AP West Africa Bureau Chief Rukmini Callimachi has won the Distinguished Writing Award for Nondeadline Writing from the American Society of News Editors, whose annual honors for reporting and photography were announced today.
Callimachi "tells the story of hunger in Africa in a way you haven't read before,” ASNE said. “This is brave, vital reporting of geopolitical news, presented with an intimate, human face."
In a series of stories in 2012, Callimachi documented the rising instability in a little-known swath of Africa that stretches below the Sahara through the countries of the Sahel region. With courage and prescience, she highlighted the immediate triggers and the long-term problems that have led to its deterioration.
“Rukmini is an amazing blend of courage and humanity,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. “She goes deep into the most uncharted places and patiently teases out the stories of enormous struggle, trial and triumph. And she has carefully built relationships with Islamic fighters who do not ordinarily talk with women, much less women journalists.”
Carroll added: “She has gone back time and again to the little-known Sahel region, now one of the most dangerous places on Earth, and particularly to Mali, bearing witness to the rise of al-Qaida and the atrocities imposed while its fighters held territory that had in effect become their own nation. This year in particular, she has brought to light the particular harshness endured by women and young girls in this beautiful and tragic part of Africa.
“She works frequently with another brave colleague, photographer Rebecca Blackwell. Together they have traveled by road and footpath many hundreds of miles and back again to bring these powerful stories and photos to the world.”
The following stories were among those reviewed by the ASNE judges:
- Hunger Brides: In Niger, child marriage on rise due to hunger (Sept. 16, 2012)
- The Last Camel: Sale of Niger nomad’s last camel a sign of hunger (Aug. 18, 2012)
- A Stunted Nation: Lack of food stunts Chad children, damages minds (Dec. 15, 2012)
Many of Callimachi’s other stories from Africa can be read at http://bit.ly/X3SleZ.
A complete list of ASNE award winners can be found at http://bit.ly/12PoG2i.
In 2011, Callimachi won the 2011 Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award for her 2010 article about Haiti's Hotel Montana.
The Pulliam Award judges cited Callimachi's article as "a compelling story of an online family born out of the rubble of a Haiti hotel."
For documenting mass killings, child trafficking and the struggles from earthquakes and hurricanes Callimachi last year won the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage, awarded by the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its McGill Program in Journalistic Courage.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Oxford University, Callimachi has been reporting from West Africa for AP since December 2006. She has also worked for AP in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and in Portland, Ore., as a reporter and business writer.
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/rcallimachi