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IFJ welcomes decision to revoke prize awarded to journalist known for attacking Roma minority

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 15 September 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Welcomes Decision to Withdraw Bulgarian Award to Racist Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the decision by the 2008 Academy of the Chernoritzets Hrabar award in Sofia, on the recommendation of the Union of Bulgarian Publishers, to revoke a prize awarded earlier this year to a racist journalist.

The prestigious Young Journalist of the Year prize given to Kalin Rumenov, a journalist with the Novinar national newspaper, prompted a protest from other journalists and civil society groups because the journalist is renowned for articles in his newspaper attacking the country's Roma minority in offensive and racist terms.

The IFJ called for the prize to be withdrawn and said that the award this year sent a message "that gives the impression Bulgarian journalism is insensitive to the consequences of intolerance in society."

IFJ General Secretary Aidan White has accepted an invitation to visit Sofia to discuss the issue with publishers and journalists and IFJ affiliates the Union of Bulgarian Journalists and the Podkrepa-Journalists Union.

"We welcome this decision to withdraw the prize and to open a new and searching debate about how to distinguish robust and challenging journalism from unacceptable prejudice and intolerance," said White.

The protests were also supported by the WAZ Media Group, which owns two newspapers in Bulgaria, and which has been cooperating with the IFJ in actions to promote ethical and quality journalism. The WAZ Media Group said the published articles by Rumenov were "openly racist and a blatant violation of OSCE principles as well as the standards of quality journalism."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

Updates alert on the Rumenov case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96795

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