Asia Society Announces 3rd Winner of the Osborn Elliott Prize


Philip P. Pan of the Washington Post Honored for His Penetrating Reportage on Individuals Challenging Authoritarianism in China

March 30, 2005 (New York City)— Asia Society announced today that Philip P. Pan of the Washington Post is the third recipient of the Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism. Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and chair of the independent jury that oversees the selection process, will present Mr. Pan with the $10,000 award at a public program at the Asia Society on June 1.

In announcing the award, Mr. Zakaria praised Mr. Pan for his skill, daring and ingenuity in uncovering China through the eyes of its citizens who are battling the authoritarian power of the Communist Party and the state. "China is the big story of our times, and it is also a most difficult story," commented Mr. Zakaria. "Important aspects of the country remain closed, monitored, and off-limits to reporters. But not to Philip Pan."

Since September 2000, when he became the Beijing correspondent for the Washington Post, Mr. Pan has crisscrossed China, highlighting the work of student group leaders, Internet activists, crusading editors, and ordinary Chinese.  A meticulous reporter who has stayed on some of his stories for years, he developed penetrating accounts of the terrifying impact of authoritarianism on the country’s citizens and the agonizing choices people have to make in their quest for freedom in a controlling state. Some of his stories have had immediate effects, such as the freeing of a military surgeon who was imprisoned for denouncing the Tiananmen Square killings. According to Zakaria, “all of his stories have the effect of opening an important window on China.”

Born and raised in New Jersey, Mr. Pan is the son of immigrants from Taiwan. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he majored in government and served as managing editor of the campus daily. He also spent a year studying Mandarin Chinese at Beijing University. Starting as a summer intern in 1995, Mr. Pan has been a Post staff writer for ten years, covering police, crime, courts, immigration and immigrant communities. In 2003, he received the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for a series of articles published during 2002 describing labor abuses in China’s transition to capitalism.

The "Oz Prize" honors legendary journalist and author Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek, who set new standards for reporting and editing and became one of the earliest practitioners of "civic journalism"— the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy. Previous winners have included Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times for her groundbreaking coverage of the AIDS crisis in China and John Pomfret of the Washington Post for his remarkable ability to present the historical changes taking place in China from uniquely human vantage points. Criteria for the prize include consideration for the impact of the work, its originality, creativity, depth of research, and educational value in informing the public about Asia.

In addition to Mr. Zakaria, the jury for the Osborn Elliott Prize includes Carroll R. Bogert, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch; Ian Buruma, noted author and Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College; Henry Cornell, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs and Asia Society trustee; Barbara Crossette, author and contributor to the New York Times; Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of The Aspen Institute; Joe Klein, bestselling author and columnist for TIME; Joseph Lelyveld, former executive editor of the New York Times; and Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief of Time Inc.

The award will be presented at a public program on June 1 at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City.  Mr. Zakaria will moderate a panel discussion with select journalists to examine coverage of the major news stories in Asia of the past year.

About Asia Society
Asia Society is America’s leading institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Asia and communication between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the Pacific. A nonprofit, nonpartisan educational institution, Asia Society presents a wide range of programs including major art exhibitions, performances, media programs, international conferences and lectures, and initiatives to improve elementary and secondary education about Asia. The Asia Society is headquartered in New York City, with regional centers in Washington, DC, Houston, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Melbourne, Australia, San Francisco, Manila, and Shanghai.

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