Journalists Anna Nemtsova and Mwape Kumwenda have been arrested, oppressed, or held at gunpoint — but this won’t stop the two women from continuing their work and telling stories for the public good.
Nemtsova, a Moscow-based correspondent for The Daily Beast and Newsweek, and Kumwenda of Mulvi Televisioin in Zambia, joined actress Emilia Clarke and Shivani Siroya, CEO and Founder of InVenture Mobile, at TheWrap’s seventh annual Power Women Breakfast on Wednesday.
Kumwenda, Nemtsova and Honduran freelance journalist Lourdes Ramirez (not on stage during the Q&A) are the winners of 2015 Courage in Journalism Awards from the International Women’s Media Foundation, recognizing journalists for their remarkable bravery in the pursuit of their profession.
“Journalism is the best profession,” said Nemtsova about why she continues doing the job despite personal threats. “I feel responsible to tell the story, to give people a chance to be heard.”
Nemtsova has been covering the war in the Ukraine for two years now, and was one of the journalists who reported on the shot-down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the Ukraine. Her coverage got her detained by authorities.
“You report during the day, file in the evening, and then they arrest you on some checkpoint,” Nemtsova said. “They wear masks, they are armed … I had been covering abductions for many years, but when it’s happening to you, you think, this is it …. You think about your mother, you think about your child.”
Kumwenda, who has been under constant scrutiny for her coverage of social justice in Zambia, and has gone undercover to report about government corruption and murder in national security prisons. According to her, Zambia does not have the necessary laws for access to information and the freedom of press.
For one particular story, where she reported on government officials stealing funds from Zambia’s Constituency Development Fund, she was offered bribes and manipulated to stop her running the story. Her editor, she said, even wished to remain silent after the amount of scrutiny the story received.
But that didn’t stop her, either, and she fought to get the story published.
“I don’t feel very intimidated, I don’t feel very scared about doing my work because I know I am doing it for the public good,” she said. “It’s based on the truth, and the bible says, you shall be saved by the truth.”
Watch the video for more of Kumwenda’s and Nemtsova’s stories, and why they still pursue journalism.