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Cabot Prizes for Reporting on Latin America Include Special Citation to Cuba's La Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling

Joao Antonio Barros

The Graduate School of Journalism has announced the 65th annual winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America -- the oldest international awards in journalism.

This year's recipients are:

  • Joao Antonio Barros, special reporter, Jornal O Dia, Brazil. An example of the new generation of investigative journalists scrutinizing law enforcement in Rio de Janeiro, Barros has risked his life for the past decade investigating and documenting police corruption, brutality and human rights violations
  • Raul Kraiselburd, editor, El Dia, Argentina, has taken courageous stands against dictatorships and refused to be silenced by intimidation throughout his 42-year career. He has been instrumental in advancing press freedom throughout the hemisphere;
  • Mac Margolis, special correspondent, Newsweek International. In 21 years of reporting from his base in Latin America, he has done a remarkable job of deciphering the complexities of Brazilian politics, economics, society and the environment for his readers, and
  • Michael Reid, Americas editor, The Economist, has led the magazine's thoughtful and incisive coverage of the region over the past nine years.

Raul Kraiselburd

A Special Citation will be awarded to:

La Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling, for an unprecedented demonstration of courage and professionalism at enormous personal cost. The group published just two issues of De Cuba, an independent general-interest magazine, in 2002 and 2003 before being shut down by the Castro regime. Many of the magazine's staff, as well as others from La Sociedad, have been sent to Cuban prisons for terms ranging from 14 to 27 years.

For 65 years the Cabot Prizes have been presented to reporters and editors who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their coverage, demonstrated commitment to freedom of the press and inter-American understanding.

"These prizes are important because they recognize outstanding work and encourage news organizations and journalists throughout the hemisphere to increase the quality and quantity of their coverage," said David A. Klatell, interim dean of the Journalism School. "In an era when many important international stories go unwritten, unpublished or unread, the Cabot Prizes exemplify the Graduate School of Journalism's continuing commitment to the highest standards of journalism, inspiring others to achieve and maintain those standards."

Mac Margolis

President Lee C. Bollinger will present the prizes at a dinner and ceremony on Thursday, October 9, at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda of Low Memorial Library. For the fifth consecutive year, the award ceremony will be held as a benefit to raise scholarship funds for international students, especially those from Latin America. Each winner will receive a Cabot gold medal and a $5,000 honorarium. Including this year's awards, 237 prizes and 53 special citations will have been conferred on journalists from more than 30 countries over the past 65 years.

The prizes are awarded by the Trustees of Columbia on the recommendation of the dean of the Journalism School. An advisory committee of journalists and educators concerned with inter-American affairs assists the dean. Nominations are also sought from news organizations and individuals throughout Latin and North America. Josh Friedman, director of international programs at the Journalism School, is the director of the prizes.

Founded in 1938 by the late Godfrey Lowell Cabot of Boston as a memorial to his wife, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes are administered by the Graduate School of Journalism.

Detailed information on the 2003 winners

Joao Antonio Barros, special reporter at Jornal O Dia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has devoted the last decade to investigating and documenting corruption, brutality and human rights violations by the police in Rio de Janeiro. He unmasked police officers moonlighting as death squad members and uncovered links between politicians and organized crime. He also documented pervasive corruption in the prison system where money could buy cell phones, drugs, sex, improved accommodations and transfers. Barros is an example of the new generation of investigative journalists who have challenged the political and police establishments in search of accountability amidst the war-like urban violence of Rio de Janeiro.

Michael Reid

Raul Kraiselburd, editor of El Dia, La Plata, Argentina, has shown enormous courage in standing up to dictatorships, refusing to be silenced by intimidation. His father was kidnapped by the Montoneros and killed when the police closed in to rescue him. His two-year old son was later kidnapped and found dead. Kraiselburd was subjected to threats and ransom demands. Despite this pressure, he maintained the independence of El Dia, and the newspaper continued to report on disappearances and issues that were covered up by most of the Argentine media. With this award, Columbia University has now recognized the three newspapers --The Buenos Aires Herald, Diario Rio Negro and El Dia of La Plata -- that refused to submit to self-censorship during the Dirty War in Argentina and which repudiated state terrorism tactics, particularly the abduction and clandestine killing of between 10,000 and 30,000 people during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

Kraiselburd has also been instrumental in advancing press freedom throughout the hemisphere. His passion for independent journalism has inspired many major projects of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), where he served as chairman of the Freedom of the Press Committee, as chairman of the executive committee and as president.

In 21 years of reporting from his base in Latin America, Newsweek International special correspondent Mac Margolis has done a remarkable job of deciphering the complexities of Brazilian politics, economics, society and the environment. Not all correspondents are capable of living more than two decades in one country and maintaining a critical and imaginative eye, but Margolis has done so. He has doggedly reported on Brazil's key unresolved issues: landless peasants, grinding poverty and environmental degradation. These reports have often sparked public debate in Brazil and, in some cases, government action. Margolis' book on the Amazon rainforest, The Last New World, is a significant contribution to international understanding of the complex economic, racial and political factors at play in the quest to both protect and exploit the world's largest rainforest. Margolis said he left the United States for Brazil because of his compulsion to understand other people and cultures. Today, he clearly understands what makes Brazil tick. Through his sensitive and beautiful prose, Margolis makes Brazil comprehensible and multi-dimensional to others.

Michael Reid, Americas editor of The Economist

Throughout the past decades, some of the most thoughtful and profound coverage of Latin America --that provided by The Economist --has been anonymous. The jury of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes wishes to recognize the extraordinary and consistent efforts made by The Economist magazine. Those qualities are personified by its Americas editor, Michael Reid, who has covered Latin America for 20 years. He first worked as a freelance journalist for The Economist based in Mexico and then as South America bureau chief based in Brazil. As Americas editor, he is guiding a new corps of reporters as well as continuing to travel in and write on the region. The recent Economist surveys of Colombia and Brazil are especially worthy examples of its distinctive brand of journalism.

The Special Citation for 2003

La Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling, Cuba

Cabot Special Citations are awarded only on occasion to organizations or individuals that lack the traditional large body of work over many years but have significantly contributed to journalism. The Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling -- named after the Cuban journalist and writer Manuel Marquez Sterling -- is only two years old, yet its brief history of publishing an independent general-interest magazine in Cuba marked an historic moment in what then appeared to be an opening up of Cuba's media environment. Unfortunately, after two issues, the bi-monthly magazine, De Cuba, ceased publication because many on its staff, as well as others among the 55-member Sociedad, were arrested, charged and convicted of "subversion" for seeking to express their independent voices. After trials which were closed to the press, they were given prison terms ranging from 14 to 27 years. None of them will be able to be present to receive this Cabot Special Citation, but the jury of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes believes the accomplishments of La Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling, undertaken at such enormous personal cost, are an unprecedented demonstration of courage and professionalism.

La Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Marquez Sterling

The recommendations for the winners are made with the advice and approval of the board of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes. Members of the committee are: David A. Klatell; Josh Friedman; Rosental Calmon Alves, Professor and Knight Chair in International Journalism at the University of Texas in Austin and former executive editor of the Jornal do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro; Peter Cleaves, member of the international Council of AVINA, a foundation that supports sustainable development in Latin America, and former director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin; Robert Cox, assistant editor of the Post & Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald and past president of the Inter American Press Association; John Dinges, assistant professor at the Journalism School and former editorial director of National Public Radio; Juan Enriquez-Cabot, great-grandson of Maria Moors Cabot, who is a currently director of the Life Science Project at the Harvard Business School; Claude Erbsen, former vice president and director of World Services for The Associated Press; Linda Robinson, senior writer at U.S. News & World Report; Edward Seaton, editor in chief of The Manhattan (Kansas) Mercury, former chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and past president of the Inter American Press Association; Edward Schumacher, chief executive and editorial director of Meximerica Media and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Americas; Geri Smith, Mexico bureau chief for BusinessWeek and Enrique Zileri, director of Caretas magazine in Peru. Six of the thirteen members of the Cabot Prize Board have won the Cabot medal.

Published: Jul 07, 2003
Last modified: Jul 03, 2003


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