Univision's Jorge Ramos was presented the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for "lifetime achievement in defending press freedom" Tuesday at the 2014 Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Awards.
During his speech before the group of journalists and media executives, Ramos made the case for journalists to drop the facade of impartiality and to use their voices and influence not just to inform but as activists to change policy:
"The best of journalism happens when we take a stand: when we question those who are in power, when we confront the politicians who abuse their authority, when we denounce an injustice," Ramos said. "The best of journalism happens when we side with the victims, with the most vulnerable, with those who have no rights. The best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power."
The Huffington Post reports that the journalist many consider to be one of the most influential in America used the Iraq war as an example of what journalists should do with their power:
"Sadly, we stayed silent before the war in Iraq and thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraq civilians died unnecessarily," he continued. "We have to learn from that. Silence is the worst sin in journalism. But the best is when journalism becomes a way of doing justice and speaking truth to power."
Ramos pointed to a quote by the great Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel to bring his point home: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”