For Outstanding Reporting on Latin America & the Caribbean
Reporters from The AP, GloboNews, Página Siete, and The New York Times Honored
New York, NY, August 12, 2015 — Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism announced the 2015 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on the Americas. They are Lucas Mendes, GloboNews, Brazil; Raúl Peñaranda, Página Siete, Bolivia; Simon Romero, The New York Times, United States; Mark Stevenson, The Associated Press, United States. The Maria Moors Cabot Special Citation is awarded to Ernesto Londoño, The New York Times, United States.
The Cabot Prizes honor journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and furthered inter-American understanding through their reporting and editorial work. 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.
Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger will present gold medals and a $5,000 honorarium to each winner, and a certificate to the citation honoree at a dinner and ceremony on Wednesday, October 14, at Low Library on the university’s Morningside Heights campus.
2015 Cabot Medalists
Lucas Mendes, GloboNews, Brazil
A pioneering foreign correspondent for Brazilian print media and television since the late 1960s, Lucas Mendes has built an outstanding, sustained and distinguished body of work that has significantly advanced understanding between the America’s two largest nations: Brazil and the United States.
Mendes has led the influential weekly television magazine program, "Manhattan Connection," as the host and executive editor for a quarter century on GloboNews, Brazil’s first 24-hour television news channel. It is one of the most watched programs on cable television in Brazil. In 1997, the program first covered allegations of corruption at the giant state oil company Petrobras. When federal investigators revealed further allegations of wrongdoing at the highest levels of Petrobras in 2014, Mendes’ program was the only national television news outlet to cover the growing national scandal.
A gifted writer and editor, Mendes has informed millions from his adoptive New York and inspired generations of young Brazilians to embrace journalism with substantive news stories, commentary and interviews that mix information, analysis and humor to illuminate pressing contemporary issues.
Raúl Peñaranda, Página Siete, Bolivia
Raul Peñaranda is one of the most accomplished journalists in Bolivia today. He has been a successful media entrepreneur, an innovator, an outstanding editor and analyst, a prolific book writer and “a voice of cool reason” in the heated and polarized political environment the country has experienced in recent years.
He created three independent media outlets, all of them successful: Nueva Economía, La Época and Página Siete, an accomplishment in any country today. Página Siete, designed while he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, featured an innovative business plan financing iPads to readers in order to build his audience and increase the then-incipient Internet penetration.
His strong stance against abuse of power and media concentration by the Morales regime, particularly in his latest book “Control Remoto,” earned him relentless persecution by the government, which called him a traitor and a spy. Despite this, Peñaranda continues to write his columns and articles as an editorial writer and editor of the International Sunday edition of the paper he founded.
Simon Romero, The New York Times, United States
In more than two decades of covering Latin America, Simon Romero has demonstrated extraordinary depth and breadth—as well as a vast historical knowledge— in explaining the continent to readers in the United States and beyond.
He has covered the big and politically sensitive stories such as Venezuela under Chávez, Colombia's guerrilla war and its hopes for peace and Brazil's crusade against hyperinflation and corruption. He has written with fairness and thoroughness in highly polarized situations, providing nuance and context.
But perhaps Romero's most compelling talent is to root out small and difficult chronicles—often in places where hardly anyone travels—to tell larger stories. His reporting has taken him to far-flung places, from the cave paintings in northeast Brazil where the first indigenous peoples reported their stories to battling mountain sickness in Chile to report on radio antennas set up to study the origins of the universe. He can write the daily story, the big picture contextual story, and the telling small story with universal resonance.
Mark Stevenson, Associated Press, United States
Mark Stevenson has covered Mexico and its complicated, sometimes violent, social conflicts for over two decades. In the process, he has ventured into some of the most remote and dangerous corners of the country, stepping surefootedly in areas where others fear to tread.
Last year, he went into one such area after he realized something was wrong with a routine press release from Mexico’s defense ministry. It claimed that 22 members of a drug gang had been killed in a confrontation with an army unit that had suffered only one casualty – a wounded soldier. Stevenson traveled to the scene of the confrontation, in a dangerous area that is disputed by rival drug gangs. What he found – and described in minute, gripping detail – was the scene not of a shootout, as the army had announced, but of what appeared to be an extrajudicial killing where soldiers had executed gang members after they had surrendered.
His story shredded the government’s initial cover up of the killings. Since his initial reporting, three soldiers have been charged with murder. Witnesses who were imprisoned to keep them silent have been freed.
Special Citation Ernesto Londoño, The New York Times, United States
In addition to the gold medals for lifetime achievement, the Cabot jury also searches for journalistic accomplishments in the past year that have had an extraordinary impact on the region. Such was the case with a remarkable series of editorials by The New York Times on Cuba. The editorials built a compelling factual and political case for the United States to end its 50-year-old policy of confrontation with Cuba. Published simultaneously in Spanish and English, the editorials argued forcefully that engagement would promote the transformation of Cuba into a more open and prosperous society, and that it would invigorate independent journalism.
The editorials were written by a young member of the editorial board, Ernesto Londoño. They tackled all the controversial aspects of U.S.-Cuba policy, which had languished in political stalemate for decades. Thus, the editorials seemed prescient when the Obama administration announced bold changes last December, opening the way for the normalization of relations. Whatever their impact, the series of editorials acted as a powerful force in shaping and informing public opinion in both the United States and Latin America. And that is what editorial leadership is all about.
Members of the Cabot Prize Board in 2015 are: María Teresa Ronderos, Board Chair, and Director, Open Society Institute’s Program on Independent Journalism; Abi Wright, Executive Director of Professional Prizes, Columbia Journalism School; José de Córdoba, senior special writer for The Wall Street Journal; Juan Enríquez Cabot, chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, LLC; Carlos Dada, founder of the news website El Faro; John Dinges, the Godfrey Lowell Cabot Professor of Journalism at Columbia University; June Carolyn Erlick, editor-in-chief of ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Gustavo Gorriti, journalist and founder of IDL Reporteros, a nonprofit, investigative journalism site; Carlos Lauría, Senior Americas Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists; Julia Preston, national correspondent for The New York Times; Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Six of the nine members of the Cabot Prize Board received Cabot medals.
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