Posted in Behind the News

Chronicling ‘the unraveling of a nation’

, by Lauren Easton

The Overseas Press Club announced today that AP Venezuela correspondent Hannah Dreier has won its award for the best newspaper, news service or digital reporting from abroad.

Correspondent Hannah Dreier. (Courtesy: Hannah Dreier)

Dreier will receive the Hal Boyle Award for her reporting documenting Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis. The award is named for the AP columnist who earned a Pulitzer in 1945 for his distinguished World War II reporting.

The OPC judges noted that Dreier, based in Caracas, “chronicled the unraveling of a nation… a once-prosperous society, with the largest oil reserves in the world, driven by its leaders to the brink of starvation.”

The judges continued:

Dreier bore witness to a collapse of middle-class life — food riots, collapsing health care, the dawn of mob justice – and then unearthed its origins, a combination of mismanagement, political delusion, and corruption. Throughout, she also exposed a less visible realm of ruin: the loss of empathy among neighbors, the corrosion of the soul. Her efforts had consequences. U.S. senators called for sanctions against corrupt officials. Readers donated money to pay for a child’s medical treatments — while, at the same time, she received threats from Venezuelan intelligence officers and government supporters.
Irama Carrero is aided by fellow shoppers after fainting in a food line outside a grocery store in Caracas, Venezuela, May 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Dreier described food shortages last August on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” saying: “It feels like we’re seeing a collapse of society on just about every level this summer. Here in the capital, families are having such a hard time finding food that they’re basically spending all day in bed just to save calories. We’re seeing a wave of women coming in to be sterilized because it’s just gotten too hard to raise a child here with no diapers, no soap, no milk.”

She detailed political upheaval in Venezuela on Northern California public station KQED’s “Forum,” and outlined the country’s currency crisis on PRI’s “The Takeaway.”

The OPC’s Joe and Laurie Dine Award for best international reporting on human rights in any medium was awarded to AP’s terrorism enterprise team for its coverage of the savage legacy of the Islamic State group.

Those whose work was included in the winning entry are: international security correspondent Lori Hinnant, investigative reporter Desmond Butler, correspondent Susannah George, investigative reporter Martha Mendoza, video journalists Bram Janssen and Balint Szlanko, Middle East regional photo editor Maya Alleruzzo, chief photographer Hussein Malla, photographers Hassan Ammar and Michael Probst, artist Francois Duckett, newsperson Maureen Linke and planning director Maeva Bambuck. The team was led by enterprise editor Lee Keath, Middle East regional text editor Dan Perry, and international investigations editor Trish Wilson.

The judges called the AP series “a testament to the spirit and endurance of public service journalism. While officials were slow to document the deaths and destruction of the Islamic State, AP reporters, often at great personal risk, took an active role collecting evidence of the tragedies and despair.”

Kathy Gannon, AP senior correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan, received a citation for her work, “Honor Bound.”

A full list of winners is available here.

The OPC awards will be presented on April 27 at a dinner in New York.