Montenegrin Journalist Wins Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism

  • By Amy Dunkin
Jovo Martinović

Jovo Martinović, known for his extensive reporting on organized crime in Europe and war criminals in the Balkans, is the 2018 winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.

The award will be presented in a ceremony at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY on Sept. 27, 2018. In addition to the Newmark J-School, other partners in the award are the Global Media Forum Training Group, the U.S. branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Martinović is a veteran freelance investigative journalist from Montenegro who has worked for such international outlets as NPR, BBC, VICE, CBS, Canal Plus, The Economist, TIME, The Financial Times, Global Post and the Balkan Investigative Reporting network (BIRN).

In October 2015, Montenegrin authorities arrested Martinović on charges of marijuana trafficking and participation in a criminal organization, detaining him for more than 14 months despite the prosecution’s failure to substantiate the allegations.

The charges against Martinović were filed in the wake of his investigations into drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, and other criminal activity. His prosecution – as well his long and unjustified pre-trial detention – has been widely criticized by international human rights groups and press freedom advocates.

The 44-year-old Martinović, who has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence, was released from custody at the beginning of 2017. But he is still facing trial – and up to 10 years in prison if convicted. His freedom of movement has been restricted, as the court has possession of his passport. He is obliged to report to the police each month and has been unable to work full-time as a journalist — to support his family or pay his defense expenses.

“The Balkans was a region my father covered extensively and got to know intimately through several conflicts. I can think of no greater tribute, on this tenth year of the award, than to recognize the achievements of a journalist who has courageously and at great personal cost devoted himself to reporting truth from that part of the world,” said Camille Mackler, Peter Mackler Award project director at the Global Media Forum Training Group.

This year’s ceremony is the first to take place at the Newmark J-School, the new home of the Mackler Award. The award presentation will be followed by a panel discussion about press freedom in the Balkans and a networking reception. Tickets can be purchased here.

Unable to accept his prize in person, Martinović plans to attend the Sept. 27 award event via video conference.

“We are delighted to help administer this important journalistic prize,” said Dean Sarah Bartlett. “Many of our students are intent on pursuing international reporting, and the courageous journalism celebrated at this event will serve as a tremendous inspiration to them.”

Family and friends of Mackler, a distinguished international journalist who worked for Agence France-Presse, United Press International, and the Associated Press, founded the award in 2008 to continue his work after his passing.

Over the last nine years, the Peter Mackler Award has recognized journalists from Sri Lanka, Russia, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Pakistan, Syria, Burundi and Mexico, all countries where the practice of journalism requires considerable courage.

At the time of his death in June 2008, Mackler was chief editor for North America at Agence France-Presse. In 29 years at AFP, he also served as chief editor in Asia, desk chief in Paris, director for Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, senior correspondent for Europe, senior international correspondent, and Iraq war coordinator.

In 2004, Mackler founded Global Media Forum (GMF,) a consortium of top international reporters dedicated to media training. After his death, the Mackler family transformed GMF into Global Media Forum Training Group (GMFTG,) a not-for profit dedicated to the promotion of good journalistic ethics and courage under pressure.

For more information about the Peter Mackler Award, contact Project Director Camille Mackler at 917-655-3548 or cmackler@pmaward.org.