By Christina Noriega
Colombian journalist Javier Dario Restrepo and Mexican journalist Marcela Turati have been announced as the 2014 winners of the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI) Acknowledgement of Journalistic Excellence award.
The two journalists were recognized by a jury of media experts for their “independence, integrity, and dedication to public service ideals of journalism” in a ceremony that took place in Medellín, Colombia at the 2nd Annual Gabriel García Márquez Awards for Journalism. Established in their respective journalistic fields, Restrepo and Turati were selected for more than a decade’s worth of groundbreaking work.
The FNPI, a nonprofit with aims to elevate journalistic standards in Latin America, created the award with the goal of identifying Latin American journalists that demonstrate a commitment to integrity and that have acted as pioneers in their respective fields.
Following the death of FNPI founder Gabriel García Márquez last spring, the jury faced an additional challenge this year, as they wanted the high quality and standards of Marquez’s lifetime works to be reflected in the recipients awarded.
Accordingly, the Acknowledgement of Excellence was awarded to a veteran reporter in Colombia, Márquez’s home country, and an investigative journalist based in Mexico, Marquez’s adopted country of residence where he passed away in April.
The jury praised the recipients’ passion for ethics in their craft and their dedication to the people, despite the challenges of reporting in high-conflict countries. The Acknowledge of Excellence is awarded to individuals who have set an example for future investigative journalists to exercise their work with high ethical standards.
Since 1957, Javier Dario Restrepo has worked as a general reporter, delved into war correspondence, and thrived as an investigative journalist. He has served as a columnist in major Colombian newspapers such as El Tiempo and El Espectador, and is an expert on the ethics of journalism, which he also writes about. As a professor at FNPI, Restrepo has conducted ethics workshops and seminars.
During his speech, Restrepo commemorated other journalists who have adhered to strict ethics as journalists in the face technological innovation, challenging the power of politicians and denouncing corruption.
“Besieged, harassed, pressured into silence by authorities who can not bear to see the power of information in the hands of others, they have taken up journalism as their mission,” Restrepo said.
Investigative journalist Marcela Turati has extensively covered human rights violations throughout Mexico, particularly those related to cartel violence. Turati contributes to Proceso magazine and in 2007 co-founded Periodistas de a Pie, a nonprofit organization that offers workshops on investigative journalism and advocates for freedom of expression in Latin America.
When speaking of the state of journalism in high-risk regions of Mexico during her speech, Turati said that journalists must be courageous in the name of victims who suffer everyday corruption and violence.
“Where journalism doesn’t work, death wins,” Turati said.
While Restrepo and Turati took home the Acknowledgement of Excellence awards, others were recognized for their contributions to the field of journalism: Eduardo Suarez from Spain won in the Text category; Manolo Sarmiento and Lisandra Rivera, from Ecuador, took awards in the Image category; the Ultima Noticias de Venezuela news team in the Coverage category, and Radio Ambulante, from Peru, Colombia, and the United States, won the Innovation category.
The three-day festival ended Thursday with the award ceremony for the Gabriel Garcia Marquez prize recipients. Winners received $15,000 and an original art piece by Colombian artist Antonio Caro.
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.