Photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale of London, England, is the winner of the 2005 Alexia Competition for professionals, and NPPA member and photojournalism student Erika Schultz of Northern Arizona University is the student winner.
Bleasdale, a freelancer who represents himself, won the $15,000 Alexia Foundation Grant for his proposal on "the effects of oil exploration in a world where it is increasing the catalyst of conflict, exploitation, and global pollution." He's a 1990 graduate of the University of Huddersfield in England with a BA with honors in economics and finance, and in 1999 he received a postgraduate degree in photojournalism from the London College of Printing. His book, One Hundred Years of Darkness, published in 2002, was the result of four years spent covering the internal conflict and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Alexia Foundation said there were 170 entries in the professional category this year which were narrowed down to nine finalists.
Schultz, the student winner and an NPPA member since 2003, is a college senior majoring in photojournalism at Northern Arizona University. She's also the assistant photography editor of the school newspaper, the Lumberjack. The Alexia Foundation Grant for first place for the student winner is a $9,000 scholarship toward tuition, fees, and living expenses to study photojournalism in London in the fall semester through the Syracuse University Division of International Programs Abroad. First places also carries with it a $1,000 grant for completing the proposed picture story, and a $500 award to the college department that sponsors the winning student's entry. Schultz won for her proposal to "explore the diversity and culture within modern society's growing elder population" as "science and sheer stubbornness propel today's senior citizens to an advanced old age."
Judging was done February 26 at Syracuse University by Bob Gilka, former National Geographic director of photography and adjunct professor of photojournalism at Syracuse University; Mark Edelson, presentation editor for The Palm Beach Post; and Vin Alabiso, president of The Visual Journalism Alliance and former Associated Press director of global business development for photography.
The Alexia Foundation for World Peace was established by the family of Alexia Tsairis, an honors photojournalism student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University who was a victim of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight #103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. She was returning home for the Christmas holidays after spending a semester at the Syracuse University London Centre. Alexi, known as a promising photojournalism student, had interned for the Associated Press in New York City and she was deeply committed to world peace, supporting the efforts of Amnesty International and Greenpeace. The annual photography grants to professionals and students are "dedicated to helping photographers produce pictures that promote world peace and cultural understanding."
The winners' portfolios can be seen on the Alexia Foundation Web site at www.alexiafoundation.org.