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Moroccan journalist to receive Newhouse’s Tully Award
Moroccan journalist to receive Newhouse’s Tully AwardJanuary 29, 2008Wendy S. Loughlinwsloughl@syr.edu
Aboubakr Jamai, a Moroccan investigative journalist whose reporting led to a jail sentence, near financial ruin and forced exile from his country, will receive the first annual Tully Center Free Speech Award from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Thursday, Jan. 31. He will speak on “The Risks and Importance of Free Speech” in a conversation with Barbara Fought, associate professor of broadcast journalism and director of the Tully Center, at 7:30 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in SU pay lots.
A former investment banker, Jamai co-founded Le Journal Hebdomadaire, Morocco’s leading weekly newspaper, in 1997 and Assahifa al-Ousbouiya, an Arab language weekly, in 1998. In 2000, the Moroccan government permanently banned both papers because of stories revealing government scandals and misuse of funds. The papers eventually reopened using slightly different names.
In 2001, Jamai was convicted of defaming Foreign Minister Muhammad Ben Aissa after an article in Le Journal alleged that Aissa had profited from the purchase of an official residence in Washington, D.C. Jamai was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay fines and damages totaling $2 million daharim (equivalent to $200,000 U.S. dollars). The sentences were eventually suspended, but Jamai was forced to resign from Le Journal in 2007 and is now living in the United States.
Jamai won the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award in 2003 and was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader for 2005. He was a Yale World Fellow in 2004 and a Nieman Fellow in 2007. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Higher Institute of Commerce and Management at Casablanca and an M.B.A. from Oxford University. He is currently enrolled in the M.P.A. program at Harvard University.
The Tully Award is given annually to a journalist who has faced obstacles to free speech. The original slate of nominees for this year’s award was put forth by a distinguished panel of professionals, including Lucy Daglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Rami Khouri, director of Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs in Beirut; Camille Massey, senior advisor to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; Stewart Purvis, City University professor and former head of ITN, London; and Joel Simon, head of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Jamai was chosen from the pool by a committee of SU students and faculty, including Colleen Keltz, a media management graduate student; Sarina Morales, a senior broadcast journalism student; Daniel Hayes, assistant professor of political science; Lynne Flocke, professor of newspaper; and Fought. “Jamai is a great candidate for the first Tully Center Award because he demonstrates the persistence needed to maintain free speech, a quality that can be forgotten in regions where free speech is taken for granted,” says Keltz.
Endowed by the late Joan Tully ’69, the Newhouse School’s Tully Center educates university students and the public about the important value of free speech through education, resources and research.