25. May 2024

True Story Award

The winners of the True Story Award 2024 were announced in Bern on Friday evening. Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider opened the award ceremony in front of 300 guests, including the 36 nominated reporters. Afterwards, cartoonist Patrick Chappatte outlined the current state of the global media landscape in an exciting keynote speech. The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the three award winners by the main jury.

Rahul Bhatia (center), winner first price, and Juan José Martinez d'Aubuisson (left), winner third price, with Host Carolin Roth at the True Story Award 2024.

First prize goes to a work that stands out for its originality, finesse and scrupulous attention to detail. A man has seen, and he wants to testify, to name names. But he is only one man, and his words are not listened to by the police or the courts. We are in India, the land of exclusion. The man persists: he believes in justice and he will not give in. For two years, the journalist follows the man, investigating what he has seen, his family, his environment and his legal action. In small, elegant and meaningful strokes, he paints a nuanced portrait of a country. The world's most populous country, with 1.4 billion inhabitants. One of the most complex and difficult to tell. Rahul Bhatia brilliantly wins first prize for The Trials of an Indian Witness: How a Muslim Man was caught in a Legal Nightmare.

Second prize is awarded to a story that illustrates the power of persistent digging. A deeply reported expose of wrongdoing against some of society's most vulnerable members, and the govt failure to protect them. Elegantly written, revealing layers of endemic institutionalized hypocrisy and social duplicity. Thought-provoking in its complexity and presentation of contradictions, second prize goes to the story of a migrant child laborer in a slaughterhouse in the US who is caught in an exploitative system he can't escape. Congratulations to Hannah Dreier for The Kids on the Night Shift.

The third prize goes to a harrowing, unforgettable piece that thrusts us directly into the bloodstained cell-blocks of a Honduran women's prison. The journalist vividly reconstructs a massacre of forty-six female prisoners at the hands of rival inmates. Through a combination of courageous reporting inside the criminal underground and firsthand interviews with the women involved, the author provides us with an extraordinary ground-level view of Latin America's chronic problems of violence, corruption and social inequality. The third price goes to Juan José Martinez d'Aubuisson, for We, The Massacred.

The winners beat out 33 other nominees present in Bern. In total, 942 entries were submitted from 101 countries in 18 languages. All nominees will present their work to the public at 40 events in the heart of Bern on Saturday and Sunday at the True Story Festival.

The True Story Award is the first globally-oriented journalism award, aiming to set an example and motivate journalists all over the world. Furthermore, its aim is to make reporters' voices known beyond the borders of their home countries, and in doing so, to increase the diversity of perspectives offered in the media. The True Story Award is conferred by an independent foundation and honors the work of reporters who have distinguished themselves by the depth of their research, the quality of their journalism and its social relevance.

See below for the full list of winners.

List of winners

Rahul Bhatia
The Trials of an Indian Witness: How a Muslim Man was caught in a Legal Nightmare
Original Language: English
First Published: Guardian Long Read, United Kingdom, March 2, 2023

Hannah Dreier
The Kids on the Night Shift
Original Language: English
First Published: The New York Times Magazine, USA, September 25, 2023

Juan José Martínez d'Aubuisson
We, The Massacred
Original Language: Spanish
First Published: Redacción Regional, El Salvador, September 14, 2023

Honorable Mentions 2024
Andreas Babst (Switzerland), Inside the Taliban's Luxury Hotel; Elaheh Mohammadi (Iran), A Country's Grief; Facundo Fernández Barrio, Miriam Lewin (Argentina) The "Happiest Days" of Argentina's Repressors; Nemanja Rujević, Ingrid Gercama, Nathalie Bertrams, Tristen Taylor (Serbia), Parrots as valuable as Cocaine