Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pulitzer and World Press Photographs of the Year: 1978

Caution: Disturbing images

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

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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 new items).

From1955 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".

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Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography, 1978:


John H Blair, a special assignment photographer for United Press International


A photograph of Tony Kiritsis holding an Indianapolis broker hostage at gunpoint.

The Story:

Tony Kiritsis (1932-2005) was convinced that his mortgage broker, Richard Hall, was after his property when Hall and his father refused Kiritsis extra time to pay mortgage arrears. The property had substantially increase in value and would be sold at a great profit.

In February 1977 Kiritsis went to Hall’s office and took Hall hostage. He wired a sawed off shotgun to Hall’s head using a “dead man’s line”, whereby the wire was secured to the trigger and to Hall’s neck. The effect was that if Kiritsis was shot or if Hall tried to escape, the shotgun would be discharged. The police gave Kiritsis room and he hijacked a police car, taking Hall to his apartment where he held Hall in a 63 hour siege. Kiritsis spoke to news media during the siege. After two days, Kiritsis called a press conference. Standing on the steps of his apartment building, still with hall secured by a wire connected to the shotgun, Kiritsis gave a speech that frequently became emotional, so much so that the television station broadcasting it live cut the feed, believing that Kiritsis would shoot Hall. However, Kiritsis released Hall and fired the shotgun into the air to prove it was loaded. He was arrested and found not guilty by reason of insanity. Kiritsis was released from a mental institution in January 1988, after the state could not prove he was still a danger to society. He died in 2005.

The Photograph:

Blair was sent by United Press International to cover the kidnapping and siege. His Pulitzer winning photograph was taken whilst Kiritsis gave his speech on the steps of the apartment building. Blair was there for the entire siege. When Kiritsis came out with Hall, they were so close to that Blair could have reached out and touched the shotgun. They stopped in front of him and there was a moment when hall closed his eyes, possibly in shock or prayer. That is the photographic moment that earned Blair the Pulitzer.

The judges of the award initially credited another photographer with the award but Blair felt that the photograph was his. Careful checking of the negatives revealed that the photograph had indeed been taken by Blair. The first photographer was asked to hand back the award and the money.

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Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, 1978


J Ross Baughman, Associated Press


"for three photographs from guerrilla areas in Rhodesia."

A Rhodesian soldier questioning villagers near the border of Botswana in the fall of 1977. Taken for Associated Press. First of three photos that were awarded a 1978 Pulitzer Prize.

A prisoner taken by Rhodesian Security Forces in the fall of 1977 stands with a rope around his neck. Taken for Associated Press. Second of three photos that were awarded a 1978 Pulitzer Prize.

A Rhodesian Security Forces soldier swings a bat in front of a beaten prisoner in the fall of 1977. Taken for Associated Press. Third of three photos that were awarded a 1978 Pulitzer Prize.

The Story:

Baughman was covering the Rhodesian Bush war (the civil war that took place from July 1964 to December 1979 in the unrecognised country of Rhodesia) when he took the Pulitzer award winning photographs showing troops brutalising their prisoners.

Baughman had obtained permission to accompany Grey’s Scouts, a Rhodesian Security Forces mounted infantry unit established in 1975 to combat nationalist guerrilla forces. Their job was to seek out anti-government guerrillas and destroy them. Obliged to ride a horse, wear a Scouts uniform and to be armed, he photographed what he saw, only to have his films confiscated by Rhodesian government officials. He was able to hide several rolls and smuggle them out of the country, the award winning photographs being part of those films. At age 23, he is the youngest professional to win a journalism Pulitzer.

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World Press Photograph of the Year, 1978


Sadayuki Mikami


Narita International Airport


A demonstrator is engulfed in flames of the molotov cocktail he was about to throw at the police during protests against the construction of the New Tokyo International Airport. The original Narita Airport plan was unveiled in 1966. To acquire the initial land, the government had to evict protesting landowners. Violent clashes between the opponents and authorities resulted in 13 deaths, including five police officers. The new airport opened in May 1978.

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