Prof. Lawrence Pintak, PhD., dean of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at the Aga Khan University received the inaugural Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award from the Religion and Media Interest Group, RMI, of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, AEJMC, in the USA.
The award was presented at a virtual event as part of the annual conference of the AEJMC, the world's oldest and largest alliance of journalism and mass communication educators.
The award recognises the impact of Dean Pintak's teaching, research, and service in all areas outlined in the AEJMC's Code of Ethics: free expression, ethics, media criticism and accountability, diversity and inclusion, and public service.
"Your work with academic journalism programs throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa demonstrates a longstanding commitment to education as a tool of international development and empowerment. The mentorship you have provided has changed lives," said Bellarmine A. Ezumah, chair of AEJMC's Religion and Media Interest Group. "Furthermore, we wish to recognize your contributions to both journalism and academic research regarding Islam and the media."
"This is a great honour but I see what I do as 'paying it forward' for the opportunities I have been given in my journalistic and academic careers," Dean Pintak, a former CBS News Middle East correspondent and founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, told the group in his acceptance speech.
"A stable, healthy society is an informed society. Fact-based reporting is essential to battling the epidemic of mis- and disinformation undermining the well-being, safety and security of developing and developed nations alike – whether that's around vaccines, climate change or, in the case of the US and Europe, coverage of Muslims," Dean Pintak continued. "Journalists in the developing world face particular challenges, under siege from political, economic and social forces. Yet they remain committed to their profession. So it is incumbent on those of us in a position to do so, to provide whatever level of support they think is useful."
Dean Pintak was the 2019 recipient of the AEJMC's Senior Scholar award, alongside being named a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2017 for his service to the profession. He founded the Centre for Excellence in Journalism in Karachi, Pakistan, and directed the Arab world's premier journalism training center, at the American University in Cairo, in the years leading up to the Arab Spring.
The Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi, Kenya, is the region's premier journalism training programme, offering a Master's in Digital Journalism to early-career journalists and an Executive Master's in Media Leadership and Innovation for the region's top editors and media managers. It is also home to a media Innovation Centre and a training unit offering an array of short courses for communications professionals.