2022 Maria Moors Cabot Prize Winners Announced

July 21, 2022

Honoring Outstanding Reporting in Latin America and the Caribbean

Investigative and Innovative Journalists Honored

Columbia Journalism School announced the 2022 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on the Americas. The 2022 Cabot Prize winners are Daniel Alarcón, Radio Ambulante, United States; Laura Castellanos, independent journalist and co-founder of Reporteras en Guardia, Mexico; Ioan Grillo, independent journalist, United Kingdom and Mexico; and Daniel Matamala, CHV Noticias, Chile.

In addition, the Cabot Jury selected a 2022 Special Citation recipient that honors efforts to promote journalist safety: Javier Garza Ramos, independent journalist, Mexico.

The Cabot Prizes honor journalists and news organizations 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.

“The 2022 Cabot honorees have devoted their lives to covering complex and enormously consequential stories,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “They, like so many journalists in the Americas, continue to face growing threats of violence, censorship, and harassment for doing their jobs. On behalf of the entire University, I offer my sincere congratulations and my thanks for their tireless and invaluable work.”

“This year, the jury is spotlighting the importance of investigative journalists and innovative storytellers in the Americas,” said Cabot Board Chair Rosental Alves. “These four winners and the citation recipient all have talent and courage. They inspire us with their accomplishments.”

Each winner will receive a gold medal and a $5,000 honorarium. The 2022 Cabot Prize winners and the Special Citation recipient will be celebrated at Columbia on Tuesday, October 11.

2022 Maria Moors Cabot Prizes Winners: 

Daniel Alarcón, Radio Ambulante, United States

Daniel Alarcón is a journalist, radio producer and novelist who has spent his career telling the stories of the Americas in English and Spanish, in print and audio, in fiction and nonfiction. Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Alarcón began his career writing fiction. His 2007 novel Lost City Radio was a finalist for the PEN-Faulkner Prize. As a print journalist, Alarcón now covers the region for The New Yorker, publishing deeply-reported pieces about political corruption in Peru, social unrest in Chile, or the aftermath of the world’s most virulent outbreak of Covid-19 in Ecuador. He is an assistant professor at Columbia Journalism School.

In 2011, together with his wife, Carolina Guerrero, Alarcón founded the groundbreaking narrative journalism podcast Radio Ambulante. In just over a decade, Radio Ambulante has revolutionized the audio journalism landscape in Latin America, publishing more than three hundred episodes from more than twenty countries, telling stories of love and family, migration and money, youth culture and politics. In 2016, Radio Ambulante joined NPR, and remains its only Spanish-language podcast. In 2021, Alarcón’s work earned him a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” For all of these innovations in storytelling, and the fostering of a broad community of listeners we are proud to award Daniel Alarcón with a Maria Moors Cabot Prize.

Laura Castellanos, independent journalist and co-founder of Reporteras en Guardia, Mexico

Over the course of her 30-year-long career, Laura Castellanos has become one of Mexico's leading independent reporters, producing consistently excellent work that demonstrates her commitment to the truth and her talent for in-depth reporting. A tireless journalist, feminist and author of six books, Castellanos is widely respected for her revelatory investigations that have uncovered uncomfortable truths, including stories about the extrajudicial killings by security forces in Apatzingán in 2015 and elsewhere. She does this challenging work as a freelancer for Mexican and US publications, documenting the underrepresented, and holding leaders accountable at her own risk.

Over her career, Castellanos has developed a new journalistic narrative that addresses issues of structural violence, keeping issues of gender, class and ethnicity in the forefront. She is the co-founder of Reporteras en Guardia, a collective of hundreds of female reporters from around the country who build the digital memorial mataranadie.com(link is external) with the profiles of journalists who are victims of murder and disappearance in Mexico, considered the most dangerous country in the world to practice their profession.

The Maria Moors Cabot Jury honors Laura Castellanos as an example of a courageous reporter who continues to do her extraordinary job in the face of adversity and violence.

Ioan Grillo, independent journalist, United Kingdom and Mexico

In 2000, when Ioan Grillo moved from England to Mexico, he dreamed of working as a foreign correspondent in Latin America covering guerrilla warfare and other conflicts that have so often affected the region. He ended up covering another kind of conflict; the so-called “War on Drugs” or “Drug War,” which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, including the assassination of dozens of journalists in recent years.

As a staff writer or freelance contributor to several prestigious American and European news outlets, Grillo has published more than 1,000 stories from Mexico and other Latin American countries over the last two decades. He also moved beyond day-to-day coverage, taking on in-depth investigative reporting from the frontlines and longform narratives, including three books and over ten documentaries and docuseries. 

In 2021, Grillo published his third book, Blood Gun Money: How America Arms Gangs and Cartels, after a four-year-long investigation. He traveled to the United States to track, as he said in a New York Times article, “this so-called iron river of guns, in an effort to understand why the United States and Mexico have so badly failed to stop it.” For his courage and tenacity, the Maria Moors Cabot Jury is proud to honor Ioan Grillo with a Maria Moors Cabot gold medal.

Daniel Matamala, CHV Noticias, Chile

Daniel Matamala is a remarkable innovator in journalism who has managed to juggle platforms, including print, broadcast and digital, while also maintaining the highest quality of investigative journalism.

Through the prism of economics, Matamala takes on business and political elites from Chile to Venezuela to the U.S.-Mexico border. But he also shows a compassionate reportorial eye for those at the bottom of the economic ladder who suffer most at the hands of the powerful. 

Matamala has primarily worked for television networks in his native Chile as reporter, interviewer and host, and in important publications such as La Tercera in Chile and Letras Libres in Mexico. 

In half a dozen books, in Spanish and in English, Matamala has focused on the way behind-the-scenes money manipulates politics, war, and even sports. It is rare for a reporter to be able to translate such an impressive command of economics into meaningful stories that go to the roots and the heart of injustice. His reporting has had a major impact on Inter-American understanding. For his journalistic rigor and innovative approach to reporting, the Maria Moors Cabot Jury is proud to honor Daniel Matamala with a Maria Moors Cabot Prize.

2022 Maria Moors Cabot Special Citation:

Javier Garza Ramos, independent journalist, Mexico

For more than 25 years, Javier Garza Ramos has been a journalist committed to serve and inform his community under the most extreme circumstances, while also dedicating himself to journalist safety in Mexico and elsewhere in the world.

Having experienced first-hand violent attacks in Mexico as editorial director of El Siglo de Torreón, Garza Ramos established safety protocols that reporters and editors started to follow when covering violence or being at risk. Those protocols were soon replicated in other newsrooms in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and the United States.

After he left El Siglo, he continued to be an advocate for freedom of the press and the protection of reporters in Mexico and beyond. Garza Ramos started new journalistic projects and brought focus to the importance of local news.

In these difficult times when independent journalism is under attack in Mexico and many other countries in the Americas, the Cabot Board honors Javier Garza Ramos with a 2022 Maria Moors Cabot Special Citation as an enduring example of intrepid reporting, and commitment to his colleagues in the face of adversity.

Members of the Cabot Prize Board in 2022

Jury Chair Rosental Alves, Knight Chair in International Journalism, University of Texas, Austin; Hugo Alconada Mon, investigative journalist, La Nación (Argentina); Juan Enríquez Cabot, chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, LLC; Carlos Fernando Chamorro, founder and editor, Confidencial (Nicaragua); Gustavo Gorriti, journalist and founder of IDL Reporteros, a non-profit, investigative journalism website in Peru; Marjorie Miller, administrator, Pulitzer Prizes, Columbia University; Julia Preston, contributing writer at The Marshall Project, previously covered immigration at The New York Times; Giannina Segnini, director of the Master of Science Data Journalism Program at the Journalism School at Columbia; Elena Cabral, assistant dean, academic programs and communications at the Journalism School at Columbia; Tracy Wilkinson, reporter covering foreign affairs out of the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau; Abi Wright, executive director of Professional Prizes at the Journalism School at Columbia.