Syracuse University Magazine


Nikki Kahn G’04 took the photo of Idamise Pierre leaning against a tree in Haiti. The photo was among the selection taken by Washington Post photojournalists who were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post

Prized Journalism

Two Alumni Honored with Pulitzers

Photographing the tragic aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and exposing corruption in a suburban Los Angeles town brought 2011 Pulitzer Prizes to two Newhouse School alumni. Photojournalist Nikki Kahn G’04 received a Pulitzer in the Breaking News Photography category, and reporter Paloma Esquivel G’06 was honored with a Pulitzer in the Public Service category. 

Kahn, a staff photographer for The Washington Post, and colleagues Carol Guzy and Ricky Carioti were recognized for images they captured over a year’s time in Haiti following the Caribbean nation’s devastating 2010 earthquake. “It was impossible for us to disconnect ourselves because of the magnitude of the disaster,” says Kahn, who earned a master’s degree in photojournalism from Newhouse. “We were there, in the moment, working.” The photos brought the disaster to life and personalized the tragedy for many Americans. “I think the photo of Idamise, the old lady leaning against the tree, is probably one of my favorites,” Kahn says. “It seemed to encompass all that Haiti was feeling, just broken and tired, but proud and hopeful at the same time. That is a photo I feel very close to.”

Esquivel was part of a team of 11 Los Angeles Times reporters who uncovered an extraordinary municipal scandal: the misappropriation of millions of taxpayer dollars by city officials in Bell, California, with almost all of the money going directly into their pockets in the form of outrageous salaries. “I didn’t think it would be that big,” says Esquivel, a graduate of the Newhouse master’s degree program in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism. “To me, it was really a lesson in how bad things can get when there isn’t much oversight from local media.”

Kahn and Esquivel expressed pride in winning the Pulitzer, one of the most prestigious honors in American journalism, but at the end of the day say they don’t feel any real difference. Both felt they were just doing their jobs. —Natalie Maneval

Nikki_Kahn.jpgPhotojournalist Nikki Kahn G’04