Journalists from Chile, Argentina and Mexico given category prizes from García Márquez festival

Motorcycle enthusiasts, cowboys, luxurious houses and the words of politicians and other public figures. These were the focus of journalistic projects recognized on Sept. 30 at the Festival Gabriel García Márquez in Medellín, Colombia.

The winners of the Gabriel García Márquez (GGM) Journalism Award prizes in the categories of text, image, coverage and innovation went to journalists from Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

Chilean Tomás Munita won in the image category for his photographic series “Extreme Cowboys” published in National Geographic in Spanish. The project follows a family of cowboys called “gaucho bagualeros” who corral wild cattle in a remote region of Chilean Patagonia. The award said the photo essay “has a narrative style that refers to great traditions of landscape painting.”

The prize in the text category was awarded to Argentine journalist Javier Sinay for “Fast, furious, dead,” which was published in Rolling Stone Argentina. Sinay uses the story of a teenager who was shot while attempting to rob an off-duty police officer of his motorcycle to show “a reality of the neighborhoods on the periphery, where to have two wheels is to have something in life,” as the story reads.

“The jury wishes to highlight this piece’s energetic writing and the quality of the reporting for collecting, as would a novelist, significant information about the life of a neighborhood,” the award said.

Argentine journalists won again in the innovation category with recognition of the team at Chequeado, led by Laura Zommer. Chequeado was founded as a nonpartisan and nonprofit digital media project that analyzes the statements of politicians, economists, businessmen, public figures, the media and more. It often employs the help of citizens in its work.

“The fact that today there are several versions across the continent that are inspired by Chequeado shows that this is a successful and interesting project for the media community and society in general,” the award said.

The team of Rafael Cabrera, Daniel Lizárraga, Sebastián Barragán, Irving Huerta and Carmen Aristegui took home the prize for coverage for their special investigation “The White House of Enrique Peña Nieto,” which was published in November 2014 by Mexican news site Aristegui Noticias. In the article, the team of journalists showed that "Mexican President [Enrique Peña Nieto] and his family were living in an expensive house financed by a contractor of his government," according to the award.

The article had repercussions for the president and his family. As an article on Aristegui Noticias points out, there were also serious consequences for the journalists who worked on the project. Journalists Aristegui, Lizárraga and Huerta were dismissed from the MVS radio group in March 2015 where they had worked on a special investigations team for Aristegui’s morning radio program. MVS radio attributed the dismissals to different reasons (including one reporter’s work with Méxicoleaks), but some drew links to reporting on the “White House” story and others. In July, a federal court dismissed a protection requested by Aristegui. At the conference this week, Aristegui announced she will make a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, against the Mexican state.

The award also honored Mauricio Sáenz Barrera with the Clemente Manuel Zabala Recognition, an award given to a Colombian editor “that is exemplary as a journalist, educator and citizen.”

Sáenz Barrera, editor in chief of Semana magazine, “is in essence a thorough professional and a model citizen in constant search for quality journalism. Certainly, a beacon for Colombian journalism and a teacher for young people that embark on the best job of the world,” according the award.

In July, the organization announced that Brazilian journalist and editor Dorrit Harazim won the Recognition of Excellence Award. Harazim has worked in journalism for 50 years and helped found and edit the magazines Veja and Piaui.

The awards council noted Harazim’s ability to “find angles and aspects that other journalists allowed to pass and that transport the reader using meticulous and interesting details.”

The final day of the festival is October 1. Check back with the Knight Center for more coverage of the festival’s events.

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.

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