The winners of the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prize for international journalism are being honored in New York. The Cabot Prize is presented to reporters and editors in recognition of outstanding coverage of the Western Hemisphere, in particular Latin America and the Caribbean.
Anne Nelson, who administers the prize for the Columbia University School of Journalism, home of the Pulitzer Prize, says the Cabot Prize does more than acknowledge individual journalistic achievement.
"It is this chance to keep Latin America and relationships between the Americas front and center for a new generation of journalists, and say, 'Wait a minute, just because we are not at war with these countries does not mean we should go to sleep and forget about them.'" she said.
One of this year's recipients is Michele Montas-Dominique, news director of Radio Haiti. She says the Cabot Prize is not just an honor, it is a "shield" that can protect journalists from violent attacks led by groups or states that are hostile to the press.
"My husband, who was also a journalist, was assassinated two years ago on April 3, 2000, while he was entering the radio station where we co-anchored the news program," she said. "From what was gathered in terms of information, there was a contract for two. I was supposed to be killed that day. So, I have had a bodyguard ever since, going around with protection all the time. But I think the best protection is that the spotlight be put on the conditions in which we work in Haiti, as journalists. A prize like this puts the spotlight on that."
Ms. Montas-Dominique is honored this year along with three other journalists; David Adams, Latin American correspondent for the Florida newspaper The St. Petersburg Times; Sergio Luis Carreras of the Argentinian daily La Voz del Interior; and Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express News in Texas.
Mr. Rivard, who lost many friends and colleagues as a correspondent living in Central and South America, says the Cabot Prize has special resonance for journalists who have, in many cases, risked their lives covering the region.
"The prize may be somewhat obscure outside of our business. It does not have the cache among non-journalists as the Pulitzers. But for someone who has been passionate about Latin-America, and all of these winners have been all their lives, it is the top of the mountain," he said.
The Cabot Prize is the longest existing international prize in journalism. It was founded in 1938 and first awarded in 1939 by the late Godfrey Lowell Cabot of Boston as a memorial to his wife.