The Sophie Prize 2003:
The Jury's Decision

The winner of the Sophie Prize 2003 is the internationally renowned Australian journalist and film-maker,

John Pilger 

The Norwegian Sophie prize 2003 is awarded to one of the world’s most outstanding and courageous journalists: the Australian reporter John Pilger. Pilger has over the last 30 years contributed to uncovering the lies and propaganda of the powerful, especially as they relate to wars, conflict of interests and economic exploitation of people and natural resources.

John Pilger is a strong defender of human rights and stresses that these rights are for all. His documentaries, articles and books have provoked debate on the hidden agendas of power.

“He has through his integrity, thoroughness and courage, strengthened democracy and human dignity. He has managed to engage the public - morally and politically – for the protection of the powerless”, says the President of the Sophie Foundation, Elin Enge. 

The world is presently facing enormous challenges. Peace, stability and even the very institutions that have been established to mitigate war and conflict over the last 50 years are threatened. Violation of human rights and exploitation of people and nature continues despite numerous international conventions and commitments. Democratic rights are actively suppressed and are withering even in assumed democracies. 

When power is misused, critical questions pertaining to the control over media and information must be asked. Today democracy is at stake because media does not fulfil its mandate as independent informants. The public opinion is at loss and misguided if the truth is warped by corrupt leaders and manipulated media. The increasing commercialisation of media further threatens to undermine critical and trustworthy journalism. Media has a crucial role to play in uncovering the true stories and motives of those in power.

But this takes integrity, courage and thoroughness. 

30 years in revealing the hidden agendas.

The winner of the Sophie prize 2003, John Pilger says: “ It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers, without understanding the hidden agendas and myths that surround the message”. He has managed to show the injustice and suppression of truth - as well as reveal the propaganda. He engages and provokes the public and forces them to reflect and take a stand, - an essential condition for a functioning democracy. He believes that the public is committed to use their power and speak up for the protection of democratic rights.

His main mission has been that of protecting human rights for all.

Wars, conflicts and exploitation

John Pilger has covered some of most serious wars and conflicts throughout the last part of the 20th century.

  • He was one of the first journalists to alert the world to the agony suffered by the Cambodian people under the Pol Pot regime.
  • He covered the Vietnam war over many years.
  • His documentation of the inhuman treatment of the aboriginals in his home country Australia caused international attention.
  • In his documentary on Indonesia, he has revealed how the world’s powerful business interests gained control over the natural resources of this country.
  • His recent report on the Palestinian situation shocked and provoked debate
  • During the US and British invasion of Iraq he assisted the public in critically assessing the true motives for the war. Thus the public was capable of asking crucial questions as to the legitimacy of war.
  • In his most recent book The New Rulers of the World he shows the nature of modern imperialism after September 11. He stresses that war is terrorism and that war does not contribute to fighting terrorism.

The direct link between exploitation of people and nature is seen throughout all of his books, articles and documentaries. 

Jury prize awarding grounds

The Jury of the Sophie Prize has decided to grant the Sophie Prize 2003 to John Pilger on account of the following. He has:

  • Fought for human rights and democracy
  • Shown how exploitation of people and nature are interlinked
  • Worked tirelessly at revealing the hidden agendas of power
  • Engaged a large number of people in critical reflection and towards political action
  • Been one the most critical voices to address the commercialisation and manipulation of media. 

The Jury of the Sophie Prize hopes that the award will encourage the Prize winner and fellow journalists to continue to shed light on the hidden agendas, thus protecting our democratic rights and contribute to the equitable and fair distribution of the world’s resources.