Bennett addresses Peter Weitz journalism prize winners
On Thursday, September 18, GMF hosted Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) to address the recipients of the Peter R. Weitz Prize for excellence and originality in U.S. reporting on Europe and the transatlantic relationship.
In his speech, Senator Bennett addressed the recent crisis in the Caucasus, arguing that while Russia's campaign in Georgia was indeed a tactical victory, it will prove detrimental to Russia's regional power in the long term. He characterized Russia as an emerging petro-state whose international power is based on high global energy prices rather than a strong domestic economy. He also addressed the current financial crisis, highlighting the global implications of what happens in the American financial services market.
The Weitz Prize, received this year by Wall Street Journal reporter Andrew Higgins and freelance journalist Mary Wiltenburg, was established in 1999 in memory of Peter R. Weitz, former director of programs at GMF, for his interest in promoting coverage of European affairs by American journalists. Past winners of the senior prize include Colin Nickerson of the Boston Globe, Marcus Walker of The Wall Street Journal, Sebastian Rotella of the Los Angeles Times, Craig Whitlock and Peter Finn of the The Washington Post, Roger Cohen of The New York Times, and James Kitfield of National Journal. The senior prize is open to all journalists working for American publications; the junior prize is for journalists 35 and under. Winners are selected by a jury of distinguished American and European journalists.
Higgins, staff reporter with The Wall Street Journal, has been awarded the $10,000 senior prize for his reporting on Europe published between January and November 2007. Focusing mainly on religion, Higgins' articles provide insight into secular and nonsecular issues currently confronting Europe. While the growth of Islam has alarmed many in Europe and given rise to more atheist groups, Christian immigrants have returned to the continent a faith that was thought to be lost two centuries ago. As century-old churches are being replaced by rented halls supported by U.S.-influenced evangelical groups, Higgins explains in his articles how economics has played a key role in the revival of a Christian campaign that is reinvigorating Europe.
The $5,000 junior prize for outstanding coverage of Europe by a journalist under 35 has been awarded to Wiltenburg, a freelance reporter whose award-winning stories appeared in The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor, for her work profiling U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany. In her articles, Wiltenburg details life in Germany through the eyes of a U.S. soldier, life in the United States through the eyes of their German neighbors, and U.S.-German perspectives on the Iraq War.
"Through this award, GMF is proud to be able to carry-on the vision of Peter R. Weitz in bridging the divide between the U.S. and Europe through strong transatlantic reporting," said GMF President Craig Kennedy. "Our 2008 recipients represent the best in their field, and we are pleased to be able to acknowledge their achievements, especially at a time when foreign reporting is on the decline."