SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Prize for
Investigation of Korean War Killing of Civilians
by U.S. Troops
The Associated Press investigative news team has won the top award in a field of 170 entries submitted by journalists from 27 countries. The 1999 SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award and $15,000 prize is given for its efforts to uncover the truth about Korean civilians killed by American military personnel 50 years ago in the Korean War.
By uncovering key facts behind allegations by Koreans that American troops had killed hundreds of refugees at a place called No Gun Ri--and elsewhere--in the early days of the Korean War, the journalists have made a significant contribution to a long-hidden chapter of 20th Century history.
"Their work has had major impact. The U.S. Secretary of Defense has ordered the U.S. Army to investigate No Gun Ri and the South Korean government has also launched a high-level investigation," said Paul Wolfowitz, Dean of The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. "The AP reports have also added new fuel to the debate over the nature of modern warfare and war crimes."
The team of Associate Press journalists includes:
Sang-Hun Choe: a 36-year-old veteran of the South Korean Army who has been a reporter in the AP bureau in Seoul for six years;
Charles J. Hanley: a 52-year-old Vietnam veteran who has reported from more than 70 countries for AP's International Desk during the past 20 years;
Martha Mendoza: a 33-year-old journalist who joined AP in 1995, worked as national writer with AP Special Assignment Team in 1997-98 and is currently AP's San Jose, CA. correspondent; and
Randy Herschaft: 39, an AP investigative researcher who joined AP in 1985 and has made major contributions to other AP investigative projects and is an expert in public records and electronic news research.
The AP journalists and researcher will be honored on April 26th at a 4:00 p.m. awards ceremony to be followed by a public program on "The Media and Military War Crimes," featuring the AP's Charles Hanley and Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter who broke the story of My Lai massacre during the Vietnam era. The public is invited to attend these events in SAIS' Kenney Auditorium at 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington D.C.
The first runner-ups in the international news competition are Nate Thayer and Nic Dunlop of Far Eastern Economic Review for their outstanding work, "Inside Story of the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine." These journalists tracked down the chief executioner of the Khmer Rouge regime and discovered him living a new life as a "born-again Christian" aid worker in Cambodia. Their reports on his detailed confession have greatly enhanced the global pressure on the Cambodian government to bring remaining members of the Khmer Rouge regime to trial. UN officials are currently negotiating with the Cambodian government on the terms of court proceedings to assure international standards of justice are applied.
Maria A. Ressa, Jakarta Bureau Chief for CNN International, placed third in the competition. She will receive a SAIS Novartis crystal award for her riveting eyewitness video reports on "East Timor--The Struggle for Independence." Ressa created a series of reports including: a live special on the history and conflicts in East Timor; live reports on the shooting outside the UN building in Dili; the first reports from refugee camps; and reports from Dili after journalists returned to the burned capital after the violence that followed elections for independence.
The top ten finalists also include:
Tim Johnson of The Miami Herald for his series of reports on "Colombia's Civil War" and the increased U.S. involvement in the 40-year-old conflict. Johnson documented conditions that threaten to grow into a regional conflict like the Central American crisis of the 1980s in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Mrnka Martin and Marek Vetek of Czech Television and Fakta Magazine for "A Dark Story on Fuel Oil," an unusually graphic investigative report on the multi-million dollar loss of revenue to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. This they discovered was the result of a Russian crime boss's successful scheme to siphon off profits from fuel oil sales. This tale of corruption and murder is the first example of collaborative investigative reporting by reporters in former Soviet satellite countries.
P. Sainath of The Hindu, India's English-language national newspaper for his remarkable series on the "Dalits," India's "untouchable" caste that sensitively documents their plight and the ways in which Dalits are trying to escape their caste tags, to seek justice and to achieve recognition of their inherent human dignity.
Martin Schoofs of The Village Voice for "AIDS: The Agony of Africa," an outstanding eight-part series of reports on how Africa is reeling from "an epidemic of Biblical proportions." This lone journalist spent an exhaustive six-months investigating all aspects of this crisis. His in-depth series provides both an overview of the African crisis and a personal glimpse at the very human toll taken by the dreaded disease.
Rika Tjahyani S. of the Indonesian magazine Femina for "The Virus Is In My Body," a courageous report on the ravages of AIDS in Indonesia that provides critical medical and social services information with sensitivity and candor to women in this Islamic country. The writer's effort sets a higher standard for journalism in this region of the world.
Giselle Portenier and Olenka Frankiel of BBC-TV for "Murder in Purdah," a gripping account of the plight of Pakistani women who risk death by defying tradition to marry men of their own choice. This disturbing production calls worldwide attention to an age-old practice of killing women in the name of honor and in the name of Islam in some Moslem countries.
Richard Preston for the New Yorker Magazine for "The Demon in the Freezer," the chilling report on how smallpox, a disease officially eradicated 20 years ago, has become the biggest bio-terrorist threat we face at the dawn of the 21st century.
The ten finalists were selected by a distinguished panel of journalists from France, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States, plus the SAIS Journalist-in-Residence, Don Oberdorfer, and SAIS Dean, Paul Wolfowitz. Funding for the SAIS-Novartis International Award Program is provided by a grant from Novartis, a Swiss-based corporation, which operates in more than 140 countries. A world leader in health care with core businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal health, Novartis plans to spin off its crop protection and seeds businesses in the second half of this year.
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