News Archive

2003 PEQCC Results

By Alex Burrows, PEQCC Chairperson

Congratulations to The Hartford Courant Photo editing team for top honors in the 2003 picture editing competition. They will receive the first place Gold Award for Outstanding Published Work.

This national contest is a year-long competition and involves judging at the end of each quarter. More than 20 judges from different newspapers, magazines and universities participate. Winners are chosen by giving a point value to newspaper pages in top entries in the five categories of news, sports, feature, picture page and multi-page.

Here are the 2003 final results:

  1. The Hartford Courant (Gold) - 710 points
  2. The Palm Beach Post (Silver) - 470 points
  3. The San Jose Mercury News (Bronze) - 290 points


Awards of Excellence

  1. South Florida Sun-Sentinel - 170 points
  2. The St. Petersburg Times - 160 points
  3. The Virginian-Pilot - 160 points
  4. The San Francisco Chronicle - 150 points
  5. The Detroit Free Press - 140 points
  6. The Rocky Mountain News - 110 points
  7. The Daily Press - 60 points
  8. The Kansas City - 60 points
  9. The Spokesman - 60 points


Congratulations to all the teams in the top twelve and thanks to all who participated.


Sun-Sentinel Photographer Wounded, Spanish Journalist Killed, In Haiti Violence

A Spanish journalist based in New York was killed and an American photojournalist was wounded Sunday, March 7 2004, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when gunmen opened fire on a large demonstration of protesters calling for the prosecution of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As many as five people died and more than twenty-six people were wounded in the attack near Haiti's National Palace.

[Wounded: South Florida Sun-Sentinel photojournalist Michael Laughlin after he was shot once in the face by a bullet that grazed him, and once in the shoulder when gunmen fired on journalists. Photograph by Daniel Morel/Reuters]

Killed was José Ricardo Ortega, 37, a New York-based correspondent for the Spanish television station Antena 3. Witnesses were quoted as saying he was shot in the chest. Wounded in the face and right shoulder was Michael Laughlin, 37, a staff photographer for the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"Michael is at this moment being airlifted from the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he is being flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for more surgery," Sun-Sentinel director of photography Tim Rasmussen said Monday morning by telephone. "We've been up all night arranging this. The Navy doctors couldn't get the bullet fragments out of his right shoulder blade. They were able to take care of his face wound, but not the second bullet." Rasmussen said Laughlin was initially taken by military medivac to the Navy base in Cuba for treatment and surgery on Sunday night, and that he was in stable condition. "There were two different bullets," Rasmussen said. "One grazed his face, the other went through his neck and into his shoulder. They were able to take care of the one that hit his face."

Laughlin's wife, Kathy, is a senior copy editor in the Sun-Sentinel's sports department. Rasmussen said that she was "doing fine" this morning, and that she had been working with them through the night to arrange for her husband's transfer from the Navy base in Cuba to Miami. Laughlin has been an NPPA member since 1990.

Sun-Sentinel correspondent Jane Regan filed an audio report to the newspaper's Web site in which she gave details about Laughlin's shooting. "He was caught in between Haitian police and the people doing the shooting." She reported. "When the shooting started some journalists took refuge inside the courtyard of a house. Then the people with guns, the guys with guns were up on the roof, and they started wildly spraying gunfire down into the courtyard." Regan said that's also when Ortega was shot in the chest.

Regan said that before Laughlin was taken away in an ambulance, he told her that "I always wanted to be in my own newspaper, but not like this." He was smiling when he said this, she reported, and said to her "I'm in a good mood right now because they just gave me some medication."

[Shooting: Photojournalist Michael Laughlin of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel stands behind Haitian SWAT police just as he was hit by a bullet fired by unknown gunmen in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday, March 7, during a protest march. Photograph by Daniel Morel/Reuters]













Witnesses to the shooting told reporters that the initial gunshots came from different directions, from both nearby rooftops and possibly from an SUV passing nearby. U.S. Marines guarding the protest march returned fire, journalists on the scene said. Up until the shooting, the march of more than 10,000 Aristide opponents had been peaceful and had traveled from Petionville to the Champ de Mars plaza at the National Palace. American and French troops had escorted the marchers but had pulled off the crowd as it approached the plaza, according to the Sun-Sentinel's story.

The newspaper reports that a protester fell when the first shot was fired, and that police returned fire, which caught some marchers and bystanders in the crossfire. Some early reports wrongly said that Laughlin was still near the Haitian police when he was struck first by bullets. Later it was clarified that Laughlin had moved away from the police and was with other journalists who were taking cover from the gunfire when he was shot.

Miami Herald photojournalist Peter Bosch is seen in photographs helping carry people to safety during the shooting. Bosch was quoted in the Sun-Sentinel's story as also having seen Ortega when he was shot in the chest. Bosch is quoted as saying, "I heard three different kinds of weapons at the same time, and that's when Jose [Ortega] took it in the chest. He was knocked back about three feet." Ortega was taken by ambulance to a hospital, and he died shortly after arriving there.

Ortega transferred to the New York bureau about three years ago, according to reports, after starting out in Moscow. He had also covered the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the conflict in Chechnya. Reports say he had recently taken a leave of absence but had volunteered to go to Haiti for the network when the uprising began several weeks ago.


NPPA Student Clip Contest 1st Quarter Results

The NPPA student clip contest, which was not held last year, has found a new home and a new life.

NPPA student members can now send their best clips to Dr. Jack Zibluk, coordinator of Arkansas State University's photojournalism program. Zibluk and his photojournalism students began compiling and sorting the first quarter entrants this January. The student clip contest follows the school year, so the first quarter clips were due in December for the quarter that began in August. The photo staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette judged them. The second quarter clips are due March 7. "I was particularly impressed with the breadth of entries," Zibluk said. "They didn't just come from the elite programs." Zibluk said the wide array of entrants shows a great deal of strength, interest and diversity in photojournalism education, something he hopes to encourage in the contest.

"Just because you're not in one of the nationally recognized schools doesn't mean you can't be the best student photojournalist in the country," Zibluk said. He noted that the top winner in the first quarter, Haraz Ghanbari, a senior from Kent State, is soon to graduate from a smaller photojournalism program. Other strong entrants came from Towson State and the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

While students are encouraged to send in clips of published pictures, Zibluk noted that unpublished works are acceptable for this contest. "We want your best works, and we want the best students anywhere to get noticed. That's the whole point here," Zibluk said.

Student NPPA members can be judged in four categories: news, features, sports and photo essay or photo stories.

Zibluk encourages students to contact him with any questions about the contest, journalism careers or other issues. "I have been in touch with many of our entrants already. This is a great way to do some networking, discuss the job market, technical issues and other information," Zibluk said. For further information, contact Zibluk at [email protected]

Send clips to:

NPPA Student clip contest
Arkansas State University
Department of Journalism and Printing
PO Box 1930
State University, AR 72467.

Here are the standings for the first quarter:

  1. Haraz Ghanbari -- Kent State
  2. Haraz Ghanbari -- Kent State
  3. Haraz Ghanbari -- Kent State
  1. Jon Woods -- Western Kentucky
  2. Adam Amato -- University of Oregon
  3. Haraz Ghanbari -- Kent State
  1. Haraz Ghanbari -- Kent State
  2. Lis Johnson -- Towson University
  3. Michael Sperling -- RIT
Photo Essay
  1. Ashley Smuts -- Brooks Institute
  2. Michael Sperling -- RIT
  3. Rachel Clow -- RIT

UK's Felicia Webb Wins 2004 NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical

Felicia Webb, a United Kingdom freelancer associated with the Independent Photographers Group agency (IPG), is the winner of the 2004 NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical for her ongoing project "Fat Times in the USA." Bill Luster, administrator of the sabbatical for NPPA and Nikon, made the winner's announcement following the annual weekend judging in Washington, DC.(photo from Felicia Webb's winning Nikon Documentary Sabbatical proposal, American Weight. Jonathan Rojo, 14, 260 lbs, Galveston Beach, Houston, TX)

Webb is the first non-American to win the sabbatical, which is on the theme "The Changing Face Of America." In announcing Webb as the winner, Luster said, "her very focused proposal takes a hard look at obesity, an issue that is under intense study in the nation now by the medical community."

"The sabbatical, unlike most other photojournalism competitions, relies more on a well-thought-out proposal than a series of photographs. The proposal counts for about 80 percent of the judging, and the photographs let the judges know what stage the photographer is at in their career," Luster said. Judging was done at the National Geographic offices by photojournalists Sarah Leen and Chris Usher and National Geographic illustrations editor Kurt Mutchler.

The Sabbatical comes with a $15,000 stipend so that working photographers can afford to take time to work on their essay. Last year's winner was Jon Lowenstein, a former POY Magazine Photographer of the Year, for his essay "From Guerrero to Gringolandia and Back: Day Labor, Family, and the New Global Economy."

"I am so excited and very honored to win this award. I usually work on self-assigned projects (labors of love!) without any advance magazine backing so there is always an element of risk," Webb told News Photographer from London after learning she'd been selected. "Winning this award and not having the usual financial pressures or worries will make such a huge difference to me in continuing with this project." Webb has spent several years shooting essays on anorexia and bulimia.

"I really believe that obesity will become an increasingly significant issue -- globally -- in the next 20 years and am so pleased and grateful that the judges recognized its importance," Webb said. "In my work I really want to show how obesity needs to be treated as a medical rather than an aesthetic issue. Unbelievably, it will soon be the number one killer in the United States. It kills more people in the States every year than drugs, car accidents, shootings and AIDS combined! And the rest of the world is following in the footsteps of America, so we had all better wake up to this problem fast."

(picture of Felica Webb)

Luster said the judges discarded some entries immediately because of inadequate research, vague direction, or portfolio photographs that were poorly executed or edited. Spelling, grammatical errors in the presentation, and not fitting the theme eliminated more entries. The judges brought the selection down to twelve, and then after a break brought the group down to four. "The four finals included Matt Black, runner-up last year, Darcy Padilla, Felicia Webb, and Steve Liss, veteran TIME magazine freelancer," Luster said. "The judges decided to name Black and Padilla's entries finalists, with the winner coming from the Liss or Webb proposal."

Judges then took photographs from both entries and put them on a wall to compare. "The judges thought both projects lacked some aspect and they went back and forth, similar to last year when judges worked for two hours deciding between eventual-winner Lowenstein and Matt Black's portfolios," Luster said. Finally a vote was taken, but not until after judges made strong arguments in favor of each entry.

"They're both very good," Leen said, "but we feel that 'Fat Times in the USA' is more topical and better researched and planned." (Editor's note: Luster said the Liss entry is not described out of respect for the photographer and his research and because it can be entered again next year.) Usher and Mutchler agreed with Leen, and Webb's proposal was picked as this year's sabbatical winner.


Military POY Contest Entry Deadline Is February 11, 2004

The deadline is February 11, 2004 to enter the Military Photographer of the Year contest, the Military Videographer of the Year contest, and the Military Graphic Artist of the Year contest. The three categories are part of the Military Visual Information Awards Program for images produced between October 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003.

The contest is organized by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and is administered by the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, MD. The contest is open to active duty, reserve, or National Guard enlisted servicemen and women who hold the military's classification of photographer, journalist, photojournalist, videographer, graphic artist, or equivalent.

The judging date will be announced on the Defense Information School's Web site after February 1. Their Web site is at


Kentucky News Photographers Association Contest/Seminar, Jan. 23-24

The Kentucky News Photographers Association will hold its annual Photographer of the Year Contest and Seminar January 23-24 at the Marriott East Hotel in Louisville, KY. Speakers this year include Joe Elbert of The Washington Post, Gabriel Tait of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Matt Detrich of The Indianapolis Star, and Denny Simmons of the Evansville Courier & Press.

Contest judging is open to the public on Friday, January 23. The speakers are during Saturday's day-long seminar, which includes vendors from Nikon and Canon. For more information please see


Chinese Court Rejects Photojournalist's Appeal: Seok Jae-hyun Remains In Prison

Seok Jae-hyun
Word has come out of China that the Shandong Superior People's Court in Shandong Province rejected an appeal by South Korean freelance photojournalist Seok Jae-hyun to overturn his conviction on charges of "trafficking in persons."
South Korean photojournalist Nayan Sthankiya, an organizer of the group Resolution 217 which was formed specifically to win the release of Seok from Chinese prison, told News Photographer that Seok remains in detention after the rejected appeal and that the court said he is to finish his two-year sentence. The original verdict on May 22 included a fine of 5,000 Yuans, the confiscation of all his film and cameras, and a lifelong banishment from China at the end of his sentence.


"Seok took the news of the appeal denial very hard," Sthankiya said. "But the Korean Vice Council has said that there is a possibility of an early release, possibly January 16 due to that fact that he is a foreigner and special circumstances." Seok's wife, Kang Hye-won, in Seoul, South Korea, received a telephone call from the South Korean High Consul in Beijing on the night of December 19 with the news that her husband's appeal had been denied.

Seok, whose photographs appeared regularly in The New York Times, was arrested January 18, 2003, while covering North Korean refugees who were attempting to flee China on boats bound for South Korea and Japan. He was working on an ongoing project documenting the plight of North Korean refugees in China, a story that has openly irritated Chinese officials in the past. "There seems to still be some hope that he will be released sooner than later," Sthankiya said. "However, the conviction does mean that he will not be allowed back into China and he will lose all of his camera equipment."
Friends who have been working from the States for Seok's release also took the news with disappointment. "This is horrible news," Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Kaplan said. "We'll just have to keep the faith that he'll be released before two years are up." Kaplan, who is now an associate professor at the University of Florida teaching photography and international journalism to undergraduate and graduate students, suggested that it might be time for friends and supporters to start a fund to help Seok's family.
Journalism organizations and human rights groups have been calling for Seok's release ever since his arrest. The hearing was originally set for June, postponed until mid-July, and then further delayed with no explanation. "The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the continued detention of Seok," Abi Wright of the CPJ said December 23 in a statement. "By keeping him in prison, China's leaders are threatening all foreign correspondents who report on issues that may be embarrassing for the Chinese government," said CPJ's Deputy Director Joel Simon. "Seok was simply carrying out his journalistic duty and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
"When Seok was arrested, so were a South Korean aid worker, two Chinese nationals, and a North Korean who were present during the boatlift Operation. They were also sentenced to two to seven years on similar charges.
According to Wright at the CPJ, 38 journalists are currently in prison in China, although Seok is the only foreigner on that list. In August, two South Korean journalists, Kim Seung Jin and Geum Myeong Seok, were detained in Shanghai while filming North Korean refugees who were attempting to gain asylum by entering a school run by the Japanese government. Kim and Geum were released and deported from China three weeks later. Meanwhile, Seok remains in prison.

Photojournalist's brother killed in fire

Tragedy struck the family of freelance photojournalist David Sokol, an NPPA member based in Wakefield, MA, on Wednesday December 17, when a two-alarm fire destroyed Sokol's parents' home and killed his 16-year-old brother Peter, who was the youngest of eight children. The fire left the family, who are well known in the Wakefield community where they've lived with their children for twenty years, homeless and without possessions. Peter, a Wakefield High School junior, was one of eight children of Laurie and Steven Sokol.

Sokol rushed to the scene Wednesday when he received a page to cover a house fire while on assignment for the Wakefield Daily Item. It turned out to be his family's home. Toni Carolina, a photographer for Massachusetts Community Newspaper Company, arrived at the scene shortly after Sokol. "David said when he got the page he was praying that the number of the house was wrong," Carolina said. "He was in shock when I got there. They lost everything."

According to a story in the Boston Herald, fire investigators suspect that Peter Sokol was playing with a flammable liquid in the back yard of the home and accidentally caught himself on fire. The story says Wakefield police believe that he panicked and ran into the house for help, catching the house on fire in the process. Siblings who were home at the time ran outside calling for help, witnesses said. Firefighters found the youth's body in the living room of the home two hours later after the fire was extinguished. The structure was destroyed, leaving the family with nothing.

Peter Rossi, who is editor of the Daily Item in Wakefield, told News Photographer that Peter delivered the Daily Item at one time and that his sister, Jennifer, is currently one of their newspaper carriers. Rossi also said that David began his photographic career with the Daily Item and that his photographs appear in several of the area's publications now, including the Wakefield newspaper.

A fund to assist the family has been established by the Daily Item at The Savings Bank in Wakefield. According to Rossi, the current goal is to meet the family's immediate needs such as housing, clothing and food. The Savings Bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing and gift certificates. "Peter's parents will have direct access to the fund," Rossi said, "and the bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing, and gift certificates."

Contributions can be sent to:
The Peter Sokol Memorial Fund
c/o The Savings Bank
PO Box 30
Wakefield, MA 01880

John Cornell Wins Run-Off Election

NPPA National Secretary T.C. Baker announced today (December 22, 2003) that John Cornell has won the special run-off election to fill the vacant position of NPPA Past President on the Executive Committee. "The votes have been counted and verified," Baker said, "and the results are John Cornell, 13; Manny Sotelo, 7." Baker said one ballot was cast after the voting deadline and that one board member did not vote. "Both candidates have been notified and are aware of the results," Baker said in an eMail to the Board.

The run-off election became necessary when the first balloting ended with 8 votes for Sotelo, 7 votes for Cornell, and 5 votes for David Handschuh. NPPA Bylaws call for the winner to be a "majority vote of the Board of Directors," and Roberts Rules defines majority vote as "more than half." The vacancy on the EC was created by the resignation of NPPA Immediate Past President Michael D. Sherer.


Run-Off Election Necessary

NPPA National Secretary T.C. Baker reports today that ballots to fill the vacant position of NPPA Past President have been counted and results verified. The vote totals created the need for a special run-off election that will be held immediately.

NPPA bylaws call for the winner to be a "majority vote of the Board of Directors." Roberts Rules defines a majority vote as "more than half." None of the candidates had enough votes to satisfy the definition of a "majority" of the twenty votes cast. Of the 22 Board members eligible to vote, 20 voted and 2 abstained.

The votes were Manny Sotelo, 8; John Cornell, 7; David Handschuh, 5.

"To fill the position fairly with a majority vote and to follow the bylaws, there will now be a run-off election between candidates Manny Sotelo and John Cornell," T.C. Baker informed the Board.

Only Board members are eligible to vote. A new ballot will be sent to Board members Tuesday morning, December 16. Board members have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, December 19, to cast their run-off ballot. The National Secretary will certify the vote at that time.

If you have questions please contact your Regional Director or Associate Director.