Recognizing Philadelphia's Finest on World Press Freedom Day

By Peter Chawaga and the GPA team

World Press Freedom day was established by the United Nations to celebrate the principles of free information, defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to the journalists who have lost their lives in pursuit of the stories that need telling. Philadelphia has a rich history of supporting journalistic freedom and integrity and today, the city’s renowned and diverse collection of media outlets continue that tradition. Below are a few of the many Philadelphia journalists that deserve recognition on World Press Freedom day for the work they do bringing the world to Philadelphia, or showcasing Philadelphia to the world.

Trudy Rubin writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Worldview column on international affairs, which runs on Thursdays and Sundays. From 2009 to 2011, she made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she has visited Iraq eleven times and has contributed reports from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea. She is the author of “Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq,” a book of her columns from 2002 to 2004. In 2001, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Terry Gross is the host of Fresh Air, an hour-long daily national program that has been produced by WHYY in Philadelphia for 16 years and is the third most listened to program on National Public Radio. It is carried on 435 stations nationwide. Her thought-provoking conversations are also broadcast in Europe and Japan via satellite. In 2003, Gross received the Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio.



Inga Saffron started at The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1984 as a reporter in Burlington County. She grew up in Levittown, New York, a suburban community, and wanted to write about cities being rebuilt. Cities are her passion. In 2012, she completed a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Saffron's "Changing Skyline" column has been a feature in The Inquirer since 1999. Pushing beyond the usual boundaries of architectural criticism, her columns focus on the buildings and public spaces that Philadelphians encounter in their daily lives. She applies a reporter's skills and sensibility to explore the variety of forces - political, financial, and cultural - that shape the city. Her columns on waterfront development, zoning, and parking issues have led to significant changes in city policy. She was named a finalist three times for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, and received the prestigious award in 2014.

Chuck Stone (1924 – 2014) was a university professor, civil rights activist and man of strong character. Stone wrote for the people of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1991, serving as the senior editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. The first president of the National Association of Black Journalists and founding member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, Stone brought attention to police brutality, racial tensions, and the need for diversity and integration in Philadelphia. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Stone’s pursuit of truth through reporting has carved a legacy of integrity for all journalists to follow in.

Felix Varela (1788 – 1853) was a Cuban-born, Roman Catholic priest who founded the first East Coast Spanish-language newspaper, El Habanero in Philadelphia in 1824. A prominent philosopher, educator, and civil rights advocate, Varela’s work centered on immigrant populations (specifically first-wave Irish refugees) and cooperation between multilingual communities. Today, Philadelphia’s Al Dia news source honors Varela’s legacy with the “Félix Varela Award for Excellence in American Journalism on Latino Issues,” the largest prize offered for journalistic work in this category.




Michael Matza is a Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer who focuses on immigration. His in-depth coverage has seen him as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice. As the Inquirer’s veteran foreign correspondent, he has worked as a reporter based in the Middle East. His stories have shed light on the issues immigrants face in Philadelphia, across the country and around the globe.



Hernán Guaracao is the founder and chief executive officer of Al Dia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Journalism from the University of Bogotá and his master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Guaracao started Al Dia as an eight-page newsletter 20 years ago. His pet project was based out of his home in North Philadelphia, but it soon grew into much more than that.




Peter Van Allen covers hospitality, marketing and retail for the Philadelphia Business Journal, a role that often sees his reporting take an international turn. Telling the stories of global business leaders in the hotel, commerce and development industries as they come to Philadelphia, Van Allen is one of the city’s key gateways to international business. Anyone who doubts Philadelphia’s place among the international business elite need look no further than Van Allen’s reports.




Kenneth Lipp edits online content and writes about Philadelphia for The Declaration, a news website highlighting the city’s politics, arts, culture and activism. Lipp reports on law enforcement, activism, surveillance technology and practices, and general political and social issues. His stories are driven by a passion for government transparency and the reader’s right to information.



Joanne Stocker is a multimedia journalist and researcher focusing on gender, social movements, refugees and the Middle East. Her reporting embraces the advent of data in a way that illustrates the gravity of her topics of choice. As a freelance reporter she covered Philadelphia’s Occupy Wall Street movement. In her work for the Safeworld International Foundation, she reports on Iran and the Middle East and brings issues of gender equality to light.


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