Najafizada serves as the director of TOLONews, Afghanistan’s first and largest 24/7 news and current events channel, where he oversees a newsroom of over 100 media professionals in Kabul and news bureaus throughout the country. He has conducted TV interviews with many global leaders, including former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
In 2017, Forbes selected Najafizada among the “30 under 30” top media influencers in Asia. In 2016, TIME Magazine named him a Next Generation Leader and Reporters Without Borders named him a Press Freedom Hero for his fight for free press in Afghanistan.
“At 29 years old, this year’s Fleischaker/Greene Award for Courageous International Reporting recipient, Lotfullah Najafizada, has already braved numerous threats while working as a journalist and as Director of TOLOnews,” said Dr. Loup Langton, the School of Journalism & Broadcasting’s former director, who helped select Najafizada for the award. “We’re fortunate to have him join us to talk about the current situation in his country as well as the challenges and rewards of reporting from a country that has faced so much violence and uncertainty for decades.”
Najafizada started out in journalism as a page designer at a local newspaper in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. He later began writing and reporting, which led to a job in the online department at Kabul-based media group MOBY. When the idea came at MOBY to start a 24-hour news station, Najafizada was chosen to lead it.
Since assuming the director role at TOLONews, Najafizada has received threats from the Taliban for his coverage of Kabul affairs. In 2014, the Taliban attacked several of his colleagues, and Najafizada made the decision to continue reporting despite the dangers.
The Award for Courageous International Reporting is given by the Fleischaker/Greene Fund for Excellence in First Amendment Issues at WKU. The award ceremony and Najafizada’s presentation will be held at 7 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Sept. 28 in Ransdell Hall auditorium on WKU’s campus. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information about Najafizada’s visit to campus, contact Amanda J. Crawford, assistant professor of journalism, at 270-745-6407 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Fleischaker/Greene Fund for Excellence
In 2008, Louisville attorneys Jon Fleischaker and Kim Greene created the Fleischaker/Greene Fund for Excellence in First Amendment Issues at Western Kentucky University. The Fund also supports WKU’sFleischaker/Greene Scholars in First Amendment Studies Program, which gives top students in the School of Journalism & Broadcasting the opportunity to take an advanced special topics class and brings nationally recognized speakers in journalism and First Amendment issues to the WKU campus.