2016 Cabot Prize recognizes journalists for outstanding reporting, contributions to "Inter-American understanding"

This year’s winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on the Americas have communicated the stories of the continent’s residents to millions and have worked to further the practice and quality of journalism in the region.

The 2016 awards recognized photographer Rodrigo Abd of the Associated Press, Colombian filmmaker Margarita Martínez, Salvadoran investigative reporter Óscar Martínez of El Faro and Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. A special citation was awarded to Marina Walker Guevara, deputy director of The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and the team that coordinated the Panama Papers investigation.

Click here to read more about Knight Center director Rosental Alves.

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York, which awards the prizes, announced the winners on July 20.

"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," said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. "The work of these honorees has made largely hidden events visible to the world. The Maria Moors Cabot Prize is both the oldest award in international journalism and one of the most relevant to current day challenges of democratic governance."

Argentine photojournalist Rodrigo Abd has documented some of the biggest political, environmental and cultural events in Latin America for The Associated Press for the more than a decade.

“With riveting photographs, Abd projects the immediacy of his stories to audiences across the hemisphere and beyond,” said Columbia University on the awards announcement.

Abd, who formerly worked as a staff photographer for Argentine newspapers La Razón and La Nación, was part of the group of AP photographers who won the 2013 Pultizer Prize for Breaking News Photography for work on the Syrian civil war.

Independent television and film producer Margarita Martínez, of Colombia, has covered the various conflicts gripping Colombia in the last decades, documenting the stories of those affected by paramilitaries and land conflicts, but also the social movement spawned by a unique presidential candidate. She previously worked for The Associated Press, covering the conflict in her country.

“Through her riveting documentary work, she gives vision and voice to Latin American citizens,” Columbia University said.

Journalist and author Óscar Martínez cofounded the investigative unit “Sala Negra” at pioneering digital news site El Faro in El Salvador. From here, he writes about the trials of Central American migrants, organized crime and violence in the region.

“Martínez is an intrepid reporter who takes great risks to expose remarkable stories, without sacrificing language and compelling narrative. His brave reporting and expressive talent enhance our understanding of Latin America,” the awards notice read.

In just the past week, Martínez also was recognized with the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. On July 14, he and his fellow colleagues at El Faro were announced as winners of the Excellence Award from the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award.

The work of Argentine journalist Marina Walker Guevara and the team at ICIJ that coordinated the Panama Papers investigation “prompted a much needed debate about transparency and accountability in the region and around the world,” the announcement read.

On the team with Walker Guevara were two Latin American and two Spanish journalists who oversaw nearly 100 journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Recipients of this year's awards will be honored on Oct. 18 in New York City.

Last year's recipients were Lucas Mendes of Brazilian outlet GloboNews, Raúl Peñaranda of Bolivia's Página Siete, Simon Romero of The New York Times and Mark Stevenson of The Associated Press.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.