The Associated Press investigative news team has won the top award in a competition that drew 170 entries from 27 countries. The 1999 SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award, which carries a $15,000 prize, was given to the team for its efforts to uncover the truth about Korean civilians killed by American military personnel in the Korean War, 50 years ago.
By uncovering key facts behind allegations by Koreans that American troops had killed hundreds of refugees at 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 SAIS. "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, Charles J. Hanley, Martha Mendoza and Randy Herschaft.
The AP team will be honored at SAIS on April 26 at an awards ceremony followed by a program called "The Media and Military War Crimes," featuring the AP's Charles Hanley and Seymour Hersh, who broke the story of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam era. The event, at 4 p.m. in Kenney Auditorium, is open to the public.
The first runners-up in the international news competition are Nate Thayer and Nic Dunlop of Far Eastern Economic Review for "Inside Story of the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine." The journalists tracked down the chief executioner of the Khmer Rouge regime, and their reports on his confession have enhanced the global pressure on the Cambodian government to bring remaining members of the Khmer Rouge regime to trial. United Nations 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. She will receive a SAIS Novartis crystal award for her eyewitness video reports titled "East Timor--The Struggle for Independence." Ressa's reports included a special on the conflicts in East Timor; live reports on the shooting outside the U.N. 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. Other finalists are:
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.
Mrnka Martin and Marek Vetek of Czech Television and Fakta Magazin for "A Dark Story on Fuel Oil," an investigative report on the multimillion-dollar loss of revenue to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary that they discovered was the result of a Russian crime boss's successful scheme to siphon off profits from fuel oil sales.
P. Sainath of The Hindu, India's English-language national newspaper, for his series on the Dalits, India's "untouchable" caste.
Martin Schoofs of The Village Voice for "AIDS: The Agony of Africa," an eight-part series on how Africa is reeling from "an epidemic of biblical proportions."
Rika Tjahyani S. of the Indonesian magazine Femina for "The Virus Is in My Body," a report on the ravages of AIDS in Indonesia.
Giselle Portenier and Olenka Frankiel of BBC-TV for "Murder in Purdah," an account of the plight of Pakistani women who risk death by defying tradition to marry men of their own choice.
Richard Preston of The New Yorker for "The Demon in the Freezer," a report on how smallpox, a disease officially eradicated 20 years ago, has become the biggest bioterrorist threat facing the 21st century.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel comprised of journalists from France, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and the United States; 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 that operates in more than 140 countries.