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Writers Cooke, Zileri Win Awards

October 15, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ One of the world’s most widely heard commentators, a Peruvian magazine executive and a Bulgarian journalist recovering from an acid attack are the first recipients of new Excellence in Journalism awards.

The International Center for Journalists honored British journalist Alistair Cooke, who for more than 50 years has broadcast ``Letter from America″ for the BBC. He is heard by an estimated 34 million listeners in 52 countries.

Cooke, who lives in New York, did not attend the awards dinner Wednesday but sent a taped commentary accepting the honor. He received the Henry Brandon Award, named for the late U.S.-based British commentator.

Also honored at the dinner were Enrique Zileri Gibson, chief executive officer of Caretas, Peru’s leading news magazine, and Anna Zarkova, a crime reporter for Trud, an independent daily in Sofia. Both received the Knight International Press Fellowship Award, set up to honor journalists outside the United States for outstanding work under dangerous or difficult circumstances.

The award cited Zileri’s 40 years in journalism ``defending democracy and democratic principles, human rights and freedom of the press.″ His magazine was banned for most of 1975 and again in 1976 and was closed for a time in 1979 by Peru’s military regime.

Zarkova is recovering from severe acid burns on her arm and part of her face, including her left ear and eye. Recipient of several awards in Bulgaria for her reporting on organized crime and corruption, she was attacked at a bus stop for an article she had written.

The International Center for Journalists, still called ICFJ for its former name, International Center for Foreign Journalists, is an independent, nonprofit institution set up to provide training and assistance to improve the quality of journalism worldwide.

Organizers said the new awards will be given annually. The Brandon Award carries a $7,500 prize and the Knight awardees each receieved $1,000.

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