An award named for CWA President Larry Cohen in honor of his tireless movement-building efforts will be presented to a Guild member or local staffer every other year at TNG-CWA conferences.
The Guild, meeting in Orlando last week, surprised Cohen with the news at the end of a fiery speech that brought delegates to their feet.
Cohen is on a mission, one he plans to continue when he retirees from CWA in June, to building a movement of unions and organizations with different agendas but similar social justice values. He argues fervently that a large-scale people’s movement is the only way to take back political power from billionaires and multinational corporations.
“We wanted to honor Larry for the enormous amount of time, energy and passion he has put into this pursuit,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. “We also want to encourage our members and locals to expand their movement-building efforts.”
The “Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award” will recognize Guild members or local staff members who who do the most to build coalitions of activists. More specific details about the award still need to be hammered out.
For journalists in the Guild whose jobs demand strict objectivity, reaching out to community leaders and activist groups can be tricky. But not all Guild members are under those pressures.
“Some of our members need to refrain from direct political action because of a conflict of interest, real or perceived,” Lunzer said. “But to different degrees, we believe everyone in the Guild can play a role in strengthening the pursuit of justice. Let’s never forget that freedom of association is enshrined in the First Amendment, just like free speech and a free press.”
In his speech, Cohen made the connection between movement-building and journalism.
“It is our turn,” he said. “We need to build a democracy movement. We need to connect it to inequality. Good journalism. Good information. This is so important as we try to show our communities what a fair-economy looks like. Journalism helps us connect the dots.”