The Third Annual Ron Ridenhour Awards were presented on April 4 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Ridenhour Awards “seek to recognize and encourage those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society.” The 2006 awards were given to Gloria Steinem, Anthony Shadid, and Rick Piltz.
|Rick Piltz, founder and director of Climate Science Watch, accepts Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling|
The 2006 Ridenhour Courage Award, given to an individual in recognition of a life-long defense of the public interest and a passion for social justice, went this year to Gloria Steinem, a leader in the feminist movement and founder and consulting editor of Ms. Magazine. The Ridenhour Book Prize, which honors an outstanding work of social significance from the prior publishing year and recognizes investigative and reportorial distinction, went to Anthony Shadid, Washington Post reporter and author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s people in the Shadow of America’s War. The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, awarded to a citizen, corporate or government whistleblower, investigative journalist or organization for bringing a specific issue of social importance to the public’s attention, went to Rick Piltz, founder and director of Climate Science Watch and former Senior Associate in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Office.
The awards are presented by The Nation Institute and The Fertel Foundation in partnership with The Fund for Constitutional Government, the Project on Government Oversight, the Government Accountability Project, and the Federation of American Scientists.
About Ron Ridenhour:
In 1969, Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour wrote a letter to Congress and the Pentagon describing the horrific events at My Lai — the infamous massacre of the Vietnam War — bringing the scandal to the attention of the American public and the world. Ridenhour later became a respected investigative journalist, winning the George Polk Award for Investigative Journalism in 1987. He continued to write, produce, and lecture until his unexpected death in 1998 at the age of 52.
Also see the fine essay by Randy Fertel, “Remembering Ron: The Whistleblower Paradox,” which includes the lines:
Speaking truth to power, whistleblowers are crucial to the health of a free society and inevitably troublesome to the powerful. In a democracy, whistleblowing is one of the unlegislated checks and balances. Or, if investigative journalism serves an open society as a fourth estate, watchdogging the activities of the other three, then whistleblowers are a kind of fifth estate. They help to make organizations accountable and individuals responsible for their actions. Corporations and public servants can do nefarious things behind closed doors, but they never know who in their ranks will feel ill at ease enough to come forward and make wrongdoing public.