The Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation pronounced the Russian media 7x7 and The Insider the recipients of The Free Media Awards 2019. This was announced by the organizers on August 15 in their press release.
7x7 was awarded for its «unique teamwork and cooperation between journalists, bloggers and activists», The Insider — for their fact checking and critical investigative journalism. In the post-Soviet space, the winners of the award in 2019 are CivilNet from Armenia, the Azerbaijan investigative journalist Hafiz Babali, and the magazine Novoye Vremya in Ukraine.
— The situation for press freedom in the region is so critical, and the candidates for the Free Media Awards so many and worthy, that the Fritt Ord Foundation and the Zeit Foundation have decided from this year on to increase the number of awards from three to five. The five recipients of our 2019 Free Media Awards are all brave journalists working extensively with important journalism revealing corruption, organized crime, human rights violations, and abuse of power in critical ways that serve the public, — says Knut Olav Åmås, executive director at the Fritt Ord Foundation.
The organizers described 7x7 as a «grassroots independent project»:
«Important topics that they cover include pollution and environmental problems like the dumping of hazardous waste, and protests against this. Corruption and the use of torture in the prison system are other examples. Some of the cases covered have gained national traction. Journalists and bloggers alike who publish on the media platform 7x7 regularly receive threats and are often prosecuted. The platform has been subject to high fines.»
7х7 was nominated by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven, Head of Russia and Central Asia, Friedrich Naumann, Stiftung für die Freiheit, Natalia Baranova, editor-in-chief of the education project "Teplitsa of social technology", Jens Beiküfner, head of the press department at the German Embassy in Moscow, and jury members Alice Bota and Guri Norstrøm.
In 2018, experts of the Directorate of the Roskomnadzor for the Komi Republic suspected 7x7 of promotion of drugs because of the interview with blogger Mikhail Svetov. The editorial board was fined for 800 thousand rubles, editor-in-chief Sophia Krapotkina — for 40 thousand rubles, the online newspaper raised the money for payment of the fine among its readers and complained to the ECHR. Journalists of 7x7 repeatedly became winners of such awards as "Redkollegiya", "Vmeste media", and other professional competitions.
In 2018, the press prize of The Free Media Awards went to the St. Petersburg edition of "Fontanka", in 2017 — to Russian journalist Anton Naumlyuk and cartoonist Sergei Yolkin.