Expatica news

Spanish reporter nabs top prize at Bern’s True Story Award

Journalists based in Mexico, Germany and the United States won prizes at this year’s edition of the True Story Award, given in the Swiss capital on Friday night. They were selected from a pool of more than 1,100 stories submitted for awards worth a total of CHF60,000 ($60,000).

Jacobo Garcia, a Spanish reporter based in Mexico, won the first prize of CHF30,000 for his story “The Murky Waters of the Caribbean”, published in the Spanish newspaper El Pais two years ago. The story looks at a little-known part of the Caribbean Sea between southern Mexico and Belize through which drugs and migrants flow north.

“Jacobo Garcia went to an area that few other reporters have gone to and risked his life to tell a story about a grey area inhabited by people forced to live on the margins,” said jury member Jon Lee Anderson in announcing the award.

The award’s second prize, worth CHF20,000, went to German journalist Nina Schick for her personal essay called “Under the Cross”, published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s magazine in April 2020. It details her account of Catholic church abuses that led to her father’s suicide.

“This subtle, beautifully done story is moving yet disturbing, turning a personal story into a universal one,” said jury member Nuruddin Farah of Schick’s piece.

The third-place prize, worth CHF10,000, went to American journalist Sarah Topol for her story “The Schoolteacher and the Genocide”, about a Rohingya schoolteacher in Myanmar. It was published in the New York Times Magazine in 2019.

“This is a powerful and very personal account of a minority community, and how a schoolteacher tried to continue the memory and the presence of this community by telling the children their story and their narratives,” said jury member Xiaolu Guo.

The prize ceremony can be viewed in the video below. It is preceded by a discussion among jury members about practicing journalism in their respective countries. SWI swissinfo.ch was a media partner for the event.