John Pilger Archive

To read more about the films and journalism of John Pilger, visit his website at: www.johnpilger.com.


John Pilger wins Sydney Peace Prize

John Pilger wins Sydney Peace PrizeThe world renowned journalist, author and film-maker John Pilger has been awarded the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize. The jury’s citation reads:

“For work as an author, film-maker and journalist as well as for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard. For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form.’

Sydney Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees comments, “The jury was impressed by John’s courage as well as by his skills and creativity. His commitment to uncovering human rights abuses shines through his numerous books, films and articles. His work inspires all those who value peace with justice.”

Speaking from London about news of this award, John Pilger responded: "Coming from my homeland and the city where I was born and grew up, this is an honour I shall cherish, with the hope that it encourages young Australian journalists, writers and film-makers to break the silences that perpetuate injustice both faraway and close to home."

Examples of his work include an account of the British and American governments’ secret ‘mass kidnappings’ of a whole population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean to make way for an American military base. His 1979 film Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia depicted the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people. In 1994, Death of a Nation, shot under cover in East Timor, galvanized world wide support for the East Timorese people. His re-making of the film Palestine is Still the Issue reminds the world of a continuing occupation and cruel injustice.

Other distinguished recipients of Australia’s only international prize for peace have included previous Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, the Aboriginal leader and ‘father of reconciliation’ Patrick Dodson.

On Wednesday 4th November John Pilger received the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize at a gala ceremony in the Maclaurin Hall at the University of Sydney. On Thursday November 5th he gave the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House. On the morning of Friday November 6th, he was the guest of 1500 high school students at a peace festival hosted by Cabramatta High School.


Top journalist calls for mass movement to counter propaganda

John Pilger after receiving his Honorary Doctorate The investigative journalist John Pilger has called for a public movement to monitor and counter news propaganda. In his acceptance speech on being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Lincoln University, he said: “In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism – and journalists themselves – need to question the part they play in the distortion and omission of information that allows great power to have its bloody way.”

He told the graduating students at Lincoln Cathedral: “Such a movement could herald a perestroika, a liberation of a kind we have not known – as the internet has already demonstrated. In other words, it is time to reclaim what Tom Paine called ‘the freedom of words and ideas of truth’.”

Liberal democracy was moving towards a form of corporate autocracy in which we the people were becoming accountable to the government, not the other way round, as it should be. “This is a historic shift and the media ought not to be its façade.”

He urged students to maintain their idealism and their principled audacity – while developing a scepticism not about people but about unaccountable power. “In other words, look at things from the ground up, never from the top down.”

As a critic of the way journalism was often promoted and taught, he described Lincoln School of Journalism as a “beacon”.

Read below for John Pilger’s full speech:

“Chancellor, Pro Vice Chancellor, Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen: I am very grateful to Lincoln University for the honour bestowed on me. As a critic of the way journalism is often promoted and taught, I have regarded Lincoln as a beacon, and I pay a warm tribute to Richard Keeble and John Tulloch. I also wish to congratulate all of you who graduate today.

We are living through dangerous times. Britain is part of what is called “the war on terror”, which means that our government, in reality is waging a war of terror in at least two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. The ancient land that is now Iraq is the cradle of much of what we call civilisation: of writing and books and learning. How many of us are aware that since the first Gulf War in 1991, more innocent people have died in that country as a consequence of the actions of our government and its principal ally than died during the nightmare of slavery.

I believe that only by understanding the crimes committed in our name can we progress as a civilisation. How do we that? With information -- truthful information, found and delivered without fear or favour. For that is the essence of the power of people and of true democracy

There is every indication that in these dangerous times, liberal democracy is moving toward a form of corporate autocracy, in which we the people are becoming accountable to the government, not the other way round, as it should be. This is an historic shift, and the media ought not to be its façade. Had journalists and broadcasters done their job in the years since 1991, had we questioned and exposed the lies of our governments instead of amplifying and echoing them, perhaps a million or more innocent people would be alive today.

I believe we need a public movement that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda that comes in the form of news. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism -- and journalists themselves -- need to question the part they play in the distortion and omission of information that allows great power to have its bloody way. Such a movement could herald a perestroika, a liberation of a kind we have not known – as the internet has already demonstrated. In other words, it is time to reclaim what Tom Paine called “the freedom of words and ideas of truth”.

To those of you planning a career in the media, or indeed in any pursuit that gives you both opportunity and privilege, I urge you to maintain your idealism and maintain your passion and your principled audacity, regardless of age, regardless of what the courtiers of power tell you – while developing a scepticism not about people, but about unaccountable authority: power. In other words, look at things from the ground up, never from the top down.

Thank you again for the honour you have given me, and all power to your brave endeavours.”


John Pilger

John Pilger reporting from the West Bank John Pilger grew up in Sydney, Australia. Since beginning his career in 1958, he has been a war correspondent, author and film-maker, becoming one of the most acclaimed journalists of his generation.

He is one of only two to win British journalism’s highest award twice for his work all over the world. He has been International Reporter of the Year and winner of the United Nations Association Peace Prize and Gold Medal. For his broadcasting, he has won France’s Reporter Sans Frontières award, an American Academy Award (an Emmy) and a British Academy Award (a BAFTA).

His first film, The Quiet Mutiny, of 1970, explosively revealed a rebellion within the US Army in Vietnam. His 1979 documentary, Cambodia Year Zero, is credited with alerting the world to the horrors of the Pol Pot regime. His 1994 film, Death of a Nation, about East Timor, had a similar consequence. His latest documentary, The War on Democracy, won Best Documentary at the recent One World Media Awards. He is the author of numerous best-selling books including Heroes, A Secret Country, The New Rulers of the World and Hidden Agendas. He is the editor of an anthology, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs. His latest book is Freedom Next Time. In 2003, he received the prestigious Sophie Prize for ‘thirty years of exposing deception and improving human rights’.

‘John Pilger unearths, with steely attention to facts, the filthy truth and tells it as it is’ – Harold Pinter.