The World Press Photo of the Year 2004 has been awarded to Reuters photographer Arko Datta for his iconic picture of the human suffering caused by the Asian tsunami, World Press Photo announced in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, this morning.
The photograph, taken by Datta in India on December 28, 2004, shows a woman crouched on sandy ground, her mouth open in a wail and her palms turned to the sky, the arm of a tsunami victim visible in the corner of the image. The picture also won first prize in the spot news singles category. It has become one of the most widely published images of the year-end global disaster.
World Press jury member Kathy Ryan, picture editor of The New York Times Magazine, said in the judges’ comments that Datta’s photograph "is a graphic, historical, and starkly emotional picture." Jury chairman Diego Goldberg, a photographer from Argentina, said the photograph was "a true spot news picture with a strong photographer’s point of view."
Datta, an Indian national, has worked as a Reuters photographer since 2001. He has covered stories in conflict regions like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kashmir and was one of Reuters' team of Asian photographers on the ground covering the devastating effect of the tsunami.
Thomas Szlukovenyi, the global picture editor for Reuters based in London, said, "The first time you looked at Arko's picture you knew it's a winner. Beside Arko's personal achievement of winning the World Press Photo of the Year and the first place in the Spot News, it's especially gratifying to see the variety of the range of categories that Reuters has won, which really reflects the diversity and excellence of our team of photographers."
"This is a tremendous achievement and generated a great buzz among our photographers and editors. This brings the total of major awards we have won this year to twenty, a recognition of the outstanding work produced everyday by our pictures team. This is why Reuters is number one in news photography," Szlukovenyi said.
Gary Hershorn is the news editor for pictures, the Americas, for Reuters. "From the moment I saw Arko's picture I knew immediately it was something special. It conveyed all the emotion of the tragedy of the tsunami. Many people told me that they stared at that woman trying to understand the emotion she was feeling," Hershorn said today. "Arko is a gifted photographer who covered an emotionally draining story in his home country of India with the utmost of professionalism. His pictures amazed me."
Reuters photographers dominated the news categories with four other World Press Photo awards for their images. In the Spot News category, Reuters photographer Juan Medina won third place for his image of the rescue of illegal immigrants off the Canary Islands. An honorable mention in Spot News was awarded to photojournalist Daniel Aguilar of Mexico for a sinister image of a suspected Aristide assassin being held with a boot pressed against his face in a car in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Reuters photographer Paul Vreeker won second prize in the People in the News singles for his image of an Iranian with his mouth and eyes sewn together as he protested Dutch government plans to expel 26,000 failed asylum seekers. In the Nature Singles category, Reuters photographer Pierre Holtz (who is based in Senegal) was awarded second prize for his picture of a swarm of locusts in Dakar.
"This is a great recognition of our photographers’ talent and Reuters commitment to stay a leader in the picture business," Reuters editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank said today. "I'm specially proud of Datta and the whole team who covered the tsunami story."
This was the 48th annual World Press Photo contest. Datta will receive his award during ceremonies in April in Amsterdam. Photo of the Year honors carry a cash prize of 10,000 Euro and a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II camera.
Other winners in the competition include some American photojournalists. NPPA member Carol Guzy of The Washington Post won third place in People in the News Stories for her essay on pair of cojoined twins, Faith and Hope. David Swanson, of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who won second place in General News Singles for a photograph of a U.S. soldier after an ambush in Iraq.
John Moore, of the Associated Press, won third place in General News Singles for a picture of a detainee in solitary confinement at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. And in General News Stories, James Hill won first place for a series of photographs he shot for The New York Times in the days and weeks following the Beslan, Russsia, school massacre.
Kristen Ashburn of Contact Press Images won first place in People in the News for a photograph of a sniper victim in a morgue in Gaza, and Christoper Morris of VII won first place in People in the News Stories for coverage of the George W. Bush presidential re-election campaign.
In Sports Features Singles, NPPA member Renee Jones of the Minneapolis Star Tribune won third place for coverage of a community wrestling tourney. In Sports Action Stories, David Burnett of Contact Press Images won first place for his Olympic Games portfolio shot for Timemagazine, and Donald Miralle Jr. of Getty Images won second place for his Olympic Games portfolio. Al Bello of Getty Images won third place.
James Nachtwey of VII won first place in Contemporary Issues Singles for a picture shot forTime magazine of a refugee woman caring for her son in Darfur. David Guttenfelder of the Associated Press won first place in Daily Life Singles for a picture of Afghan women at a polling station, and Krisanne Johnson won second place for an image shot for U.S. News & World Report magazine of an Old German Baptist girl playing basketball in the snow outside a barn in Ohio.
NPPA member Jahi Chikwendiu of The Washington Post won first place in Nature Singles for a picture of a sandstorm moving across an open desert in Chad. In Portraits Stories, Adam Nadel of Polaris Images won first place for "Darfur Portraits" and Nina Berman of Redux Pictures won second for portraits of U.S. veterans of the Iraqi war shot for Mother Jones magazine.
The winning photographs and a complete list of awards is online at www.worldpressphoto.com.