Journalists from Brazil, El Salvador, Argentina and U.S. recognized with Cabot Prizes from Columbia University

*This story has been updated.

Cabot prizes medal

The Cabot Prize Gold Medals will be awarded on Oct. 8 at Columbia University. (Photo: Courtesy Columbia University)

A Brazilian documentary photographer, a journalist with a history covering gangs in El Salvador and two foreign correspondents from the U.S. are the winners of the 2024 Maria Moors Cabot Prize Gold Medals.

Lalo de Almeida of Brazil, Carlos Ernesto Martínez, of Salvadoran investigative site El Faro, John Otis of NPR and the Committee to Protect Journalists in the U.S. and Frances Robles of The New York Times are this year’s recipients for “career excellence and coverage of the Western Hemisphere that furthers inter-American understanding.”

Special citations went to think tank and investigative news organization InSight Crime and Laura Zommer of Argentina, a pioneer in fact checking using technology and digital journalism tools.

Founded in 1938, the Cabot Prizes are the oldest international journalism awards and are given by Columbia University in New York City.

Recipients will receive a gold medal and a $5,000 honorarium during an awards ceremony on Oct. 8.

“This is a truly consequential time for journalism and civil society in the Americas, with rising authoritarianism, increasingly sophisticated disinformation and the rampant growth of criminal organizations,” said Rosental Alves, Cabot Board chair and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, which publishes LatAm Journalism Review (LJR). “All of these 2024 Cabot honorees inspire us with their important work on these issues and more across platforms.”

Lalo de Almeida has been a documentary photographer for major Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo for 30 years. He has covered the Amazon, the climate crisis, migration and more.

“His images show us not only a world that is worth saving, but also reflect the empathy and profound respect with which he treats the stories and the people he turns his gaze upon,” a statement from the Cabot Board reads.

Investigative reporter Carlos Ernesto Martínez, “one of the leading reporters in the Western Hemisphere,” as described by the Board, covers migration, torture, human rights violations, organized crime and prison systems in Central America for El Faro.

“Today, his coverage of the expansion of gang activity is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand how criminal networks are devastating Central America, and how their influence is spreading across Mexico and the United States,” the Board wrote.

Veteran correspondent John Otis has dedicated “his life to explaining Latin America to his fellow Americans,” as the Board said. He has been based in Central America, the Caribbean and South America, and worked for outlets like UPI, the Houston Chronicle, TIME, Americas Quarterly and more. He has also worked for CPJ for 13 years, “champion[ing] the rights of fellow reporters in the region.”

Frances Robles, reporter for The New York Times and previously The Miami Herald, is “an authoritative voice in the Americas,” the Board said. She has covered natural disasters, guerrilla wars, corruption, migration, democracy, inequality and more.

“Of special note, Robles has focused her light on an issue that the Board believes to be among the region’s most pressing today: the growth of political authoritarianism that threatens democracy everywhere.”

For more than two decades, special citation winner InSight Crime has produced ground investigative reporting, data analysis, and research about criminal dynamics in the Americas. According to the Board, it’s a resource for journalists, academics, civil society leaders, government officials, and policymakers.

Argentine journalist Laura Zommer was director and editor-in-chief of transparency and fact checking organization Chequeado, which has “revolutionized journalism, first in Argentina and then throughout Latin America,” the Board said. She is also co-founder of Factchequeado, a transparency organization for Spanish-speaking Latinos in the U.S., as well as founder of LatAm Chequea, the first Latin American fact checking network.

*This story has been updated to clarify that Zommer was director and editor-in-chief at Chequeado.

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