Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Tuesday February 3, 2009


NEW YORK CITY – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been selected to receive the Writers Guild of America, East’s (WGAE) Evelyn F. Burkey Award. The prestigious award is given in recognition of contributions that have brought honor and dignity to writers everywhere. CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger and Executive Director Joel Simon will accept the award, which will be presented at the 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards ceremony held on Saturday, February 7, 2009 at New York City ’s Hudson Theatre.


The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent non-profit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. It was founded in 1981 by a group of U.S. foreign correspondents in response to the often brutal treatment of their colleagues by authoritarian governments and enemies of independent journalism. The Committee to Protect Journalists believes that without a free press few other human rights are attainable. A strong press freedom environment encourages the growth of a robust civil society, which leads to stable, sustainable democracies and a healthy social, political and economic development. Working in more than 120 countries, CPJ protects journalists by publicly revealing abuses against the press and by acting on behalf of imprisoned and threatened journalists.


"I cannot think of an organization that as meaningfully and deeply manifests the meaning of the Burkey Award — to bring honor and dignity to writers everywhere — than the Committee to Protect Journalists. In a world where freedom of the press is so often suppressed and its practitioners threatened, even killed, the CPJ stands in defense of the lives and liberty of those writers around the planet who so valiantly struggle to bring us the truth," said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East.


The Burkey Award was established in 1978 to honor Evelyn F. Burkey, who dedicated her professional life to supporting and helping writers. Burkey worked to create the Writers Guild of America, East in 1953 as the union of film, television and radio writers, independent of precursor organizations. She was executive director of the WGAE until her retirement in 1972. The Burkey Award, created in her honor, continues her mission by recognizing one “whose contributions have brought honor and dignity to writers everywhere.”  Past recipients of the Burkey Award include: 2008 recipient Walter Bernstein, Joan Didion, Martin Scorsese, The Museum of Television & Radio, Colin Callender, Tom Fontana, Vaclav Havel, David Brown, Sidney Lumet,


Dennis Potter, Arthur Miller, Joan Ganz Cooney, Jacqueline Babbin, George Schaefer, Art Buchwald, Horton Foote, Andy Rooney, the Communications Workers of America, Athol Fugard, Lloyd Richards, Herbert Brodkin, Elmer W. Lower, Walter Cronkite, Fred Coe, and Barbara Schultz.


The 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2009 in New York City at the Hudson Theatre in the Millennium Broadway Hotel and simultaneously in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. For more information or to purchase tickets to the New York City awards ceremony, call 212-767-7812 or visit the WGAE website at


The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, new media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level.  For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit

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