Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Pulitzer and World Press Photos of the Year, continued: 1992


It’s been a while since we had a Pulitzer and World Press Photo of the Year post so . . . 


Pulitzer Prizes for Photography: 

Between 1942 and 1967 a Pulitzer Prize for Photography was awarded for photojournalism, that is, for photographs telling a news story. In 1968 that award was replaced by awards in two new categories: 

- the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (photography in the nature of breaking news, as it has been called since 2000); and 

- the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (human interest and matters associated with news items). 

World Press Photo of the Year: 

From 1955 World Press Photo has awarded prizes for the best photographs in 10 categories, with an overall award for the image that "... is not only the photojournalistic encapsulation of the year, but represents an issue, situation or event of great journalistic importance, and does so in a way that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual perception and creativity". 

The photographs are interesting not only in their own right but for being windows on history. 


Pulitzer Price for Breaking News Photography 


Staff, Associated Press 

Photographs of the attempted coup in Russia and the subsequent collapse of the Communist regime. 

The Photographs: 

Boris Yeltsin reading a speech on a tank during the August 1991 communist coup, one of the events leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian Federation, makes a speech from atop a tank in front of the Russian parliament building in Moscow, U.S.S.R., Monday, Aug. 19, 1991. Yeltsin called on the Russian people to resist the communist hard liners in the Soviet coup. The attempted coup was one of the events leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union. 


A summary of the 1991 coup, known as the August Coup, from the History Channel website at: 

Just three days after it began, the coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev collapses. Despite his success in avoiding removal from office, Gorbachev’s days in power were numbered. The Soviet Union would soon cease to exist as a nation and as a Cold War threat to the United States.

The coup against Gorbachev began on August 18, led by hard-line communist elements of the Soviet government and military. The attempt was poorly planned and disorganized, however. The leaders of the coup seemed to spend as much time bickering among themselves—and, according to some reports, drinking heavily—as they did on trying to win popular support for their action. Nevertheless, they did manage to put Gorbachev under house arrest and demand that he resign from leadership of the Soviet Union. Many commentators in the West believed that the administration of President George Bush would come to the rescue, but were somewhat surprised at the restrained response of the U.S. government. These commentators did not know that at the time a serious debate was going on among Bush officials as to whether Gorbachev’s days were numbered and whether the United States should shift its support to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin’s stock rose sharply as he publicly denounced the coup and organized strikes and street protests by the Russian people. The leaders of the coup, seeing that most of the Soviet military did not support their action, called off the attempt and it collapsed on August 21. 

The collapse of the coup brought a temporary reprieve to the Gorbachev regime, but among U.S. officials he was starting to be seen as damaged goods. Once a darling of the U.S. press and public, Gorbachev increasingly was viewed as incompetent and a failure. U.S. officials began to discuss the post-Gorbachev situation in the Soviet Union. Based on what had transpired during the August 1991 coup, they began a slow but steady tilt toward Yeltsin. In retrospect, this policy seemed extremely prudent, given that Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Despite the turmoil around him, Yeltsin continued to serve as president of the largest and most powerful of the former soviet socialist republics, Russia. 


Award:  Pulitzer Feature (Human Interest) Photograph 

Year:  1992 

Photographer:  John Kaplan, Block Newspapers, Toledo, Ohio, 

Photograph(s):  Photographs depicting the diverse lifestyles of seven 21-year-olds across the United States. 

The Photographs: 

Phil: A Teen Idol But a Mother’s Worst Fear. 
With boyish bravado, Phil Anselmo, the lead singer of Pantera, shows off his pet boa before the start of the band’s first tour. 

Rodney's Crime. 
Rodney Woodson, 21, stands in shame as detectives uncover the gun he used in a Pittsburgh Hill District killing. Completed before the Pulitzer Prize entry, the story led to the Robert F. Kennedy Award and Nikon Sabbatical Grant, enabling the rest of the essay. 

Just 21 and a high school dropout, Frank Cline's face is already weathered from a life of poverty. 

An illegal immigrant living in San Diego, Beatriz came to America to provide a better life for her children. 

On the runway at the Oscar de la Renta show, Tanya, a former victim of child abuse, has suddenly emerged as one of New York's top models. 

NFL rookie Marc Spindler grimaces in pain during the national anthem at his debut with the Detroit Lions. A recurring knee injury would end his first year after just three games. 

A senior at Harvard, Malli Marshall dreams of a career as a doctor while maintaining a long distance relationship with her boyfriend. 

Working as a prostitute to support his drug habit, Brian shoots up speed at a Hollywood, California hotel. "I need to get high...high as a kite and then deal with the world," he says.


Award: World Press Photograph of the Year 

Year:   1992 

Photographer: David Turnley 

Gulf War 
US Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz mourns the death of fellow soldier Andy Alaniz, killed by friendly fire. 

The Photograph: 


From Amateur Photographer at: 

The 1991 Gulf War created a new benchmark in reporting restrictions, and the images photographers were allowed to publish were strictly controlled. At the time of the war, David Turnley was an acclaimed photojournalist. In 1988 he had won the top prize at the World Press Photo competition for his photograph of a man mourning his son, killed in the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Two years later he won a Pulitzer Prize for his photography covering the political uprisings in China and Eastern Europe. 

When the Gulf War began, Turnley was one of a pool of photographers attached to the US Air Force. However, he found that his work was being restricted. “We were accompanied by a public affairs officer whose job was to make sure we stuck to Pentagon restrictions,” he recalled in a BBC interview in 2005. “This meant we would not be allowed to photograph casualties of war and certainly not war dead.” 

“While out in the field I got wind that much of the TV coverage was portraying a kind of sanitised war, one in which big technology was being used but that no human life, and particularly not American life, was at risk. It became clear to me that it was going to be very difficult for me to document the reality of the war.” Later, Turnley joined an elite MASH (mobile army surgical hospital) unit, which, by chance, didn’t have a public affairs officer attached to it. 

After the fierce bombing raids of Operation Desert Storm and the later Allied invasion of Iraq on 24 February 1991, the brief but devastating war was coming to an end. During one of the final battles, Turnley was on board a military helicopter when it picked up the three-man crew of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. It had taken a direct hit in a missile attack that was later revealed as “friendly fire”. The vehicle’s driver, Andy Alaniz, was killed instantly and had been carried into the helicopter in a body bag; the two surviving men, who included Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz, were both wounded and disorientated. 

Turnley watched as a medical staff member handed Alaniz’s identity tag to the Sergeant. He photographed the moment that Kozakiewicz, seen in the picture on the left, realised that his friend and comrade was dead and began to cry. This image captures the tragedy of the soldier’s death on what turned out to be the last day of fighting. 

“I knew this was going to be a good picture and I wanted to get it back to my editors in Saudi Arabia quickly,” Turnley later remembered. “My only option was to send the film through the military. When I got to Saudi Arabia, I found out that my editors hadn’t received the film.” 

When he questioned the US military officials about the film, he was told that it was being held until the next of kin were informed, although this had already happened. Turnley recalled that he went to the Lieutenant in charge and said, “You know what happens in war and you are depriving these men of their due heroism, the fact that they had to risk their lives to fight in this war.” The film was subsequently given back to Turnley and this one image was published in newspapers and magazines worldwide. 

The photograph later won the Picture of the Year prize at the World Press Photo awards and confirmed Turnley’s reputation as one of the best contemporary photojournalists. He believes it has provoked such a strong reaction, and for many people has become symbolic of the war itself, because of its raw emotional power. “It is an unbelievably intimate photo,” he has said. “It reveals the vulnerability of otherwise strong men.” 

“It is not necessarily a photograph about American soldiers. It’s about war and the young men who go to war. There is a certain nobility and dignity on the faces of these soldiers. I think that Ken Kozakiewicz touches chords that are deeply emotional in terms of his grief and his heroism. There is a certain everyman quality that becomes a very strong icon for the reality of war, which is always a tragic reality.”

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