Columbia Journalism School

Cabot Prizes: Current Winners

September 6, 2013 — The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism today announced the 2013 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. The oldest international award in journalism will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with a special series of events.  The Cabot Prize honors journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding.

The 2013 gold medalists are Jon Lee Anderson, USA, The New Yorker; Donna De Cesare, USA; Documentary Photographer and Freelance Writer; Mauri König, Brazil, Special Reporter, Gazeta do Povo, Curitiba; Alejandro Santos Rubino, Colombia, Editor-in-Chief, Revista Semana. In a special ceremony, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez will be present to accept the citation originally awarded to her in 2009. The Cuban government had barred her from traveling to New York in 2009, but is expected to permit her to travel this year.

“We at the Journalism School regard the Cabot Prizes as a unique opportunity to inspire journalists in the Americas by recognizing the most talented, innovative and courageous among them,” said Steve Coll, Dean of Columbia Journalism School.  “I don't think we could have picked a better group of winners this year. They make us proud, especially as we mark the 75th anniversary.”

“Columbia is rightly renowned for not only teaching great journalists, but also for honoring great journalism that’s essential to informing citizens and improving our society,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar. “The Cabot Prize has long held a special place in our mission because it recognizes courageous reporting about Latin America – often in countries where freedom of the press is far from a given and exercised at great personal risk. So even as we celebrate journalistic excellence, the Cabot Prize advances the freedom of thought and robust civil society that are at the core of our University’s values.”

Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger will present medals and $5,000 honoraria to each winner and plaques to their employers at a celebratory ceremony on Monday, October, 21, at Low Library on the university’s Morningside Heights campus.

In addition to the celebration, the 75th anniversary will be marked by a two-day conference titled, Press Freedom, Press Standards and Democracy in Latin America.  The conference is sponsored in association with the Cabot Family Trust, the World Bank and National Public Radio and will take place Monday, October 21 and Tuesday, October 22 at Columbia University.

Excerpts from the 2013 award citations follow. To learn more about the prizes, click here.

2013 Cabot Medalists:

Jon Lee Anderson, USA, The New Yorker

Jon Lee Anderson has been carrying out a journalistic love affair with the Americas for three decades. A wonderful journalist, he has been sent to cover other parts of the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan. But he has always come back to the Americas.


Anderson’s work has ranged far and wide over the years. Just a few examples—covering the 2010 Haitian earthquake and its aftermath; creating penetrating profiles of a Brazilian drug lord and Hugo Chavez and his effect on Venezuela; breaking new ground in a biography of Argentine guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara.

Anderson’s huge body of work is contained in his many long form pieces for The New Yorker and in six books he has written. He has helped train a generation of journalists covering the Americas with frequent teaching appearances at the Fundación de Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano founded by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Donna De Cesare, USA, Documentary Photographer and Freelance Writer


A photojournalist who has worked in the Americas for more than three decades, Donna 

De Cesare is a voice for the voiceless, her images seamlessly weaving the stories of today's violence in Central America and beyond with the region's history.


Her work appears in traditional publications and on the web in her compelling bilingual website Destiny’s Children, where she bears witness to everyday violence and social inequality both south and north of the border.

Her book published this year, “Unsettled/Desasosiego,” was described by The New York Times as “a look back on lives that were lost, and some who triumphed, during her many years in the region."

De Cesare, a professor in the School of Journalism, College of Communication, at the University of Texas, Austin, plays a significant role in developing tools for journalists at the Dart Center on Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School.

Mauri König, Brazil, Special Reporter, Gazeta do Povo

For more than two decades, Brazilian investigative reporter Mauri König has braved threats and beatings to expose human rights abuses, sex trafficking and corruption.


Among König’s most explosive investigative projects was a multi-year series for Gazeta do Povo of Curitiba, where he has worked since 2002. König’s 2006-2007 series uncovered sex trafficking of children and adolescents all along the Brazilian border and led to the arrest of a key trafficker. 

In 2002, König documented the recruitment and kidnapping of Brazilian children for military service in Paraguay. While researching the story, he was brutally beaten with chains and strangled and “left for dead” after photographing a police station.

Last May 2012, he received serious death threats after an investigative series on police corruption in the state of Paraná. After a follow-up story last December, he was warned of a plot to kill him and shoot up his house. König went into hiding with his family and returned to Brazil several weeks later.


Alejandro Santos Rubino, Colombia, Editor-in-Chief, Revista Semana

Alejandro Santos Rubino comes from Colombia’s preeminent journalism family—for generations it owned El Tiempo, the major newspaper in Colombia. But Rubino wanted to prove himself and forge his own career. And that he has done with great distinction. After six years at El Tiempo, Rubino became a columnist at Semana, Colombia’s main newsmagazine. Before he turned 30, he had become Semana’s editor in chief. He has used this post to improve Colombian journalism civil society and interamerican understanding.

Rubino has used Semana and a series of prizes and projects he created to expose government wrongdoing, to recognize Colombia’s best journalists and public officials and to encourage investigations of the murders of journalists. Under his courageous hands-on editing, the magazine exposed past President Alvaro Uribe’s illegal spying on journalists, judges and politicians--and revealed links between politicians and paramilitary leaders. 

Press Release: 2013 Maria Moors Cabot Prize Recipients

Cabot Prizes website

Select the academic degree that interests you: