Journalism School Announces 2011 Winners of Cabot Prizes for Latin American and Caribbean Reporting

September 13, 2011

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has announced the 2011 winners of theMaria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. The oldest international award in journalism, now in its 73rd year, the Cabot Prizes are conferred by Columbia University to honor journalists who have furthered inter-American understanding.

The 2011 winners are: Arizona Daily Star (United States), El Diario de Juárez (Mexico), Riodoce (Mexico), Carlos Dada (El Salvador) and Jean-Michel Leprince (Canada).

"More than anything, this year's Cabot Prizes celebrate journalists on the front lines—two small but courageous papers braving drug criminals in Mexico; a breakthrough digital newspaper blazing an independent and ethical trail in Central America; a Canadian broadcast journalist showing us scenes and stories of real life that too often do not appear on U.S. TV; and a medium-sized, regional U.S. paper straining its resources to give its readers deep and nuanced coverage of the U.S-Mexico border," said Columbia Journalism School Dean Nicholas Lemann. "This unique, high-quality journalism sets an example for journalists and media owners throughout the Americas."

Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger will present medals and $5,000 awards to each winner at a dinner and ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 26, on the University’s Morningside Heights campus.

The following are excerpts from the Cabot Prize Board citations for each of the winners.

Arizona Daily Star, United States

“No one particular political issue currently creates more emotion and debate in the United States than immigration. In no state has the tumult been greater than in Arizona. And in Arizona, the people living closest to the sector of the U.S.-Mexico border where more than half of all illegal crossings happen and where violent criminals smuggle drugs read the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star. The Star has fulfilled its responsibilities with distinction. It has run a steady stream of major enterprise stories and series for the last decade that have explored the issue in all its complications and human dimensions—not just its sensational aspects. In a confusing political cacophony of shouting voices in Arizona, the Daily Star is a force for fact-based sanity.”

El Diario de Juárez, Mexico
Riodoce, Mexico

“Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. Thirty journalists in Mexico have been murdered and another seven have disappeared in the past five years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Gunmen strafe and throw grenades at media outlets. Death threats are a daily occurrence. In two of the most dangerous cities in Mexico—Ciudad Juárez and Culiacán, Sinaloa—journalists at two regional papers heroically struggle to carry on. We honor El Diario de Juárez andRiodoce of Culiacán to give heart to all those exceptional journalists throughout Mexico braving death to do their jobs, especially in areas ravaged by drug wars.”

Carlos Dada, El Salvador

“Carlos Dada is the founder and director of El Faro, a vanguard, online news website which he runs from El Salvador, a small country that is still suffering from the trauma of its decade-long civil war. El Faro means lighthouse or beacon—and that’s what it is. With a limited budget, it has consistently published outstanding stories and projects—investigating long-ignored crimes and human rights abuses and now tracking growing drug violence throughout Central America. From its inception in 1998, El Faro has shown how digital media can overcome barriers of cost and tradition and offer honest journalism of high quality in a region where press standards are low and much of the media is highly partisan or even corrupt.”

Jean-Michel Leprince, Canada

“Jean-Michel Leprince has brought Latin America to life for Canadians since the 1970s. He has offered vivid and thoughtful French language television and radio reporting on the region for Société Radio-Canada/CBC. His stories have covered a wide spectrum—ranging from the impact of street gangs in El Salvador and in Guatemala; the drug war in Michoacán, Mexico; the evolution of gay rights in Cuba; to the prosecution of Colombian politicians accused of complicity with illegal paramilitary groups. These are not easy stories to tell, and Leprince does not shy away from trying to explain their complexities. The result is broadcast journalism at its best. It is a fine illustration of what U.S. television viewers have lost since the retreat of U.S. networks from the region.”

The Cabot Prizes are conferred by the Columbia University Board of Trustees based on the advice and approval of the Cabot Prize Board. Members of the board in 2011 were: Arlene Morgan, board chair and associate dean for prizes and programs, Columbia Journalism School; Josh Friedman, director of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes; David C. Adams, editor, Poder; José de Córdoba, senior special writer, The Wall Street JournalJohn H. Coatsworth, interim provost, Columbia University; Michèle Montas, special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Haiti; María Teresa Ronderos, director,Semana.comEdward Schumacher-Matos, James Madison Visiting Professor, Columbia Journalism School; Paulo Sotero, director, Brazil Institute, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Enrique Zileri, director, Caretas magazine. Five of the 10 members of the Cabot Prize Board are Cabot medalists.