Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek Win Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia
NEW YORK, NY; June 1, 2022 — Asia Society is pleased to announce that the 2022 Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia has been awarded to Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek for “Inside the Fall of Kabul,” an account of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
The independent jury that awards the prize called the article by Aikins and photographs by Huylebroek, published in the New York Times Magazine on Dec. 10, 2021, an “extraordinary account of the final days of the U.S.-backed government and the resurrection of the Islamist government it had replaced 20 years earlier.”
The two will be honored at an online awards ceremony and discussion on Thursday, June 23, at 6:00 p.m. ET, hosted by Asia Society in New York.
The Osborn Elliott Prize is the premier honor bestowed for excellence in journalism on Asia. The $10,000 cash award is presented annually to the best example of journalism about Asia during the previous calendar year.
The jury wrote:
“Exhibiting great courage and deep knowledge of a nation and its people, Aikins and Huylebroek traced the slow, and then sudden, collapse of a state on the surface committed to the ambitious ideals of its benefactors in Washington but struggling to administer even the most basic services. It was an extraordinary account of the final days of the U.S.-backed government and the resurrection of the Islamist government it had replaced 20 years earlier. Top U.S. and Afghan leaders failed to anticipate what was coming and now seems tragically inevitable. Remaining in Kabul amid the chaos after the Taliban takeover, traveling in local garb and speaking in local languages, the journalists focused on those who were stranded by that failure. They captured the destruction of a liberal vision of Afghanistan—a vision that may never have reached beyond the compounds and cafes of Kabul—and the tremendous, poignant loss for so many once-hopeful Afghans. Their reporting shows how massive historical events ultimately hinge on the actions of a few people in the span of a few hours or days. But while it was about a concentrated period, the prize-winning piece benefited from years spent learning the culture, the country, and the people of Afghanistan.”
Matthieu Aikins is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has reported from Afghanistan and the Middle East since 2008. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and a Puffin Fellow at Type Media Center. His first book, The Naked Don’t Fear the Water, about an undercover journey to Europe with Afghan refugees, was published by Harper and Fitzcarraldo Editions in February, and is being translated into six languages.
Aikins received the 2022 Pulitzer for international reporting as part of a New York Times team that investigated civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes. He has also won the National Magazine, Polk, and Livingston awards. He is a past fellow at New America, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the American Academy in Berlin, and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, and the anthology The Best American Magazine Writing.
Aikins grew up in Nova Scotia, and has a master's degree in Near Eastern Studies from New York University.
Jim Huylebroek is a freelance photographer from Antwerp, Belgium. Months before graduating from photography school in his hometown, he moved to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he has been based since early 2015. In the summer of 2021, he was present when the Taliban entered the Afghan capital and the last U.S. troops left.
Huylebroek was part of the New York Times team that won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for their investigation of civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes.
Huylebroek has been commissioned or published by The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Paris Match and others. He has been a regular contributor to The New York Times from Afghanistan since 2017.
His first photo book Afghanistan: Unsettled - Three years documenting Afghans on the move was published in cooperation with Norwegian Refugee Council in 2018. He has produced work in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia and the Balkans.
The jury praised the range and quality of entries, both from international media and news outlets in individual markets. “The submissions this year were outstanding,” jury chair Marcus Brauchli said, citing examples such as Reuters’ multimedia coverage of rising strategic tensions over Taiwan, the South China Morning Post’s investigative work on foreign companies doing business in Xinjiang in defiance of sanctions, and the insightful coverage of China last year by The Wall Street Journal’s Lingling Wei.
The jury for the Osborn Elliott Prize is chaired by Marcus Brauchli, managing partner of North Base Media and the former top editor of both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Jurors for the 2022 prize are: Barbara Demick, journalist, author, and 2006 Osborn Elliott Prize winner; Dorinda Elliott, Executive Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and formerly with Newsweek; Nisid Hajari, author and member, Bloomberg editorial board; Zuraidah Ibrahim, Executive Managing Editor, South China Morning Post; and Norman Pearlstine, media executive and advisor and former top editor at the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc., and The Wall Street Journal.
The Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, affectionately referred to as the “Oz Prize,” honors the late Osborn Elliott, legendary journalist, author and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. Elliott was a leading figure in the field of journalism who became one of the earliest practitioners of “civic journalism”—the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy.
Find out more about the Oz Prize and prior winners at AsiaSociety.org/OzPrize.