Ibero-American journalists receive prizes in Spain

Madrid, Mar 21 (EFE).- News professionals from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Spain received their King of Spain International Journalism Prizes here Thursday in a ceremony presided over by Queen Sofia and also attended by Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

Colombia's Julio Sanchez Cristo and Jose Antonio Sanchez, Mexico's Leopoldo Gomez Gonzalez and Bernardo Gomez Martinez, Brazil's Wilton de Sousa Junior, and Spanish reporters Antonio Baquero, Michele Catanzaro and Angela Biesot had been announced as this year's winners in January.

The prizes - organized annually by Agencia Efe, Spain's international news agency; and Spain's State Secretariat for International Cooperation and Ibero-America - are given out in five main categories: Press, Radio, Television, Photojournalism and Digital Journalism.

Sanchez Cristo garnered the Radio prize for an exclusive interview with the prostitute at the center of a scandal involving U.S. Secret Service agents who were in Cartagena to prepare for a visit by President Barack Obama.

Honors in the Television category went to Gomez Martinez and Gomez Gonzalez, two executives of Mexico's Televisa, for a production about the 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution.

De Sousa Junior's image of a protest in Rio de Janeiro was selected for the Photojournalism prize.

Jose Antonio Sanchez picked up the award for Digital Journalism for a multimedia piece about threats to Bogota's water supply published on the Web site of Colombian daily El Tiempo.

Baquero, Catanzaro and Biesot, three reporters with Spain's El Periodico de Cataluña newspaper, earned the Press prize for investigative journalism that rescued an innocent man from a judicial nightmare.

Peru's Jack Lo Lau, meanwhile, received the Special Ibero-American Prize for Environmental Journalism for coverage of issues related to garbage, and the Don Quixote award was conferred on Argentina's Federico Bianchini for quality writing on the strength of his article about Supreme Court Justice Raul Zaffaroni.

"Journalism builds new bridges" in relations between Spain and Latin America, Saenz de Santamaria said during the ceremony at the Casa de America in Madrid.

Journalism helps "preserve freedom" and this year's award recipients are just "the tip of the iceberg of the work that's being done," Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation and Ibero-America Jesus Gracia said.

Agencia Efe CEO Jose Antonio Vera, for his part, said of the awards that "there are no prizes that are more important, more esteemed, nor more universal."

To mark the 30th edition of these prizes, Agencia Efe published a book titled "Kings of Journalism" that contains profiles of all of the award's honorees spanning three decades, Vera said.

King Juan Carlos I had presided over this ceremony with his wife in previous editions, but he is currently recovering from a back hernia operation he underwent on March 3 and was unable to attend this year.

Sponsored by Spanish construction giant OHL, each of the six journalism prizes comes with 6,000 euros ($7,740).