Columbia Journalism School Announces Maria Moors Cabot Prize Winners Honoring Outstanding Reporting in Latin America and The Caribbean
The prize jury also honors a group of courageous Venezuelan journalists for their extraordinary reporting on the region
Columbia Journalism School announced the 2019 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on the Americas. The 2019 Cabot Prize winners are Angela Kocherga, Albuquerque Journal, United States; Pedro Xavier Molina, political cartoonist, Nicaragua; Boris Muñoz, The New York Times en Español, United States; and Marcela Turati, journalist, author, Mexico.
Armando.Info, a Venezuelan news website published by a group of courageous investigative journalists operating in one of the most hostile environments to the free press, was also selected by the Cabot Prize jury for a special citation.
The Cabot Prizes honor journalists for career excellence and coverage of the Western Hemisphere that furthers inter-American understanding. Godfrey Lowell Cabot of Boston founded the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes as a memorial to his wife in 1938. They are the oldest international journalism awards.
Columbia University Lee C. President Bollinger will present gold medals and a $5,000 honorarium to each winner, and a certificate to the citation winner at the dinner and ceremony on Wednesday, October 16, at Low Library on the University’s Morningside Heights campus.
2019 Maria Moors Cabot Medalists
Angela Kocherga, The Albuquerque Journal, United States
Angela Kocherga has made it her mission to tell the story of the borderlands where the United States and Mexico meet, a line that both unites and divides. Over a career spanning more than 30 years, she has chronicled these vivid tales on television, on the radio and in print, sharing her deep knowledge of the border’s twists and turns from southern Texas to Tijuana. Nearly two decades ago, Kocherga first introduced viewers to the young Central Americans who risked their lives atop the train called “The Beast,” riding north with dreams of finding safety in the United States.
When drug wars erupted across the line in Ciudad Juarez, she went where other reporters feared to go, explaining the cartels’ feuds and revealing their victims’ sorrows. Kocherga set the record straight when politicians tried to dehumanize a new surge of migrants, showing that they were not criminals, but families in need of protection. At a time when United States policy calls for building walls, her reporting serves to build understanding.
Pedro Xavier Molina, political cartoonist, Nicaragua
For more than two decades, Pedro Xavier Molina has been one of Nicaragua’s sharpest observers and has offered a critical view of the relationship between the United States and Latin America. With witty humor and extraordinary artistic talent, he is an authentic example of speaking truth to power. Public figures in Nicaragua and abroad have felt the bite of his cartoons, which are published in media around the world.
Today, in the face of hardline governments everywhere fomenting an increasingly hostile environment for journalism and satire, Molina uses his pen and wit to take aim not only at the repressive government of President Daniel Ortega, but also at human rights abuses throughout the Americas and the world. He places the Nicaraguan situation—often without words—in the context of global trends. His cartoons—exquisitely drawn and equally forceful—translate complicated situations for readers in Nicaragua and beyond. His vision effectively demonstrates the power of satire and cartooning as a way of furthering Inter-American understanding.
Boris Muñoz, The New York Times en Español, United States
As opinion editor for The New York Times en Español, Boris Muñoz has brought fresh, vibrant and diverse voices to its pages. Muñoz’ groundbreaking efforts have also resulted in the proliferation of Latin American views in the English-language daily, which translates and adapts the opinion pieces from Spanish.
Muñoz, a native of Venezuela, brings decades of experience to his editorial work at the New York Times en Español as a prolific reporter, writer and editor in Latin America and the United States.
From his expansive networks throughout the hemisphere, Muñoz curates a lively cross section of opinions, ranging from musicians to writers to world leaders and civic activists. He created special series on Cuba, Venezuela, Latin American elections and even the World Cup, building bridges among the Spanish-speaking readers in the United States, and Latin American and English-speaking readers. The richness and depth of these editorial pages have set a gold standard for opinion writing in Spanish and provide models for a region which is now only beginning to experiment with the genre.
Marcela Turati, journalist, author, Mexico
Marcela Turati is a formidable force in Mexican journalism: brave, determined, and talented. She has chronicled the most important and often dangerous issues in Mexico, with ramifications throughout the region. Her focus has been on the violence unleashed by drug cartels and the fight against drug trafficking, primarily from the victims’ perspective, documenting their search for justice. She explores how such levels of bloodshed and impunity affect society, and the government’s responsibility - even complicity.
She is a promoter and leader of collaborative projects. In one of those projects she investigated the 2010 execution of 72 mostly Central American migrants, and the forced disappearance of hundreds more, by drug traffickers and police in the deadly Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Her reporting revealed the hidden tragedy of massive disappearances in Mexico and exposed a vast number of clandestine mass graves in the country. Turati repeatedly returns to the stories after other reporters have moved on, documenting the victims’ identities and their fate, and pursuing those responsible.
Turati contributes her expertise by training and mentoring emerging journalists. She is also an ardent advocate for press freedom. She is the cofounder of Periodistas de a Pie, a grassroots reporting group, and Quinto Elemento Lab, which is dedicated to supporting journalists who investigate and publish hidden stories.
2019 Special Citation: Armando.Info, Venezuela
In addition to the gold medal for lifetime achievement, the Cabot jury also searches for journalistic accomplishments from the past year that have had an extraordinary impact on the region. In Venezuela, a group of courageous investigative journalists publish the news website Armando.Info in one of the most hostile environments to the free press in the world. They have been harassed, threatened, and censored. Four of them were forced into exile last year. With their colleagues, they continue covering the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela exposing corruption, human rights violations, and environmental crimes, among others.
Despite all these obstacles, Armando.Info journalists have produced more than 400 investigative pieces in the past five years, including transnational projects, mostly in collaboration with independent media from other South American countries.
For the relentless efforts of its journalists, and their contributions to our understanding of the dire situation facing the Venezuelan people, the jury selects Armando.Info as the recipient of a 2019 Special Citation of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize.
About Columbia Journalism School
For more than a century, the school has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened its doors in 1912 and offers Masters of Science, Masters of Arts, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, and Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the Mike Berger Award and the WERT Prize for Women Business Journalists.
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