnapped twice, and during her first kidnapping, she was raped and tortured by three of her captors.

Bedoya said it was not until 2009 that she felt comfortable recognizing herself as a victim of sexual violence and the war her country is embroiled in. After acknowledging she was a victim, Bedoya said she started an initiative dedicated to raising awareness around violence against women. Her initiative, No Es Hora De Callar or There is No Time for Silence, has since become a well-known campaign.

During her speech, which was translated by WKU Spanish professor Melissa Stewart, Bedoya said the hardships she has endured have been worth it. She said the Fleischaker/Greene Award will only increase her motivation to continue this work as a journalist and an activist.

“There is no greater award than one that we receive from those who will carry on with our arduous work of informing and communicating,” Bedoya said.

Reporter Emma Collins can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @thebest_dilemma.