Former APF Fellow Donna De Cesare (APF’ 97) Wins Maria Moors Cabot Prize

Columbia Journalism School Announces Winners of the 75th Annual Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for Outstanding Reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean


Special 75th Anniversary Events to include high-level conference on Latin American press freedom


NEW YORK, September 5, 2013— The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism today announced the 2013 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. The oldest international award in journalism will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with a special series of events. The Cabot Prize honors journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding.

The 2013 gold medalists are Jon Lee Anderson, USA, The New Yorker; Donna De Cesare, USA; Documentary Photographer and Freelance Writer; Mauri König, Brazil, Special Reporter, Gazeta do Povo, Curitiba; Alejandro Santos Rubino, Colombia, Editor-in-Chief, Revista Semana. In a special ceremony, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez will be present to accept the citation originally awarded to her in 2009. The Cuban government had barred her from traveling to New York in 2009, but is expected to permit her to travel this year.

“We at the Journalism School regard the Cabot Prizes as a unique opportunity to inspire journalists in the Americas by recognizing the most talented, innovative and courageous among them,” said Steve Coll, Dean of Columbia Journalism School. “I don’t think we could have picked a better group of winners this year. They make us proud, especially as we mark the 75th anniversary.”

“Columbia is rightly renowned for not only teaching great journalists, but also for honoring great journalism that’s essential to informing citizens and improving our society,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar. “The Cabot Prize has long held a special place in our mission because it recognizes courageous reporting about Latin America – often in countries where freedom of the press is far from a given and exercised at great personal risk. So even as we celebrate journalistic excellence, the Cabot Prize advances the freedom of thought and robust civil society that are at the core of our University’s values.”

Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger will present medals and $5,000 honoraria to each winner and plaques to their employers at a celebratory ceremony on Monday, October, 21, at Low Library on the university’s Morningside Heights campus.

In addition to the celebration, the 75th anniversary will be marked by a two-day conference titled, Press Freedom, Press Standards and Democracy in Latin America. The conference is sponsored in association with the Cabot Family Trust, the World Bank and National Public Radio and will take place Monday, October 21 and Tuesday, October 22 at Columbia University.

Excerpts from the 2013 award citations follow. To learn more about the prizes, visit

2013 Cabot Medalists:

Jon Lee Anderson, USA, The New Yorker

Jon Lee Anderson has been carrying out a journalistic love affair with the Americas for three decades. A wonderful journalist, he has been sent to cover other parts of the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan. But he has always come back to the Americas.

Anderson’s work has ranged far and wide over the years. Just a few examples—covering the 2010 Haitian earthquake and its aftermath; creating penetrating profiles of a Brazilian drug lord and Hugo Chavez and his effect on Venezuela; breaking new ground in a biography of Argentine guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara.

Anderson’s huge body of work is contained in his many long form pieces for The New Yorker and in six books he has written. He has helped train a generation of journalists covering the Americas with frequent teaching appearances at the Fundación de Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano founded by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Donna De Cesare, USA, Documentary Photographer and Freelance Writer

A photojournalist who has worked in the Americas for more than three decades, Donna De Cesare is a voice for the voiceless, her images seamlessly weaving the stories of today’s violence in Central America and beyond with the region’s history.

Her work appears in traditional publications and on the web in her compelling bilingual website Destiny’s Children, where she bears witness to everyday violence and social inequality both south and north of the border.

Her book published this year, “Unsettled/Desasosiego,” was described by The New York Times as “a look back on lives that were lost, and some who triumphed, during her many years in the region.”

De Cesare, a professor in the School of Journalism, College of Communication, at the University of Texas, Austin, plays a significant role in developing tools for journalists at the Dart Center on Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School.

Mauri König, Brazil, Special Reporter, Gazeta do Povo

For more than two decades, Brazilian investigative reporter Mauri König has braved threats and beatings to expose human rights abuses, sex trafficking and corruption.

Among König’s most explosive investigative projects was a multi-year series for Gazeta do Povo of Curitiba, where he has worked since 2002. König’s 2006-2007 series uncovered sex trafficking of children and adolescents all along the Brazilian border and led to the arrest of a key trafficker.

In 2002, König documented the recruitment and kidnapping of Brazilian children for military service in Paraguay. While researching the story, he was brutally beaten with chains and strangled and “left for dead” after photographing a police station.

Last May 2012, he received serious death threats after an investigative series on police corruption in the state of Paraná. After a follow-up story last December, he was warned of a plot to kill him and shoot up his house. König went into hiding with his family and returned to Brazil several weeks later.

Alejandro Santos Rubino, Colombia, Editor-in-Chief, Revista Semana

Alejandro Santos Rubino comes from Colombia’s preeminent journalism family—for generations it owned El Tiempo, the major newspaper in Colombia. But Rubino wanted to prove himself and forge his own career. And that he has done with great distinction. After six years at El Tiempo, Rubino became a columnist at Semana, Colombia’s main newsmagazine. Before he turned 30, he had become Semana’s editor in chief. He has used this post to improve Colombian journalism civil society and interamerican understanding.

Rubino has used Semana and a series of prizes and projects he created to expose government wrongdoing, to recognize Colombia’s best journalists and public officials and to encourage investigations of the murders of journalists. Under his courageous hands-on editing, the magazine exposed past President Alvaro Uribe’s illegal spying on journalists, judges and politicians–and revealed links between politicians and paramilitary leaders.

About the Maria Moors Cabot Prize

This year, 2013, marks the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the oldest international award in journalism. The Cabot Prize honors journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding. The prizes are administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Founded in 1938 by the late Godfrey Lowell Cabot of Boston as a memorial to his wife, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes have been presented to 265 recipients with an additional 54 special citations awarded to journalists from more than 30 countries in the Americas. Recent awardees have included Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru; Alma Guillermoprieto of Mexico; Carlos Fernando Chamorro of Nicaragua and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.

The Cabot Prize is awarded to winners at a prize ceremony at Columbia University. This year, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary, the event will welcome back past awardees and Cabot Prizes board members.

Recommendations for the award are made with the advice and approval of the Cabot Prize Board and Columbia University Trustees. Members of the committee in 2013 are: Arlene Morgan, associate dean for Prizes and Programs and chair; Josh Friedman, director of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes; David C. Adams, Southeast United States and Caribbean Bureau Chief for Thomson Reuters; José de Córdoba, senior special writer for The Wall Street Journal; Juan Enriquez Cabot, chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, LLC; Carlos Dada, founder and director of the news website El Faro, June Carolyn Erlick, editor-in-chief of ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Carlos Lauria, Senior Americas Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists; Michèle Montas, former Spokesperson for the Secretary General of the United Nations; María Teresa Ronderos, Director,; Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Seven of the nine members of the Cabot Prize Board are themselves Cabot medalists.

For more information on the Cabot Awards, including a list of previous winners, please go to

About the Graduate School of Journalism

For over a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has prepared journalists with instruction and training that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry, and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the School opened in 1912 and offers master of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees. Learn more at:

About Columbia University

A leading academic and research university, Columbia continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations and community partnerships enrich campus life. They help define the University’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

Dominic Phillips

Dom Phillips 1964-2022

It is with great sadness that the Foundation acknowledges the death of Dom Phillips, who was researching solutions to protect the Amazon under his Alicia Patterson fellowship.