LONDON – Since joining the NBC News team, my job has brought me to razor's edge of history on all corners of the earth. It has been a privilege to be a part of this year's coverage in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya and elsewhere.
If you aren't a journalist, you may think it's crazy that anyone would want to take the risk to work in these places. But the vast majority of international correspondents and producers feel very fortunate to go...and eventually, we get to come back. We put our flak jackets in the closet and slip into the familiar freedom of our homelands.
But for an extraordinary band of journalists around the world, there is no ticket out. For them, home is also hell. They live where the stories of war, revolution and upheaval are unfolding. They live in fear. They stare down the horrors of kidnapping, imprisonment, torture from their own governments, drug lords and terrorists. They bury colleagues. They literally risk everything, all the time, in order to report the news.
Each year, the Committee to Protect Journalists honors a select few for their courage, conviction and resolve. On behalf of NBC, a major supporter of CPJ, I produced the profile videos of this year's International Press Freedom Award recipients. Chances are, until now, you haven't heard of these people. They don't have egos or seek fame in return for their sacrifices. They are noble warriors of truth who quietly work in the shadows of death.
Please allow me to introduce you to the most humble collection of bad asses I've ever met.
Javier Valdez Cárdenas, Founder of Ríodoce, Mexico
More than 40 journalists have been killed as result of the Mexican drug war. Javier Valdez Cárdenas is a recipient of the CPJ's Mexico International Press Freedom Award for reporting on the story in the face of immense danger.
Mansoor al-Jamri, Co-Founder of Al-Wasat, Bahrain
Bahrain's leading independent newspaper, Al- Wasat, was targeted during the Arab Spring uprising. Mansoor al-Jamri, the paper's co-founder, was personally threatened and attacked by government thugs, but fought to maintain the paper's independence.
Natalya Radina, Editor In Chief, Charter 97, Belarus
Natalya Radina, editor in chief of the Charter 97 newspaper in Belarus, was severly beaten and jailed by government forces for reporting on a bloodly crackdown after rigged elections. She was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by CPJ for her courageous work.
Umar Cheema, Reporter for The News International, Pakistan
Umar Cheema, a reporter for Pakistan's News International, was awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists International Freedom Award for his tenacious reporting in the face of government harrassment and torture.