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Cabot Prize, oldest international journalism award, honors 5 for Latin America coverage

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NEW YORK — Journalists from The Associated Press, The New York Times, GloboNews in Brazil and Bolivia's Pagina Siete won this year's Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which recognizes excellence in coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism on Wednesday announced this year's winners of the award, the oldest prize in international journalism.

The winners are Mark Stevenson of the AP; Simon Romero of The Times; Lucas Mendes of GloboNews, a 24-hour news channel; and Raul Penaranda of Pagina Siete. A special citation was awarded to Ernesto Londono, also of The Times.

Stevenson, who has been reporting from Mexico for more than 20 years, was cited for his story of a mass killing of gang members by soldiers. Stevenson discovered that the case didn't have to do with a shootout, as the government had announced, but that it appeared the soldiers killed gang members who had already surrendered.

"His story shredded the government's initial cover-up of the killings," the university said.

Columbia said Stevenson "has ventured into some of the most remote and dangerous corners of the country, stepping surefootedly in areas where others fear to tread."

PHOTO: In this May 27, 2015 photo, Associated Press correspondent Mark Stevenson poses for a photo in Mexico City. Stevenson is among the five journalists honored with the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest prize in international journalism. Stevenson will be honored by the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for his work covering Latin America and the Caribbean. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this May 27, 2015 photo, Associated Press correspondent Mark Stevenson poses for a photo in Mexico City. Stevenson is among the five journalists honored with the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest prize in international journalism. Stevenson will be honored by the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for his work covering Latin America and the Caribbean. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Stevenson, who has been with the AP for 18 years, said the prize was a great honor because of the quality of previous winners and because it focuses on coverage of Latin America, a region that has always fascinated him.

"I think the coverage of Latin America is key for the U.S. audience and will be even more vital in the coming years as our countries become more intertwined," he said.

Romero "has written with fairness and thoroughness in highly polarized situations, providing nuance and context," Columbia said in honoring a career that has spanned more than two decades in Latin America, covering stories in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.

Mendes has helmed a weekly program called "Manhattan Connection" for 25 years, covering issues of corruption and other contemporary subjects. Columbia said Mendes has "inspired generations of young Brazilians to embrace journalism."

Penaranda is the creator of multiple media outlets in Bolivia and writes columns for the Sunday edition of Pagina Siete, which he founded. Columbia praised him for "his strong stance against abuse of power and media concentration" under the government of President Evo Morales.

The citation to Londono was for a series of editorials he wrote as a member of the Times' editorial board. The editorials called for the United States to normalize its relationship with Cuba, and "acted as a powerful force in shaping and informing public opinion in both the United States and Latin America," Columbia said.

The Cabot Prize was founded in 1938. The awards will be presented Oct. 14 at Columbia University, and each winner gets a $5,000 honorarium.

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