“It’s our duty as journalists to shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy.”

- Society of Professional Journalists


Around the world journalists in pursuit of the truth are being jailed, beaten and murdered with alarming frequency. Since 2016, according to Reporters Without Borders, 345 journalists have been killed and 1,798 have been jailed.

Authoritarian strongmen and their supporters who wish to silence the press accuse journalists of spreading “fake news” while they themselves pursue malicious social media disinformation campaigns to intentionally undermine the public’s trust in fact-based journalism.

This is a phenomenon not unique to the West. It is prevalent in countries from Eastern Europe and Russia, to the Middle East and to Asia.  TLN believes that this dangerous development must be confronted in a concerted and compelling way.

That is why we are launching the Freedom of the Media initiative this December 7 at the National Press Club. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, our two-day conference to be held at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. is rescheduled for September 19-20, 2022.

 We want to give voice to those trying to defend the rule of law and to protect journalists, fight fake news, and better understand the role of social media in disseminating the news.  Our expert panelists will also discuss how unbiased news can still be published in countries with illiberal democratic political systems.

The world needs an unencumbered, legitimate press to hold the powerful accountable. But with that comes the responsibility to practice fair and accurate journalism.

Dr. Michael Haltzel

TLN Chairman

Dr. Daniel Hamilton

TLN President

Dr. Sasha Toperich

TLN Executive Vice President


Tuesday, December 7

6:00 p.m.
Holeman Lounge
National Press Club

Sasha Toperich

Executive Vice President, Transatlantic Leadership Network

Panel Discussion
“State of the Media”

Emily Wilkins

Bloomberg Government

Philip J. LaVelle
Director of Public Affairs
U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)

Natalie Sedletska
Journalist, Radio Free Europe, Ukraine

Mujo Selimović
Publisher, Oslobodjenje Media Group, Bosnia and Herzegovina

6:45 p.m.
Cocktail Hour

7:30 p.m.
National Press Club

Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony

Lisa Nicole Matthews

President, National Press Club

Daniel Hamilton
President, Transatlantic Leadership Network

Special Guest Address:
Julie Pace

Executive Editor & Senior Vice President, Associated Press

Special Guest Address:
Ghida Fakhry

Anchor, Inside America with Ghida Fakhry and Bigger than Five, TRT World

Award Ceremony:
Michael Haltzel
Chairman, Transatlantic Leadership Network


The Transatlantic Leadership Network is pleased to announce the creation of the TLN Freedom of the Media Awards for Distinguished Reporting that expose betrayals of the public trust and demonstrates the importance and impact of journalism that holds powerful people and organizations accountable.

The awards will be announced and presented each September at the TLN Freedom of the Media Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony.

The TLN awards recognize superior enterprise reporting and production and place a premium on stories that impact society in the following categories.

Public Service

The TLN Gold Medal will be awarded to a U.S. news organization or individual for their extraordinary contribution and excellence in foreign affairs journalism.

Investigative Reporting

The TLN Gold Medal will be awarded to a foreign news organization or individual for a distinguished example of investigative reporting that exposes wrongdoing by government, corporate and public institutions.

Explanatory Reporting

 For a distinguished example of creative reporting and writing that explains a complex subject that impacts the public interest.

International Reporting

For a distinguished example of reporting that illuminates how decisions and actions of powerful institutions may negatively impact or undermine global peace and security.

Commentary and Criticism

 For incisive coverage of cultural and political issues with which societies grapple, including racism, religious prejudice, sexual abuse, and loss of public trust in institutions.


TLN’s Chairman Dr. Michael Haltzel is also a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins University SAIS.  Dr. Haltzel served as Democratic Staff Director, Subcommittee on European Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and European policy advisor to President (then-Senator) Joseph R. Biden, Jr.  and has headed U.S. Government delegations to three OSCE review conferences in Warsaw, Copenhagen, and Vienna. His previous positions include Chief of the European Division, Library of Congress; Director of West European Studies, Woodrow Wilson Center; Vice President for Academic Affairs, Longwood University (Virginia); and Deputy Director, Aspen Institute Berlin. Dr. Haltzel has been decorated by seven countries of the European Union.

TLN’s President Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton is the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor and directs the Foreign Policy Institute’s “The United States, Europe, and World Order” Program at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He has held a variety of senior diplomatic positions, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs; U.S. Special Coordinator for Southeast European Stabilization; Associate Director of the Policy Planning Staff for two U.S. Secretaries of State; and Director for Policy in the Bureau of European Affairs.

TLN’s Executive Vice President, Ambassador Dr. Sasha Toperich was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Mediterranean Basin, Middle East, and Gulf initiative at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. and has served as the U.S. Presidential Envoy to US from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dr. Toperich is a Nonresident Fellow at the Soran University Research Center in Iraqi Kurdistan and the Chairman of the Board at the Mediterranean Development Initiative (MDI) in Tunis, Tunisia.

TLN’s Vice President Mike Barbero, is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General. He has testified several times before Congress on security issues in the Middle East and has participated in numerous national and international media programs. He has four years of experience in the Middle East coordinating intricate political-military operations, advising senior government leaders and building capacities of foreign security ministries and forces while controlling a $13 Billion Foreign Military Sales program.

TLN’s Senior Fellow, Ambassador John Craig, served as the U.S. Ambassador to Oman. Just after Sept. 11, 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush as a Special Assistant to the President for Combatting Terrorism. He served on the staff of the National Security Council with Gen. Wayne Downing, Deputy National Security Advisor.  He was appointed as Boeing International Corporation’s regional vice president in the Middle East. Ambassador Craig has Ambassador-in-Residence in the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

TLN’s Distinguished Energy Fellow Debra L. Cagan worked as a career State Department diplomat and Defense Department official from the Reagan to Trump administrations, including serving as Deputy Assistant secretary of Defense for Coalition, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief; Senior Director for European, Russian and Eurasian security issues; Special Adviser for Strategic and Nuclear Policy for Europe; Senior Adviser to U.S. and NATO military officials. She led negotiations for the Highly Enriched Uranium Agreement with Russia and headed coalition operations for Iraq and Afghanistan.

TLN’s Senior Fellow, Dr. Ali Abusedra is the co-Founder of the London Foundation for International Law. He worked on the legal aspects of the Palm Island Project, the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, and the Arbitration Center in Ajman. Dr. Abusedra has participated in UAE negotiations with the White House on free trade agreements between the UAE and United States; and negotiations with the International Criminal Court on the case of lawyers detained in Libya who were sent by the ICC.

TLN’s Senior Fellow, Dr. Roudi Baroudi is the CEO of Energy & Environment Holding. He has 40 years of experience in the fields of oil and gas, petrochemicals, power, energy-sector reform, energy security, environment, carbon-trading mechanisms, privatization, and infrastructure and has worked in program development with the World Bank, the IMF, the European Commission, USAID, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Italian Bilateral Protocols, as well as multilateral agency financing in the United States, the Middle East, Central Asia, Japan, and Europe.

Awardees 2021

TLN Gold Medal for Public Service

Jackson Diehl, The Washington Post (U.S.)

TLN Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting

Fairouz Ziani & Al Jazeera Media Network (Qatar)

TLN Freedom of the Media Award for International Reporting

Michel El Murr, MTV Lebanon (Lebanon)

TLN Freedom of the Media Award for Explanatory Reporting

Natalie Sedletska, Radio Free Europe (Ukraine)

TLN Freedom of the Media Award for Commentary and Criticism

Mujo Selimović, Oslobodjenje Media Group (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

TLN Gold Medal for Public Service for a U.S. based news organization / individual, is awarded to Jackson Diehl, The Washington Post, for his outstanding commitment to the highest standards of journalism.

TLN Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting for an international news organization / individual, is awarded to Fairouz Ziani and Al Jazeera Media Network for “A Day in Wuhan” – an exceptional  documentary report with exclusive footage from Wuhan (China) during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Al Jazeera’s follow up investigative stories continued to bring important news and shed more light about the Covid-19 pandemic that helped people around the world to better understand and be better prepared to confront this global pandemic.


TLN Freedom of the Media Award for International Reporting, is awarded to Michel El Murr (Lebanon) for his support of progressive and democratic goals in Lebanon to confront Hezbollah.

TLN Freedom of the Media Award for Explanatory Reporting, is awarded to Natalie Sedletska (Ukraine) for her courageous stand against corruption within the government and judiciary in Ukraine.

TLN Freedom of the Media Award for Commentary and Criticism, is awarded to Mujo Selimović (Bosnia and Herzegovina) for his ongoing commitment to expose corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and political control of the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina that continues to cripple society.



Lisa Nicole Matthews
Julie Pace
Ghida Fakhry-Khane
Jackson Diehl and Daniel Hamilton
Sasha Toperich, Fairouz Ziani, Daniel Hamilton
Sasha Toperich, Michel El Murr, Daniel Hamilton
Sasha Toperich, Natalie Sedletska, Daniel Hamilton
Mujo Selimović and Daniel Hamilton
Jackson Diehl, Ghida Fakhry-Khane, Abderrahim Foukara
Phillip J. LaVelle, Natalie Sedletska, Mujo Selimović, Emily Wilkins


TLN Freedom of the Media Welcoming Remarks – Michael Haltzel

December 7, 2021

Al Jazeera Video

December 7, 2021

MTV Lebanon Video

December 7, 2021

Oslobođenje Video

December 7, 2021

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December 8, 2021

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