WATERVILLE, Maine — Colby College will honor two Ukrainian photojournalists for their coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly the horrors that unfolded in Mariupol, for the first time in its decades-long history of awarding the Lovejoy Award for Courage in Journalism.
Writer and visual journalist Mstyslav Chernov and photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka, who covered the full-scale invasion for the Associated Press, will receive the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for Courage in Journalism during an event at 4 p.m. Friday in Lorimer Chapel on the college’s campus.
Colby College has granted the Lovejoy Award to journalists around the world each year since 1952, though it has never focused on photojournalism specifically. This year, the prestigious award will celebrate Chernov’s and Maloletka’s bravery and work as they embedded themselves in Mariupol, a city in eastern Ukraine, and documented its siege by Russian troops. An article, called “20 days in Mariupol: the team that documented the city’s agony” and published in March, recounted their experience.
“The officer, who had once begged us to show the world his dying city, now pleaded with us to go,” Chernov told AP correspondent Lori Hinnant in his first-person account, as a Ukrainian policeman tried to help them. “He nudged us toward the thousands of battered cars preparing to leave Mariupol. It was March 15. We had no idea if we would make it out alive.”
The award is named after Lovejoy, who was from Albion and was crowned the college’s class poet and valedictorian in 1862. His anti-slavery editorials published in the St. Louis Observer, a religious newspaper, led to his death, according to the college.
John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, referred to Lovejoy as America’s first martyr to freedom of the press after he was shot and killed by a mob in November 1837.
Chernov and Maloletka knew that showing the world what was happening in Mariupol was a cause worthy of the ultimate sacrifice, Colby College President David Greene said.
“Their selflessness in the face of extreme danger comes through in every photograph, video and personal account of the Russian invasion and will forever be part of the history of this war,” he said.
Chernov, who grew up in Kharkiv, 20 miles from the Russian border, has covered conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine, including the country’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity and the war in Donbas. He won two Royal Television Society awards for his coverage of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in 2014.
Chernov is president of the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers and produced photography exhibitions The Dreaming Hours and The Media Machine, according to information provided by the college.
Maloletka, from Berdyansk, a city in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, has documented the Euromaidan revolution since 2013 and conflicts in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. In 2015, he was selected to participate in the Eddie Adams Workshop, a photojournalism program in New York.
The duo has received other awards, such as the French Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award and Deutsche Welle’s Freedom of Speech Award in Bonn, Germany, among others. The PBS investigative series Frontline and the Associated Press collaborated on two documentary specials that investigate the toll of Russia’s war on Ukraine, one of which focuses on Mariupol through the lens of Chernov.
An eight-member committee selects the Lovejoy Award winner each year.
Chernov’s first-person account from inside Mariupol and the photographs that he and Maloletka captured when other journalists had left define courage, said Martin Kaiser, committee chairperson and retired editor and senior vice president of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Kaiser now teaches at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
“They knew if they left Mariupol, there would be no one to document the atrocities and destruction,” he said. “They brought the world’s attention to Mariupol.”
The award ceremony is free and open to the public. Chernov and Maloletka will discuss their work with Brian Carovillano of NBC, former vice president of news at the Associated Press and Colby alumnus who oversaw the winners’ recent work. Green will present the awards.