Veteran Correspondent and AP News Director Kathy Gannon to receive Columbia Journalism Award

April 27, 2022

Kathy Gannon, the Associated Press news director for Pakistan and Afghanistan, will receive the Columbia Journalism Award for a distinguished career as an international correspondent. Voted on by the faculty “for singular journalistic performance in the public interest,” the award is presented annually to someone of exceptional accomplishment and service to journalism.

“The breadth and depth of Kathy Gannon’s reporting and her unwavering courage and commitment during incredibly challenging moments spanning more than three decades have shaped an extraordinary record for journalists and historians to study for generations to come,” said Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism Steve Coll.

The Columbia Journalism Award recipient generally addresses the graduating class each year. Gannon, who is based overseas in Pakistan, will address the Class of 2022 via video. 

Gannon has covered the region for the AP as a correspondent and bureau chief since 1988, a period that spans the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Afghanistan, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the bitter Afghan civil war between Islamic factions and the rise and fall of the Taliban. Gannon was the only Western journalist allowed in Kabul by the Taliban in the weeks preceding the 2001 U.S.-British offensive in Afghanistan.

In addition to her coverage of South Central Asia, she has covered the Middle East, including the 2006 Israeli war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and war in northern Iraq.

On April 2014, Gannon was seriously wounded -- hit by seven bullets -- while covering preparations for Afghan national elections when an Afghan police officer opened fire on the car in which she was riding. Her colleague and close friend, AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, was killed in the attack.

Gannon underwent 18 surgeries and returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan where she wrote about sexual abuse in Islamic madrassas and took a deep dive into honor killings, a deadly phenomena that sees more than a thousand women killed each year at the hands of their family. She followed Taliban’s sweep through Afghanistan, their return to power in August 2021 and their subsequent attempt to transition from a militant group to a governing body.

A native of Timmins, Ontario, she was the city editor at the Kelowna Courier in British Columbia and worked at several Canadian newspapers before her career took her overseas. She has lived in Israel, Japan, Pakistan and Afghanistan

Gannon has won numerous international awards, including the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Award, The Overseas Press Club Award for best newspaper or wire service reporting from abroad, and the Edward R. Murrow Press Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 2005, Gannon authored “I is for Infidel: From Holy War, to Holy Terror, 18 Years Inside Afghanistan” (Public Affairs, 2005).

Gannon is married to respected Pakistani architect Naeem Pasha, and has a stepdaughter, Kyla Pasha. She is the youngest of six children. Her brothers Brian and Lorne were also journalists, her brothers Robert and Terry were prominent in their fields and her sister, Patricia Ann, was a nurse in Canada's north for 40 years.

The graduation ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 18 at 2 p.m. A livestream will be available. For more information about the Journalism School’s graduation events, visit here.