Ladies and gentlemen, history has been made. For the first time since its inception in 1917, the Pulitzer Prize has just been awarded to two Egyptian women; Maggie Michael and Nariman El-Mofty. Words cannot begin to describe how amazed, impressed, and truly proud we are of this inspiring duo. As you peruse the following paragraphs, you will realise that they more than deserve this prestigious award.
So, what is the Pulitzer Prize and is it a big deal? Well, let’s get the second part of the question out of the way; the answer is the biggest YES imaginable! It is, in fact, a very big deal. Why is that? The Pulitzer is the most recognisable award in the world of publishing for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition.
It was established in 1917 by wealthy American publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, and is currently being administered by NYC’s Colombia University. Prizes are awarded in 21 categories, and each winner receives $15,000 and a certificate. The only exception is the winner in the public service category of the journalism competition who is awarded a gold medal.
Now let’s learn more about our heroines whose names will forever be carved in our memories, and the exact details of their achievement that led to this award. As previously mentioned, Egyptian journalist, Maggie Michael, and Canadian-Egyptian photojournalist, Nariman El-Mofty, along with Yemeni video journalist, Maad Al-Zikry, won a Pulitzer in international reporting for their coverage of abuses in Yemen’s civil war. According to the Associated Press (AP) where the amazing trio work, the brave journalists spent a year uncovering atrocities and suffering in Yemen, shining a light on “a conflict largely ignored by the American public.”
The AP also added, “Their images and stories, gathered at times under dangerous conditions, made a difference.” For example, their series of reports documented civilian casualties of a US drone campaign, drew attention to the presence of child soldiers on the front lines, and showed evidence of torture by both Houthi rebels and US-backed forces. When the AP revealed areas where people were starving, the United Nations rushed food and medicine to these regions and threatened to cut off aid to Houthi-controlled areas unless corrupt food diversions stopped.
A quick, concise biography on Michael and El-Mofty before we go. Maggie Michael has been covering political and religious conflicts across the Middle East for 15 years. During this time, she formed a reservoir of knowledge regarding the political, social, and cultural dynamics of this region. According to her official profile on the Pulitzer Center website, her primary aim is to produce powerful enterprise stories, and part of her responsibility is to supervise a wide network of Arabic-speaking stringers and reporters across the region.
As for Nariman El-Mofty, her biography did not fail to impress us as well. Do you know the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? If there was ever someone to prove the validity of this quote, it is definitely El-Mofty. The website states that “she has a sensitive eye for portraiture that highlights the humanity of an impoverished society collapsing under the weight of war”. She started her career as a photo editor, then focused on photography in 2016, covering Egypt, Yemen, and other parts of the Middle East. Coverage of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are also included in her dossier.
Thank you, Maggie Michael and Nariman El-Mofty, for making your country proud!