John P. McNulty Prize Announces 2011 Winner
New York, NY, October 25, 2011 – The Aspen Institute and Anne Welsh McNulty, Institute trustee, today announced journalist Dele Olojede as the winner of the fourth annual John P. McNulty Prize. A committee of judges including Madeleine Albright, Olara Otunnu, Shashi Tharoor and Anne McNulty selected Olojede in recognition of his groundbreaking work to deliver unbiased information to the Nigerian public, demand government transparency and advance journalistic standards in the country.
“With NEXT, Dele is truly changing the expectations to which Nigerian leaders are held, equipping Nigerians to be active citizens,” said Anne McNulty, founder of the McNulty Prize. “The jury was inspired by his courage and conviction in forging new ground, and leading his country toward a better future.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, judge for the 2011 McNulty Prize, said, “Dele Olojede is a remarkable leader operating in a very difficult environment. He is giving the people of Nigeria what they do not have, which is unbiased information. He is standing up for media and government transparency and is a formative figure in building a strong democratic base in his country.”
Olojede is the CEO and Founder of NEXT, the leading source for independent Nigerian and African news, and first Pulitzer Prize-winning African. Prior to his founding of NEXT, Olojede attended Columbia University’s School of Journalism and spent 16 years at Newsday, where he received the Pulitzer for his “fresh, haunting look at Rwanda a decade after rape and genocidal slaughter had ravaged the Tutsi tribe.” After becoming an Africa Leadership Initiative/South Africa Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, Dele decided it was time to return to his native Nigeria in 2008 and to elevate the public dialogue in a nation characterized by corruption, a wealth gap, and an acceptance of the status quo as his Fellowship project. The result was NEXT, a venture founded on journalistic integrity and credibility, which is now the most trafficked news site in the country at 2 million monthly views.
“Our aim is nothing less than to transform the way Nigerians think, to arm the citizen with factual information so that…she will make better decisions,” said Olojede. “The funding conferred by the McNulty Prize is invaluable in continuing and growing NEXT’s operations, particularly as we expand our digital media presence. Ultimately, our real impact will be measured by the changing thinking of the Nigerian people, but to receive the international recognition of the McNulty Prize is immensely humbling.”
Running a 24-hour newsroom on diesel generators, Dele and a team of young people work to bring unbiased investigative reporting to a country mired in corruption. To date, NEXT has exposed the role of Nigerian political elite in the Haliburton scandal, uncovered tax evasion by Nigeria’s richest tycoon and publicized the pay of Nigerian legislators. After NEXT exposed the concealed truth that Nigeria’s President, Umaru Yar’Adua, was seriously brain damaged, agents of the State Security Service attempted to burst into the newsroom and seize the paper. The story precipitated the appointment of a new leader in the country.
The McNulty Prize seeks to galvanize efforts to address the foremost social, economic and political challenges of our time by recognizing the very best in high-impact work by Fellows from the Aspen Global Leadership Network under taken as part of their Fellowship. Projects are assessed on their creativity, impact and sustainability. The 2011 finalists include:
The winner and finalists will be recognized at a reception that will include a conversation between Dele Olojede and Walter Isaacson to be held on November 2 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at the Metropolitan Club, President’s Ballroom. On November 3, Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will present the McNulty Prize to Olojede at the Aspen Institute Annual Awards Dinner. Watch a video about Dele and NEXT here.
About The John P. McNulty Prize
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About the Aspen Global Leadership Network