Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep paid tribute to the bravery and work of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in an open letter lauding the role of female journalists around the world.
“Bravery is terrifying and actual, bravado is a parade. We see enough examples of Braggadocio and Bravado strutting around on the public stage… But true bravery is the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, blown up in her car for reporting on the Panama Papers,” she wrote in an open letter published today in Porter magazine’s winter issue, which features the Incredible Women list.
Streep spoke of the importance of protecting, defending and thanking journalists around the world, because “they, their scruples and their principles are the front-line defence of free and informed people”.
Investigative journalists – especially female journalists – were vulnerable and faced with the threat of their identity and location being exposed online. They came under a “special scrutiny” and had to vouch for their stories, put their names on them, which led to situation where they “attract the cowardly, the bullies, the brotherhood of bots and their easily aroused armies of haters”.
She also lauded the work of Patricia Mayorga, a Mexican journalist who exposed corruption in her country and the connection between officials and drug cartels, and Arwa Damon who reported from inside the Yazidi encampment while attacked by Isis.
“Bravery is every one of the journalists who has stood up recently and attracted a bulls eye on her back, just because she reported on and loves the truth. She serves the truth, for one reason: because without it, even the idea of a free society collapses,” she said.
Streep herself spoken out when the allegations of sexual abuse by Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein had emerged and won a record-breaking 21st Oscar nomination for her role as publisher in the film The Post – the true story of The Washington Post’s attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers and expose a massive government cover-up in 1971.
“I applaud and revere our female journalists – I love them, and their equally undaunted brothers. We need them now more than ever”.
She pointed out that speaking up was “a daunting prospect” – especially in a time where the internet created an environment of anonymity that allowed people to lie and hurt without fear of attribution or retribution.
“Death threats are the new normal. Armed escorts for the press could be the next new thing,” Streep wrote.
However, bravery was important – even in a time of peace when people relied on the news. “We need these relentless, annoying questioners, these bulls**t detectors, these modern-day Cassandras to report to us what they see, what they hear, and which way leads over the cliff, so we can swerve to avoid it.”
The Incredible Women’s list pays tribute to the 300 women behind Time’s Up – a movement against sexual harassment that was founded in January this year by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo.