AP and Reuters Win 2024 Pulitzer Prizes for Powerful and Tragic Photos

Left: a group of people wade through a river carrying belongings on their heads. right: an artistic installation of stacked pillows and blankets forming a figure hugging its knees.

The 2024 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced. The Associated Press’ photography staff won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography, while Reuters’ photo staff took the prize for Breaking News Photography.

2024 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Feature Photography — Associated Press

Looking first at the Feature Photography prize, the Associated Press won for its poignant, long-term look at the migrant crisis facing those journeying north to the United States from Colombia.

A group of people rest and converse under a sign that reads "frontera panamá colombia," surrounded by various flags and personal belongings in a natural setting.
“Migrants sit under a sign marking the Panama-Colombia border during their trek across the Darién Gap, Tuesday, May 9, 2023.” | AP Photo/Ivan Valencia
A diverse group of people, some holding children, stand behind a wooden barrier with serious expressions, possibly waiting for assistance or at a checkpoint, in a dimly lit, outdoor setting.
“Migrants planning to start walking across the Darién Gap from Colombia to Panama in hopes of reaching the U.S. gather at the trailhead camp in Acandi, Colombia, Tuesday, May 9, 2023.” | AP Photo/Ivan Valencia

The photos were captured throughout 2023 by eight AP staff and freelance photographers, six from Latin America and two from the United States. Photographers had to show the humanity of migration, focusing on the individuals involved.

“Migration is more than numbers. It has to do with people, with the stories behind the reasons for them to leave their countries,” says Eduardo Castillo, AP’s news director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

People walking through a shallow river with their belongings in plastic bags. a man in front assists a woman and child, helping them navigate the water.
“Haitian migrants wade through water as they cross the Darién Gap from Colombia to Panama in hopes of reaching the U.S., Tuesday, May 9, 2023.” | AP Photo/Ivan Valencia

“Simply put, this was AP at its best — leveraging our global footprint and deep expertise to cover a fast-moving story with high impact,” Executive Editor Julie Pace told AP news staff about the victory. “It’s also particularly heartening that the Pulitzers have recognized AP’s work on international migration given that this has been a global coverage priority for us for the past several years.”

A night scene where medical staff in masks attend to a crying toddler held by a distressed woman. other individuals surround them in a dimly lit outdoor setting.
“Migrants, mainly from Central America, who were traveling to the U.S. inside a tractor-trailer, are detained by Mexican immigration agents and National Guard members, in Veracruz, Mexico, Sunday, July 23, 2023.” | AP Photo/Felix Marquez

Staff photographers Greg Bull, Eric Gay, Fernando Llano, Marco Ugarte, and Eduardo Verdugo worked on the feature alongside longtime AP freelance photographers Christian Chavez, Felix Marquez, and Ivan Valencia.

“I’d just like to thank people on the way, the migrants themselves… the folks who allowed us to be with them in this tense moment of their life and allowed us, entrusted us to tell their stories,” Bull said to fellow AP staffers.

A child crawls on the ground under branches, guided by a man and a woman, who appear focused and concerned, in a natural, rugged outdoor setting.
“Migrants who crossed into the U.S. from Mexico pass under concertina wire along the Rio Grande river, Thursday, September 21, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.” | AP Photo/Eric Gay

The migrant crisis remains as important in 2024 as it was last year. More than 10 million people have arrived at U.S. borders in the previous five years. While with such sheer numbers of people arriving, it can be easy for people to politicize the migrant crisis; it is a big issue ahead of the impending 2024 Presidential election.

AP’s photographers credit their ability to work with empathy as a big part of their success.

A group of people helping a man jump over a narrow water canal in a rural setting under a clear sky.
“Migrants cross the Rio Grande river into the United States from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, March 29, 2023.” | AP Photo/Christian Chavez

“It was their ability to emotionally grasp the experience of others and connect with the migrants that enabled them to convey the profoundly intimate moments they captured,” said Ricardo Mazalán, Latin America deputy director of storytelling and photos for AP.

For their prize, the photographers and AP have been awarded $15,000 and, of course, the iconic Pulitzer Prize medal.

2024 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Breaking News Photography — Reuters

Shifting gears to the Breaking News award, Reuters’ photography staff won this year for their coverage of Hamas’ deadly attack in Israel on October 7, 2023, and the first weeks of Israel’s violent rebuttal on Gaza.

Nighttime cityscape with multiple light trails from rockets or fireworks in the sky, curving against an urban backdrop of illuminated buildings.
“Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from Gaza, as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel, October 9, 2023.” | Photo by Amir Cohen.
Aerial view of a devastated urban area with large crowds gathering around an expansive crater surrounded by demolished buildings under a dusky sky.
“Palestinians search for casualties amid deep craters filled with broken concrete and twisted metal after Israeli air strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, October 31, 2023.” | Photo by Anas Al-Sharif.

“Reuters photographers — often working at great risk to their personal safety — produced what the Pulitzer jurors called ‘raw and urgent’ images documenting the early days of the war between Israel and Hamas, which began with the militant group’s early-morning October 7 attack in Israel that killed 1,200 people,” Reuters explains.

The winning photos were captured by a wide range of photographers, including Ahmed Zakot, Amir Cohen, Ammar Awad, Evelyn Hockstein, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Anas al-Shareef, Mohammed Salem, Ronen Zvulun, and Yasser Qudih.

A woman wearing a robe and headscarf stands in a fire-damaged bedroom, holding a camera while looking at charred walls, burnt furniture, and a messy bed with intact curtains.
“A woman reacts as she visits her neighbor’s property after taking shelter from rocket attacks from Hamas, in Ashkelon, Israel, October 7, 2023.” | Photo by Amir Cohen.

The lattermost photographer, Qudih, has been heavily scrutinized following the October 7th attacks in Israel, with some claiming — or just “raising questions” — that Qudih could be associated with Hamas.

A grieving man rests his head on a shrouded body among several others, all marked with numbers. mourning and loss are palpable in this somber scene.
“Day breaks as a survivor of an Israeli airstrike on southern Gaza, who was displaced from Gaza City and sought refuge with family in the city of Khan Younis, lays his head on the corpse of a female relative named Tamam which lies alongside other family members who were killed in the strike, Nasser hospital, Khan Younis, Gaza October 24, 2023. The script on the bottom of the image reads ‘Ghasan Ahmed Youssef Murad.'” | Photo by Mohammed Salam.

Reuters has vehemently denied these unsubstantiated claims, and notes that Israeli air strikes killed eight of Qudih’s family members on November 13, 2023, less than a week after pro-Israel media watchdog HonestReporting name-dropped Qudih, among other journalists, as those with ties to Hamas.

A soldier in tactical gear and helmet aiming a rifle in a dimly lit tunnel, with walls reflecting small amounts of light.
“An Israeli soldier secures a tunnel underneath Al Shifa Hospital, amid the ground operation of the Israeli army against Hamas, in the northern Gaza Strip, November 22, 2023. Reuters photographers embedded with the Israeli Defence Forces are required, as a condition of their presence, to submit those images for review before publication. No photos were removed by the IDF from this embed.” | Photo by Ronen Zvulun.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says that, as of today, at least 97 journalists and media workers have been killed since the war began last October, 92 of whom are Palestinian.

A joyful elderly woman presses her hands and face against a window, smiling broadly at people who are observing her from the other side, visible in the reflection.
“Aviva Adrienne Siegel, 62, who was released after being taken hostage during the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, waves to well-wishers from the bus she is traveling in, Ofakim, Israel, November 26, 2023.” | Photo by Amir Cohen.
A chaotic scene where a group of men carry an injured woman, who is shouting in pain, through a crowded area. the emotion and urgency are palpable in the rushed movement and expressions.
“A wounded Palestinian girl screams ‘Ya Allah,’ (‘Oh, my God!’) as she is brought on a stretcher into Nasser hospital, following Israeli strikes on the Ma’an school, amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Khan Younis located in the southern Gaza Strip, December 5, 2023.” | Photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.
A woman in a headscarf and blue gown cradles a swaddled baby in a hospital, her posture expressing tenderness and care. they sit against a marble wall.
“In a final embrace Inas Abu Maamar, 36, cradles the shroud-wrapped body of her five-year-old niece, Saly, who died in Israeli strikes on Khan Younis, at the Nasser Hospital morgue before her funeral in southern Gaza, October 17, 2023.” | Photo by Mohammed Salem.

“Since the Israel-Gaza war began, journalists have been paying the highest price — their lives — to defend our right to the truth. Each time a journalist dies or is injured, we lose a fragment of that truth,” says CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna in New York. “Journalists are civilians who are protected by international humanitarian law in times of conflict. Those responsible for their deaths face dual trials: one under international law and another before history’s unforgiving gaze.”

Image credits: Associated Press and Reuters. Individual photographers are credited in the photo captions.