NEW YORK – Photographer Rodrigo Abd of The Associated Press and three other journalists in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador won this year's Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which recognizes excellence in coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism on Wednesday announced this year's winners of the award, the oldest prize in international journalism.
The winners are Abd of the AP; Rosental C. Alves of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Margarita Martinez, a Colombian filmmaker; and Oscar Martinez of the digital newspaper El Faro in El Salvador.
A special citation was awarded to Marina Walker Guevara of the Panama Papers reporting team at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
"The journalistic excellence displayed by the four 2016 Cabot medalists — and by the recipient of this year's special citation for reporting on the Panama Papers — reminds us just how much we rely on courageous reporting beyond our borders to be well-informed members of a global society," Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger said.
Columbia said Abd "has created close-up images of people in Latin America that illuminate urgent social issues" with "untiring commitment and uncommon empathy."
"He looks at those who are usually overlooked, plunging into Guatemalan sewer waters and climbing to Andean coca fields to show the struggles so many face in the region," the announcement said.
Abd, who also has worked in Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and other parts of the world, was on the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for photographic coverage of the civil war in Syria.
"Being a photographer can be a solitary job," he said in a telephone interview. "Awards like this are very important — to encourage you and push you to move forward."
Columbia said Alves "is a truly innovative leader in a changing media landscape who has made significant contributions to a new generation of journalists in the Americas and beyond." After two decades reporting and editing at Jornal do Brasil, Alves is now a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin where he is expanding the reach and the quality of journalism, it said.
Martinez, an independent television and film producer, "has explained the nuances of the Colombian conflict and its complex culture in a simple, compelling and engaging way," the announcement said. She has covered Colombia's peace process and has told the story of indigenous people fighting for land through peaceful means.
Columbia cited Martinez for explaining "mass migration, organized crime and the violence" of Central America with moving prose and detail. "With extraordinary courage and tenacity, Oscar Martinez has chronicled the most important and urgent stories of the Western Hemisphere," it said.
On the Panama Papers citation, Columbia said Walker Guevara was the chief editor "of an unprecedented collaborative effort that revealed how a Panamanian law firm assisted world elites in sheltering wealth through offshore tax havens."
The Cabot Prize was founded in 1938. The awards will be handed out Oct. 18 at Columbia University, and the winners will receive a medal and $5,000 each.