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Gazeta Wyborcza deputy editor Piotr Standinski, third from right, holds an award during the opening of the World Media Congress on September 28, 2022, in Aragon, Spain. Organized by the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) this annual congress brings together the world's press and aims to protect the rights of journalists and publishers, as well as to promote media freedom and independence.Marcos Cebrian/Abaca Press

The World Association of News Publishers has awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom to the Warsaw-based newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and its foundation, which have offered financial and technical support to Ukrainian journalists during the Russian invasion.

WANP recognized the Polish newsroom’s investigative journalism, as well as its work denouncing neo-fascist organizations and fighting disinformation and polarization.

The foundation supported Ukrainian news outlets after Russia’s invasion by delivering more than 48 tonnes of newsprint, financing 50 Ukrainian news organizations on a weekly basis and helping more than 150 journalists in Ukraine receive regular salaries.

“We often say nowadays: be brave like Ukrainian journalists, so let’s be brave in our decision not to leave Ukrainian media alone. Let’s not leave any independent media facing oppression alone,” Joanna Krawczyk, head of partnerships at Gazeta Wyborcza and president of the board of the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, said in a statement.

She added that the “deteriorating condition of Polish democracy means that civic engagement is needed now more than ever.”

In 2021, the American non-governmental organization Freedom House noted that a crackdown by the Polish government on judicial autonomy, press freedom and vulnerable minorities was threatening the country’s democracy.

The Golden Pen of Freedom recognizes one news organization each year that stands out as a “beacon of independence and as a bulwark against authoritarianism.” In 2019 it was awarded to slain Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Last year’s recipient was the shuttered Hong Kong news source Apple Daily and its jailed founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai.

“Each of our laureates, stretching back to the very first Pen, embodies a set of values that underpin our industry,” Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of the Straits Times in Singapore and president of the World Editors Forum, said in an announcement about this year’s award.

“Increasingly challenged, these values are defended worldwide by journalists, editors and news publishers who recognize the importance of free media.”

The award was presented to Gazeta Wyborcza during an event in Zaragoza, Spain. WANP has been administering the award since 1961.