« Back to all News

Remembering Bettina Peters

Author: Olga Komarova | 10. September 2020

It is with a heavy heart that we convey our sadness at the loss of Bettina Peters.

A true champion for media development, Bettina led the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) as its director from 2007-2012. After leaving GFMD, she worked with the Thompson Foundation as the director of development and later as a senior development consultant until her death. Before joining GFMD, she was instrumental to the development of the International Federation of Journalists and the European Journalism Centre.

In light of her unwavering commitment to the journalism support and media development sector, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by GFMD in 2016.

Announcing the award at the World Press Freedom Day UNESCO conference in Helsinki on May 3, Leon Willems, chairman of the Global Forum for Media Development, paid tribute to Bettina’s dedication to the promotion of freedom of expression and a vibrant news media.

“Her achievements are many. First, among them, she had a knack for getting people to work together under the GFMD umbrella.”

We are seeing many lovely testimonials from our members and friends citing her endless energy, her remarkable courage, and her unwavering commitment to people and organisations. Here we have collated all of the messages that we have received and that have been posted online.

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) – Bettina worked at the IFJ from 1990 until 2002 where she set up and led the IFJ’s projects division. She was responsible for the IFJ’s global programme on media development and capacity-building for journalists’ organisations. She also played a significant role in developing IFJ gender equality work. Bettina was a true leader and a fierce defender of press freedom. Her enthusiasm and zest for life will be truly missed. We send our deepest condolences to her partner and all her family and friends.

Internews – A deep loss for all of us in media development. Her leadership at GFMD and in our sector is beyond compare.

A. S. Panneerselvan, Panos South Asia & The Hindu – Bettina brought in so much of energy in fighting for a free and ethical press. We all will miss her. My sincere condolences to Aidan White.

Adam Thomas, European Journalism Centre (EJC) – Everyone at the European Journalism Centre is saddened to hear this news. Bettina was a popular, passionate, and dedicated colleague who cared deeply about journalism and her work. We send our best wishes to her family.

Andrea Kupper, DW Akademie Very sad news, Thank you, Bettina Peters, for your energy and your wonderful character.

Ayman Mhanna, Samir Kassir Foundation/SKeyes Center – I send my deepest and most heartfelt condolences, and also those of my colleagues at the Samir Kassir Foundation. My connection to Bettina was always virtual, but very close. She was our main point of contact at the Thomson Foundation during our 2009-2013 partnership, and then she was so helpful in on-boarding me to my position as the executive director of GFMD. She laid the foundation for some of the best media assistance work around the world. But this is actually a reflection of the most noble values that drove her. She will be remembered dearly. Sending you support, solidarity, and friendship.

Caroline Giraud, Former Advisor, Programmes and Policy Manager, and Coordinator for GFMD The media development family has lost someone unique. She was an inspiration for many of us. I’m so glad we gave her an award for her contribution at GFMD. Bettina was such a fighter and a brilliant mind. An inspiration for us all.

Caroline Vuillemin, Fondation Hirondelle I first heard about GFMD from Bettina, she was so passionate. My thoughts are with her family and close ones.

Cherilyn Ireton, WAN-IFRA To all Bettina’s friends and former colleagues, our deep condolences. She was indeed a positive force who made a real difference.

Christiana Chelsia Chan, Press Council of Indonesia – Thank you for the important news. I shared this sad news to many Indonesian media activists, and offer prayers for her and her family, especially Aidan White. 2015 was the first time we heard about her illness and that she could not come join us in Jakarta for the 2016 GFMD World Conference. Her loves for not only Indonesia, but media freedom and media development in Southeast Asian countries gave me the chance to met her in person for the first time in 2009 during the Bali Media Forum, and from then as alumni of Internews we quickly caught up to each other. Even in the last couple years, she thought and contributed greatly to media society in Indonesia via the Thomson Foundation. My last email to her was on the 7th and 8th July 2020, to greet her and ask about her condition during this difficult pandemic time, and she replied to me with an update about her illness. She wished to have a few more months with family, and yes, she had her wonderful family with her. As a teacher, she was a role model; as a professional, she was open-minded, disciplined, and committed; as a friend, she was a wonderful person. Dearest Bettina, until we meet again.

Christopher Warren As the president of the International Federation of Journalists, I got to see up close the best of Bettina Peters as a transformational activist for journalists’ rights. I admired her work since and, now, mourn our loss.

Cyprien Ndikumana, Institut Panos Grands Lacs – My most saddened condolences. It is a big loss indeed. May God have her soul!

David KaplanGlobal Investigative Journalism Network What sad news. Bettina was full of energy and always encouraging. She will be missed.

Diana Senghor, Panos Institute West Africa Bettina was a true and courageous pioneer in media development and freedom of expression. Many people will miss her. Our saddened condolences to Aidan White and to her family.

Gabriel Baglo Very sad news! My sincere condolences to Aidan White and to the family. Dear Bettina, rest in perfect peace!

Gareth Harding, Clear Europe Tragic news. So many wonderful years working with Bettina Peters at the European Journalism Centre. Such a warm, intelligent person who dedicated her life to improving journalist skills and media development. RIP Bettina.

Hassan Saeed Elmogummer Taha, Aljazeera Center for Public Liberties and Human Rights Bettina’s death is a loss for everyone who knew and worked with her around the world. My deepest condolences to our friend Aidan White, her family, and all her friends.

Jan Lublinski, DW Akademie Bettina was a pioneer who saw the necessity of international networking and collaboration to advance media development. She pursued her vision with a lot of energy. And she saw and communicated early on, during her time as GFMD’s director, that we needed to advance our organisations and establish broader and long-term media development approaches. These ideas, as well as her well-written publications, will stay with us.

James Deane, BBC Media Action Bettina was just a powerhouse of energy, commitment, and ideas and so dedicated to supporting media and democracy.

Jeanne Bourgault, Internews This is such sad news. Bettina was a lovely person, a real leader in our field, and a friend. As the first executive director of GFMD, we are all benefiting from her legacy and vision. This is a real loss for the media development world. My heart goes out to her family.

Jesper Holberg, International Media Support (IMS) I am really saddened by the news of Bettina’s death. She was an amazing fighter both professionally and personally. My thoughts go to Aidan White and her family.

Johan Romare, Embassy of Sweden in Liberia – Rest in Peace Bettina, you will be remembered.

Josh LaPorte, European Journalism Centre (EJC) Knowing Bettina, she put up a courageous fight these years. Bettina was an inspiration to me since we first met in her cramped IFJ office, Rue Royale, Brussels back in 1996. She became a mentor, a friend, and eventually my boss (at EJC). She was never more than a phone call away and a compassionate listener during all the time I knew her. Our community will certainly miss Bettina and her passionate focus on press freedom and media development, putting good journalism at the centre of it all. My thoughts are with Aidan, her family, and her friendships that span the globe.

Joyce Barnathan, International Centre for Journalism (ICFJ) Bettina and I worked very closely together when she was the first executive director of GFMD and I was the chair. We stayed in touch ever since. You may recall that GFMD gave her an award for her work in media development on World Press Freedom Day in 2016 when we understood the gravity of her illness. But she was a fighter – and battled back with great fortitude. There were some rough times, and she did her best to stay optimistic. I will miss her.

Leon Willems, Free Press Unlimited (FPU) It is with deep sadness that we at Free Press Unlimited heard about the devastating news that Bettina Peters died this morning. I worked with Bettina for many years in and with GFMD. What a loss for media development.

Luis Manuel Botello, International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) – It is indeed a terrible loss. Bettina was very passionate about press freedom. Remember we talked a lot when she was trying to engage more media partners in Latin America. We met once in Cartagena, Colombia, where we attended an event of the Garcia Marquez Foundation. My sincere condolences to her family.

Maria Laura Franciosi, Founding Chair of the Brussels Press Club I am devastated. I knew Bettina, worked with her, and could thus appreciate her qualities and enthusiasm, but above all, her courage in facing the illness and keep going. Well done Bettina, we will not forget you!

Marguerite Sullivan This is very sad news. I first met Bettina in spring 2007 as she was taking the helm of GFMD when I was just launching the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy.  We subsequently worked very closely together on a variety of media development projects, and she even wrote a report for CIMA.  She made a tremendous contribution to the media development field. Besides being professional colleagues, we became personal friends. I send my deepest condolences.

Mark Knight, Thomson Foundation Bettina was an exceptional person with impressive determination and energy. Her passing is a great loss to the foundation.

Milica Pesic, Media Diversity Institute The cleverest person in the media development world I’ve met, the best boss I’ve ever had, and a great human being – Bettina Peters died this morning. My heart is with her dearest and nearest. And a friend above all! Rest in peace Bettina Peters.

Mogens Schmidt I am deeply saddened by the news of Bettina passing away, and my heart goes out to her partner and her family. She has been a wonderful and powerful advocate for press freedom and media development. We shall honour her by continuing to work in her spirit.

Khashkhuu (Naraa) Naranjargal, Globe International – I am highly shocked by this news, and I’m saddened to hear it. I cannot believe I lost my big friend. In July, she responded to my message on LinkedIn, and I was planning to write to her again. She was the one who built my capacity in becoming a free expression activist; she always supported and helped me. Her contribution to development of free Mongolian media is always highly appreciated. I am going to miss her. My deepest condolences to Aidan and her family.

National Union of Journalists (India) We join our colleagues worldwide in mourning Bettina Peters, an exceptional person with impressive determination and energy. Her passing is a great loss to the press freedom and ethics community. She will be missed.

Olumide Ogunlade, Acclaim Nigeria Magazine – Bettina lives on! It saddens me to hear of the demise of such a great woman, an encourager, and a passionate fighter of press freedom. Though, I didn’t meet her in-person during her lifetime, but the testimonies and tributes read concerning her, her global inputs, interactions, and impacts are hugely inspiring. Indeed, she will be surely missed, but our consolations lies in the fact that her legacy lives on. From Nigeria and Acclaim Nigeria magazine, we join thousands from GFMD and others around the world to celebrate the life well spent for humanity and societal improvements, and the transition of Bettina Peters to eternal glory. Sister, you will always and fondly be remembered in our hearts.

Owais Aslam Ali, Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) I first met Bettina decades ago at the IFEX General Meeting, and since then developed a friendship that I cherished. She had a knack of getting things done in a pleasant and persuasive manner. Through IFJ and beyond, she made tremendous contributions to promoting freedom of expression worldwide. Her departure is a terrible loss, and she will be missed.

Patrick H. Leusch, DW Akademie and former GFMD Secretary-General – This is deeply sad news. I have been working with Bettina for many years when she was with EJC and later on, to build and make GFMD strong. She gave so much optimism and enthusiasm to the idea of a global community of media development people despite doubts and hesitance of many in the sector. Its was incredibly inspiring working with her. Bettina constantly gave life to new ideas, and sometimes it was hard to keep pace with her creativity and energy. My thoughts are with her family.

Peter McIntyre Such a strong woman, a clear mind, and a wonderful friend. Her life had purpose and meaning all the way to the end. Let’s celebrate her life as well as mourning her death.

Rana Sabbagh, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) Very sad news. Bettina was indeed a role model, an outstanding professional, and an amazing human being. She had all the qualities it took to be a great human and have a great professional and personal life, touching the heart and soul of many she has worked with and encouraged in her various roles. May her soul rest in peace. Big hug to Aidan from your big GFMD family and all friends around the globe.

Remzi Lani, Albanian Media Institute I had the opportunity to work with Bettina for more than 20 years. Bettina came to Tirana in the mid-90s to assist the newly established associations of journalists in Albania. Then I was impressed by her endless energy, the attention she paid to you, the clarity of her arguments. She immediately gained the friendship of the community of journalists in Albania. Later, in international conferences or congresses, Bettina knew by name everyone she had met, talked to them on the challenges they encountered, and everybody felt good around her – me included. It happened that we were together also at GFMD, from Athens to Grahamstown, and I do not hesitate to say that Bettina was the spirit of GFMD. She believed in this idea, in this network. It is difficult to find someone like her, able to keep alive a network of people or organisations since I have very rarely met a person that combines so well human and professional aspects. And rarely have I met someone as courageous as her. I always will remember Bettina as a friend, a partner, and a teacher, one to whom I owe greatly.

Renate Schroeder, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) – Bettina was not only my colleague and best trainer, as I took over her work as the European Officer in the IFJ in 1993, but also a real friend. I learned so much from her professionally, but I remember most her great sense of humour, positive attitude towards life, and people with a beautiful ironic twist. Even when she was very ill, she has always been interested in others’ lives, children, work, etc. Indeed, she will be missed a lot on all continents of this beautiful globe, in media development, in journalism, in trade unions, among women, and of course, within the IFJ and EFJ. Vielen Dank Bettina, dass es Dich gab!

Ricardo Corredor, GFMD Chairman A terrible loss for the world of media development! We will honour her and all she did to aspire for more free and independent media in our countries.

Simon Mkina, Tanzania Media Practitioners Association (TAMPA) Very sad that she has gone. We will miss her continued contributions to media freedom and development.  She was so inspirational and dedicated her entire life in seeing media fraternity becomes more vibrant in human rights and development.

Susan O’Keeffe A wonderful woman, dear friend, and a person who contributed to the upholding of journalism.

Toby Mendel, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) – I remember Bettina from my very early days at ARTICLE 19. She was a staunch advocate of freedom of expression and a really lovely person. My heart goes out to her family and close friends, and her death is a loss for all of us.

Wesley Gibbings, Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) – This is very, very sad news indeed. Bettina’s were the warm arms that welcomed my organisation into the GFMD fold. She regularly kept in touch with us and provided expert advice when required. This is a real loss to the global media development community.

In this video from 2014 Bettina talks about some of her work at the Thomson Foundation.



You are using an outdated browser which can not show modern web content.

We suggest you download Chrome or Firefox.