Non-traditional media from Latin America and Spain win big at Gabriel García Márquez Festival

Digital sites from Latin America and Spain were recognized as the winners of the four main prizes handed out by the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award on Sept. 29 during the festival of the same name in Medellín, Colombia.

The GGM Award aims “to recognize and encourage the pursuit of excellence, innovation and ethical coherence by journalists and media outlets working in Spanish and Portuguese,” according to the prize website.

The Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI for its acronym in Spanish) created the first awards and festival of the same name in 2013. The festival joins journalists, executives and researchers from the region to discuss major issues in journalism and to honor the legacy of Colombian writer and journalist Gabriel García Márquez.

Explore the gallery above and click on individual photos to see the winners of the 2016 Premio Gabo.

Brazilian journalist Natalia Viana, co-director of digital investigative site Agência Pública, won the festival’s award in the text category for her investigation on high rates of suicides in a town with the largest indigenous population in Brazil. As noted by the prize, “San Gabriel and its demons,” uses long-form narration supplemented with multimedia materials to tell the story of this region in the northwestern Amazon.

Caio Cavechini, Carlos Juliano Barros, Ana Aranha, Caue Angeli, Marcelo Min and Leonardo Sakamoto of digital news site Reporter Brasil, which focuses on workers’ rights and the environment, took the award in the image category. Their documentary, “Jaci: Seven Sins of an Amazonian Work,” covers the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Amazon over four years, following thousands of workers and residents of the region.

Colombian journalist Juanita León, who is founder and director of digital news site La Silla Vacia, won for coverage with her 9-part series on negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. According to the prize, León explains the logic behind both sides of the negotiations as well as “how different sectors – from the military to the Church – begin preparing to face the past in the armed conflict before the Truth Commission and the Court of Peace.”

Eva Belmonte, Miguel Ángel Gavilanes, David Cabo, Raúl Díaz Poblete and Antonio Villarreal of Spain of Fundación Civio, a Spanish non-profit focusing on open data and transparency, won for innovation. To produce their global study, “Medicamentalia,” the team spent four months investigating disparities in the availability of essential drugs in 61 countries around the world, placing special focus on burdens paid by consumers in developing countries, as explained by the prize.

The above journalistic works were chosen from a pool of 1,608 submissions and went through three rounds of judging.

Forty projects were chosen as the official selection. That number was later whittled down to 12 for the group of finalists.

In addition to the four awards for text, image, coverage and innovation, two awards for recognition were also handed out.

 Bogota(Colombia) 13/12/2013. - Jorge Cardona, editor general de El Espectador. (Foto: Oscar Perez)

Colombian editor Jorge Cardona Alzate of newspaper El Espectador was given the Clemente Manuel Zabala award, which honors exemplary Colombian editors.

Cardona accepted the award just three days after the Colombian government and the FARC signed an historic peace deal that could bring the end to a 50-year internal war in the country. On Oct. 2, the country will vote in a referendum on whether to accept the deal.

In his acceptance speech, Cardona recalled the violence of those years and the friends and colleagues who were sometimes the targets. He emphasized that future generations must understand what happened during these times.

“So now that peace is signed, among many key tasks will be to build narrative references or well-edited information concerning these expectant hours,” he said. “To the generations that look or discover them in classrooms, we owe a greater responsibility: to ensure that the grandchildren of today do not have to tell their children stories of horror.”

The team from Salvadoran digital news site El Faro, the oldest of its kind in Latin America, received the prize’s Excellence Award.

Their work, as noted by the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation and accepted as true by the team themselves, has been to cause discomfort: for the powerful, the corrupt, criminals and sometimes their own readers, they explained. To tell the truth.

In their acceptance speech on Sept. 29, the journalists said they shared the prize “with all those who in these 18 years contributed to the construction of El Faro.”

“We have built El Faro by constant self-criticism,” they said. “Because this work is not possible to do alone. Not as we understand it. El Faro is not a digital newspaper, it is a collective journalistic project that is nourished by its members and that feeds us who are part of it. The argument and the journalistic debate in the newsroom make us grow and protect us from comfort and the rest of temptations.”

This year, the GGM Festival took place in various locations across Medellín from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. Additional coverage of the festival can be found on its site.

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.