Posted in Behind the News

Exploring ‘a landscape of mafias, violence and corruption’

, by Lauren Easton

The Overseas Press Club announced this morning that three Associated Press journalists have won its award for the best reporting on Latin America in any medium.

Eduardo Castillo, Christopher Sherman and Dario Lopez-Mills will receive the Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for their series exploring Mexico’s “Other Disappeared.” OPC’s awards dinner is set for this evening in Manhattan.

From left to right, Acting Bureau Chief for Mexico and Central America Eduardo Castillo, reporter Christopher Sherman, photo editor Dario Lopez-Mills. (AP Photo)

The OPC judges noted that the reporters, all based in Mexico City, used the case of 43 abducted students in Iguala, Mexico, “as the premise for a larger, more ambitious story about the pain and despair of a society in which 26,000 people have gone missing.”

The judges continued:

The reporters explored a landscape of mafias, violence and corruption with skill, courage and empathy. The comprehensive series painted vivid human portraits: a cartel killer discussing his trade with grim nonchalance; the ordeal of a grandmother and her family in the labyrinth of the kidnapping industry; the dogged, dignified survivors who scour the mountains searching for the clandestine graves of missing loved ones. The result was a moving tale about Mexico’s national nightmare--and a stern indictment of a state that seems alternately complicit, overwhelmed or indifferent.
Rosa Segura Giral holds up a photo of her daughter, Berenice Navarijo Segura, who is ​one of the "Other Disappeared" identified in AP's award-winning investigation. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Soon after the stories were published, Sherman outlined the breakthrough reporting on Southern California public radio station KPCC, saying: “These disappearances sow fear. These communities are terrified to come forward and even say that their loved one has disappeared and that’s, frankly, the goal of these gangs.”

Sherman also described the desperation of the families whose loved ones had disappeared on WBEZ’s “Worldview” and KSFR’s “Here & There with Dave Marash.”

The reporters behind “Seafood from Slaves,” AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the Southeast Asia seafood industry -- Martha Mendoza, Esther Htusan, Margie Mason and Robin McDowell -- won the Hal Boyle Award for best newspaper, news service or online reporting from abroad. The award is named for the AP columnist who earned a Pulitzer in 1945 for his distinguished World War II reporting.

The Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business news reporting in newspapers, news services or online also went to the “Seafood from Slaves” team.

AP photographers Jerome Delay and Santi Palacios received citations for their work, “Burundi Unrest” and “Coming Ashore,” respectively.

A full list of winners is available here.

The Overseas Press Club is livestreaming tonight’s awards dinner beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.