Umar Cheema, Pakistan, is an investigative reporter for English-language daily, The News. He has set a high standard for quality journalism in a country where reporters are routinely attacked and murdered.
In 2010, he was kidnapped and tortured for writing critical stories about the government. Since then he has continued to write hard-hitting reports: his series exposing tax evasion by MPs forced the government to make public tax records of lawmakers and other citizens, while an investigation into a counter-terrorism fund that was used to buy wedding gifts, luxury carpets and gold jewelry for the relatives of ministers and dignitaries’ triggered reforms in the Ministry of Interior. His campaign helped expedite the introduction of a right to information law by a provincial government.
Cheema has received numerous awards for his reporting, including the Knight International Journalism Award, the International Press Freedom Award, the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Services in Journalism, the Tully Free Speech Award and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.
In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times. He holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also attended the London School of Economics where he received a Master of Sciences Degree in Comparative Politics (Conflict Studies).
Cheema founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan in 2012.