News Archive

Carolyn Cole Awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award

Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times has been awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for photography by the Overseas Press Club of America for the second year in a row for her essay, Covering Conflict: Iraq and Liberia.

Alex Majoli of Magnum Photos was awarded the Feature Photography Award for the "best feature photography published in any medium on an international theme," for his portfolio, Wars Without End: The Congo, which was published by Newsweek.

Chris Hondros of Getty Images was awarded the John Faber Award for the "best photographic reporting from abroad in newspapers and wire services" for his essay, Chaos Enveloping: Liberia's Deadly Summer.

Li Zhensheng and Robert Pledge of Contact Press Images were awarded the Olivier Rebbot Award, which is for the "best photographic reporting from abroad in magazines and books," for the book Red-Color News Soldier: A Chinese Photographer's Odyssey Through The Cultural Revolution.

The prestigious Capa award is for the "best published photographic reporting from abroad, requiring exceptional courage and enterprise." Cole was recognized for her coverage of the siege of Monrovia, Liberia, and the battle between government troops and rebels for control of the city, including the story of a Liberian woman who cared for 75 orphans who lost their parents in the civil war. Her portfolio also included photographs of the effects of war on a family in Iraq.

Judges said Cole's images about the human tragedy of war are "heart wrenching, visceral and horrific." Citations in the Capa Award category were given to Christopher Anderson of the agency VII for The Road To Baghdad, published by U.S. News and World Report, and to Gary Knight of the agency VII for The Battle For Diyala Bridge, published by Newsweek.

So far this year Cole has been recognized for her photojournalism with nearly every top honor in the profession: the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography; the National Press Photographers Association's Newspaper Photographer of the Year award in the 2004 Best of Photojournalism contest; the Newspaper Photographer of the Year award in the Missouri School of Journalism's 61st Annual Pictures of the Year International contest; and in the World Press Photo competition, second and third places in the "People In The News" category for her essays from Iraq and Liberia. Majoli was also honored earlier this year by the NPPA in the 2004 Best of Photojournalism contest when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year.

In recognizing Red-Color News Soldier, the judges said "This extraordinary visual record of the Cultural Revolution was photographed and preserved at great personal risk to the photographer. The book is an invaluable historical document that vividly details the chilling events of those tumultuous years."

About Majoli's Feature Award winning essay, the judges said, "These beautifully composed black and white pictures of the strife in the Congo are a poignant and powerful reminder that we must not forget the terrible human toll resulting from the manmade civil wars that are ravaging so many African nations."

A citation of honor was given to the photographers of The New York Times in the John Faber Award category for their collected images, The War In Iraq.

The Overseas Press Club of America was founded in 1939 in New York City by foreign correspondents who wanted to encourage and recognize the highest standards of professional integrity and skill in reporting international news and to maintain an international association of journalists who work in the States and abroad. This year the OPC honored journalists in 21 award categories, including writers, photographers, and producers in both print and broadcast journalism, during a dinner April 21 in New York, which was hosted by Charlie Rose of PBS.


Carolyn Cole, David Leeson, Cheryl Diaz Meyer Win The Pulitzer Prizes For Photography











 David J. Leeson and Cheryl Diaz Meyer, senior staff photographers for The Dallas Morning News, today won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photographs for their coverage of the invasion of Iraq last year. And Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for her pictures of the siege of Liberia's capital city, Monrovia.

All three Pulitzer photography winners were top finishers in the NPPA Best Of Photojournalism 2004 contest Newspaper Photographer of the Year category, which was judged and announced last week. Cole is the NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year for her photography in Liberia and Iraq; Leeson and Diaz Meyer were Honorable Mentions in the NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year category for their coverage of Iraq.

[Celebration: Los Angeles Times staff photographers Don Barletti (left) and Carolyn Cole celebrate Col's win of the 2004 Pulitzer in feature photography for her work in Liberia. Barletti won the Feature Photography Pulitzer Prize in 2003. Photograph by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times]

Cole is also the University of Missouri's 61st annual Pictures of the Year International Newspaper Photographer of the Year for her portfolio from the Iraqi war and its aftermath. The Times, in reporting Cole's Pulitzer today, said "Cole's award for feature photography captured the chaos and terror as rebel forces laid siege to the Liberian capital, forcing President Charles Taylor to give up power and triggering a humanitarian crisis." The Pulitzer jury cited Cole's photographs for being a "cohesive, behind-the-scenes look at the effects of civil war in Liberia, with special attention to innocent citizens caught in the conflict."

For Cole, the fact that one photojournalist took all three top photography honors in a single year is a remarkable accomplishment. "I am incredibly proud of Carolyn," said Colin Crawford, the assistant managing editor of photography at the Los Angeles Times. "She is an experienced, tenacious, talented photojournalist that is truly deserving of this award. She has demonstrated over and over again that no matter what the situation, no matter how bad the conflict, that she can take memorable images that move the reader." Cole was also a finalist for the Pulitzer last year for her coverage of the Church of the Nativity siege in Bethlehem.

[Marine War Paint: A US soldier painted his face before battle in Iraq, hoping to scare the enemy. Photograph by Cheryl Diaz Meyer/The Dallas Morning News]

 "The best thing about winning this is that it gives me an opportunity to thank all those people who have supported me all along," Carolyn Cole said from the photography department on her way to a staff celebration. "And that includes Colin Crawford, Steve Stroud, Gail Fisher, and many, many others." Cole said that until it was pointed out to her, she had not yet realized that she's the first photojournalist to win the Pulitzer Prize, the NPPA BOP top newspaper honor, and the Missouri POYi top newspaper honor in the same year.

Cole is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in photojournalism. Before joining the Los Angeles Times, she was a staff photographer at The Sacramento Bee from 1992-94, and freelanced in Mexico City from 1990-92. She was a staff photographer for the San Francisco Examiner from 1988-90, and before that was with the El Paso Herald Post from 1986-88.

[Iraq: A family in Iraq reacts as the bodies of their family members, killed by US troops at a check point, come home. Photograph by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times]

Leeson and Meyer were embedded with U.S. military units as they advanced on Baghdad at the beginning of the war with Iraq. Leeson was embedded with the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division, and Meyer was with the Marines' Second Tank Battalion. The Dallas Morning News reports that this is the first Pulitzer for Leeson, who has been with the paper since 1984 and has been a Pulitzer finalist three other times, and for Meyer, who was a finalist for the first time this year and who came to the News in 2000.

Meyer, called at a celebration party tonight only hours before she leaves on assignment for the Philippines, said "This is something that you always dream about, but you can never really envision the say that it might happen. It's truly amazing because there are so many wonderful photographers out there who could have just as well got this prize, so the fact that we're honored with it is really special." Meyer said that the real joy of it is in sharing it with her coworkers and fellow staff. "They've been so supportive, sharing in the pride and the joy of this. They are the ones who picked up the extra work while we were gone, the extra assignments, so it's just as much their prize as it is ours," she said.

[Iraq: US Troops invading Iraq capture a prisoner. Photograph by David Leeson/The Dallas Morning News]

 Meyer also praised her boss, director of photography Ken Geiger. "He's an amazing guy, who sacrificed more than three months of his life to carry a cell phone with him twenty-four hours a day and to answer it in the middle of the night whenever I called needing a decision. He always answered, he was always there for us, and not because it is his job but because of an amazing amount of dedication he has to us and our photography."

Asked if there was any one special photograph from the essay that stands out for her today after winning the Pulitzer, Meyer said, "Probably the one of two Marines helping an old man after he had accidentally been shot in their crossfire. In the middle of the battle he was trying to sneak by. Not really knowing if he was a guerilla or not, the Marines shot him. Then when they realized he was a civilian, they went back to get him. It was the lead photography in the entry. It was a very heroic and generous moment for the Marines, it was a risk they didn't have to take."

[Monrovia Battle: A government soldier takes aim at a rebel soldier during a battle in Monrovia, Liberia. Photograph by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times]

 "An award like this is bittersweet," David Leeson said. "The images in the portfolio are very difficult, of people who have died or who are dying, and it feels strange to drink champagne after photographing those things and being awarded for it. But I accept this award in memory of all those people who have fallen, and on behalf of the soldiers who are still there and fighting."

This was the fourth time Leeson has been a Pulitzer finalist. "Initially, today was a sense of relief after losing the other three times. For twenty years I've had people believing in me and having confidence in me and I've been living with comments like, 'You're going to win a Pulitzer one day.' Today was a huge affirmation for all the people who have had all the confidence in me for so many years," Leeson said.

[In Iraq: Dallas Morning News staff photographers David Leeson (L) and Cheryl Diaz Meyer pose for a photo after meeting up in Baghdad, Iraq on April 20, 2003. Today they won a Pulitzer for their coverage of the war.]

 "The Pulitzer Prize has a great service in that it gives these images an additional life, so that future generations will see them and these photographs will continue to speak truth about the cost of war, and about the price of freedom," Leeson added.

The finalists for this year's Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography included the Associated Press for their coverage of Iraq, and Chris Hondros Getty Images for coverage of the uprising in Liberia. The Pulitzer Board said the AP coverage was "evocative, a panoramic portrayal of the war in Iraq." They also said that the photographs by Hondros were "powerful and courageous coverage of the bloody upheaval in Liberia," and that the Pulitzer jury moved his entry from the Feature Photography category to News.

[Cole Celebrates: Carolyn Cole celebrateswinning the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography today at the Los Angeles Times. Photograph by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times]

 Also finalists for the Pulitzer in Feature Photography were Pauline Lubens, Dai Sugano, and Patrick Tehan of the San Jose Mercury News for their photographic coverage of the recall election of California Gov. Gray Davis. The Pulitzer jury said their photographs were "imaginative and sophisticated." The other finalist in this category was Damir Sagolj's of Reuters for his unforgettable photograph of a U.S. Marine medic holding a wounded child in Iraq. The child's mother had just been shot and killed in crossfire at a Marine check point when their vehicle failed to stop as ordered (see cover, News Photographer, September 2003). The Pulitzer photo jury moved his entry from the Breaking News category to Feature.


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