Burton Benjamin Memorial Award: JOHN F. BURNS


In an interview with the American Journalism Review last year, John F. Burns was asked, "Why do journalists risk their lives to cover a story?" His answer: "Journalists want to know; we are incessantly curious people. ...There is a compulsion to bear witness, to tell the story of the afflicted. But we can't tell that story if we don't go down that road."

In his four decades in journalism, Burns has gone down many roads, in many parts of the world. Along the way, he's been honored with two Pulitzer Prizes for his work in war zones (in 1997 for reporting on the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and in 1993 for his coverage of the siege of Sarajevo) and two George Polk Awards (one as part of a team reporting on Africa in 1979 at the height of apartheid and one in 1996 for his Afghan coverage).

This last spring, Burns, 59, was in Baghdad during the war with Iraq. And after most U.S. television networks pulled out of the capital in the final days before the United States began bombing the city on March 19, Burns became the de facto eyes and ears for much of the American public, appearing on nightly news programs on CBS, NBC, and on PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

Burns was appointed chief foreign correspondent of The New York Times in April 2003. He has served as the Times bureau chief in Kabul, New Delhi, Toronto, Beijing, Moscow, and Johannesburg. In July 1986, while in Beijing, the Chinese government arrested Burns after a motorcycle journey across the Chinese heartland and imprisoned him for six days on charges of espionage. A trial was avoided when the Chinese government deported him to Hong Kong.

Before joining The New York Times in October 1975 as a member of the metro desk, Burns worked at The Ottawa Journal, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Globe and Mail of Toronto.

2016

Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Shawkan (Egypt), Malini Subramaniam (India), Can Dündar (Turkey), Óscar Martínez (El Salvador)

2015

Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014

Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013

Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012

Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011

Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010

Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009

Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008

Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007

Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006

Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005

Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004

Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003

Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002

Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001

Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000

Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999

Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998

Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997

Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996

Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)

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