A list of Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalists
While journalists and media organisations are currently being recognised through nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, let’s have a look at the list of journalists who won the top honour in the Nobel Prize’s 120-years of history, published by the Philippine online news website, Rappler.
The prize, named after Sir Alfred Nobel, is awarded to ”those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”, according to his will of 1895.
Multiple journalists have received the award, signifying their contribution to the peace movement.
The Swiss peace advocate Elie Ducommun was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1902 “for his untiring and [skillful] directorship of the Bern Peace Bureau.”
He also did journalistic work for a big part of his life and his major contributions to the journalism were editing the political journal Revue de Genève, Helvétie, and the news sheet Les États-Unis d’Europe, and the periodical of the Ligue internationale de la paix et de la liberté (International League for Peace and Freedom), and founding the radical journal Der Fortschritt (Progress).
Even after becoming the honorary general secretary of the International Peace Bureau in 1891, he continued to prepare or edit various articles of writing for peace societies and international peace congresses.
Ernesto Teodoro Moneta
Italian journalist Ernesto Teodoro Moneta – described as a “militant pacifist” – was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1907 “for his work in the press and in peace meetings, both public and private, for an understanding between France and Italy.”
Though having a military background, the journalist started a normal life later on, assuming the role of an editor for the daily newspaper Il Secolo in Milan from 1867 to 1895.
According to the Nobel Lectures, “he forged Il Secolo into a powerful instrument for shaping public opinion without compromising its editorial balance.”
For instance, he allowed Il Secolo to take an anticlerical stance, believing that certain abuses among the clergy impeded Italian unification and social progress and he also campaigned for reforms in the Italian army in the paper’s columns.
Apart from his various major journalistic works, Moneta participated in peace congresses and also represented Italy in the Commission of the International Peace Bureau in 1895.
Alfred Hermann Fried
The Austrian journalist, Alfred Hermann Fried, received the top honour in 1911 “for his effort to expose and fight what he considers to be the main cause of war, namely, the anarchy in international relations.”
He took part in the peace movement by founding, editing, and/or writing for publications and journals such as the Monatliche Friedenskorrespondenz (Monthly Peace Correspondence) and Die Waffen Nieder! (Lay Down Your Arms) which was replaced by Die Friedenswarte (The Peace Watch), among others
After the World War I erupted in 1914, Fried shifted his work to Switzerland from Germany and continued to publish Die Friedenswarte to cater to international peace efforts.
He published Mein Kriegstagebuch (My War Journal), a record of his and his colleagues’ sentiments and activities during the war and led a journalistic campaign against the Versailles Treaty to push his propaganda for peace that “the war was proof of the validity of the pacifistic analysis of world politics.”
British journalist, author, and economist Norman Angell was awarded the prize “for having exposed by his pen the illusion of war and presented a convincing plea for international cooperation and peace” in 1933.
After migrating to America, Angell became a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and then the San Francisco Chronicle.
He later went to Paris and worked as a sub-editor of the Daily Messenger, staff contributor to Éclair, a correspondent for American papers and eventually became the editor of the Paris edition of Lord Northcliffe’s Daily Mail in 1905.
In 1912, Angell resigned from his post and devoted himself to writing and lecturing.
The Great Illusion, Angell’s most major work, brought upon a theory widely known as Norman Angellism, which posits that “military and political power give a nation no commercial advantage, that it is an economic impossibility for one nation to seize or destroy the wealth of another, or for one nation to enrich itself by subjugating another.”
He published dozens books on various topics such as currency problems, patriotism, collective security, and national sovereignty in an organized society, and wrote for newspapers and journals regularly, and even edited Foreign Affairs from 1928 to 1931.
Carl von Ossietzky
Ossietzky’s recognition was one of the notable controversies in the history of the Nobel Prize. The German journalist was awarded “for his burning love for freedom of thought and expression and his valuable contribution to the cause of peace.”
After working for multiple publications since the start of his career in 1926, Ossietzky assumed the role of editor-in-chief of Die Weltbühne (The World Stage) following the death of its founder and editor Siegfried Jacobsohn.
As the editor, Ossietzky was tried and convicted for libel and sentenced to one month in prison over the publication of an article in March 1927 by Berthold Jacob, “which criticized the Reichswehr for condoning paramilitary organizations.”
Later in March 1929, Ossietzky was charged with betrayal of military secrets and was convicted, sentenced to 18 months in prison for publishing an article by Walter Kreiser that essentially opposed secret German rearmament which violated the Treaty of Versailles. However, the journalist was released in only 7 months after having been granted amnesty in 1932.
Ossietzky was again arrested in February 1933, and later kept in a concentration camp due to being considered a traitor to many Germans as an international campaign for Ossietzky saw him as a “symbol of democratic resistance against Hitler.”
Germans-in-exile and anti-fascists in democratic countries campaigned to secure the Nobel Peace Prize for Ossietzky.
The Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 was awarded to Ossietzky, but the government didn’t allow his release from the concentration camp and told him to decline the prize. To this, Ossietzky refused so the German press was prohibited from commenting on this awarding, and Hitler forbade Germans from accepting any Nobel Prize in the future.
Ossietzky was kept under constant surveillance till he reached his deathbed in a hospital.
The Yemeni journalist, activist, and politician, Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. She shared the award with two other laureates “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Karman is the co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, which produces reports on human rights abuses and attacks against the press in Yemen.
She began the campaign for the ouster of then Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2007 through articles in Yemeni newspapers, meanwhile leading weekly sit-ins in Sana’a, calling for various democratic reforms.
Karman also took part in the Arab Spring in 2011, which involved protests against ruling governments in multiple Arab countries, over which she faced arrests on multiple occasions.
One of Karman’s arrest led to bigger protests against the Saleh administration, which made her the leader of this movement upon her release. This role earned her the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 32.