French-Lebanese reporter Caroline Hayek was recently awarded the Albert-Londres Prize for her stellar series of reports about life in Lebanon after the Beirut port blasts on August 4, 2020. The talented journalist, who works for the only Lebanese French-language daily, “L'Orient-Le Jour,” was in Paris to receive the highest French journalism award, considered the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.
French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin was in attendance as the Beirut-raised Hayek received the accolade for the Best Reporter In The Written Press category at the National Library of France.
“What was most logical for me was to tell the story of the explosion through the Syrian refugees who were also affected. These are people who fled the war, fled the horror, who live in slums, who are considered second-class citizens in Lebanon and who have lost a wife, a brother, or find themselves injured by the explosion,” “L'Orient-Le Jour” reported Hayek as saying during her acceptance speech.
"I received this award for articles on Lebanon, but I think a lot about the Syrians tonight. I covered the Syrian conflict from Beirut for six years, essentially giving a voice to all those whose voices were not heard enough. Telling their lives, their survival, but also their little daily anecdotes was my biggest school,” the very moved reporter said.
Hayek, who said she took a life-changing decision and started working as a journalist for “L'Orient-Le Jour” by chance seven years ago, went on to dedicate the award to the Lebanese, the Syrians and her newspaper, which launched in 1971.
The gifted wordsmith was in France when the pair of explosions, the second much bigger than the first, struck the city of Beirut, causing at least 218 deaths and 7,000 injuries, and leaving around 300,000 instantly homeless. Hayek, who was working in the international department, came back as soon as she could and went on to write the award-winning series of articles, which included evocative titles “Walk in a Decaying Beirut," "The First Days of the Rest of their Lives” and "They Fled the War in Syria ... They Died in the Explosions in Beirut."
Like all the winners of the Albert-Londres Prize, Hayek won an endowment of 3,000 euros. Meanwhile, the Best Reporting Book category went to Emilienne Malfatto for “The Snakes will Come for You,” and Léo Mattei and Alex Gohari won the Best Audiovisual Report category for “On the Line, the Expelled from America.”
About The Albert-Londres Prize
The most prestigious journalism award in France was created in 1932 and first granted in 1933. An homage to the French journalist Albert Londres, father of the great modern reportage, the prize is given to three laureates, who have to be under 41 years old, each year. The three categories are Best Reporter in the Written Press, Best Audiovisual Reporter and Best Reporting Book.
This year, the 83rd edition, the award broke a record for the number of applications, with no less than 90 productions applying for the Best Reporter in the Written Press category, 19 books and 35 audiovisual reports.