Mariupol saw the world through the award-winning eyes of the AP team.

On May 8, 2023, David Bowder reported on the Pulitzer Prize awarded to a team of journalists from the Associated Press for their coverage of the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. The team, led by Russian reporters Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka, and Vasilia Stepanenko, were the only journalists in Mariupol during the Russian siege. Their coverage highlighted the suffering endured by Ukrainians and countered Russian disinformation. The team also successfully opened a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol while evading capture by Kremlin forces.

The Pulitzer Prize jury recognized the efforts of the Ukrainian journalists and Paris-based Lori Hinnant, awarding the AP with a prestigious public service award. Seven AP photographers, including Maloletka, also won breaking news Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of the wars involving Mariupol. The AP was also a finalist for a third award for its work in Ukraine, which focused on the impact of the war on the elderly.

Senior Vice President of the AP, Julie Pace, praised the team’s work, stating that they “create works that are supposed to change the world for the better, or at least not for the worse.” The award-winning AP team’s work in Mariupol helped officials in the city save thousands of civilian lives by pressuring Russians to allow evacuation routes.

During the siege of Mariupol, the AP team faced great danger. They received reports from hospitals treating war wounded, and were given scrubs to wear as camouflage. They also wore blue armbands that identified them as Ukrainians. Chernov ultimately revealed his identity to escape the city and pass 15 Russian checkpoints.

The AP team’s breaking news photography in Ukraine included Maloletka, who won his second Pulitzer of the day. The team also included Bernato Armange, Emilio Morenatti, Felipedana, Nariman He El His Mofti, Rodrigo Abdo, and Vadim Gilda. Eight of the AP’s photographers, including Maloletka, Armange, and Morenatti, became Pulitzer Prize finalists.

The AP’s coverage of protests against economic collapse in Sri Lanka also earned two journalists, Eranga Jayawardena and Rafiq Maqbool, a finalist spot in the breaking news photo category.

J. David Ake, the AP’s director of photography, acknowledged the risks and sacrifices the team made to capture their powerful images, stating that “being there is often dirty, difficult and dangerous.”

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