The Digital Journalist
World Press Photo Awards for 2006
March 2007

by Ron Steinman

The World Press Photo Awards is a contest open to professional photographers, newspapers, magazines and photo agencies all over the world. The single criterion is that the judges look at all the submissions and choose the best of the year in 10 categories: spot news, people in the news, sports action, sports features, contemporary issues, daily life, nature, art and entertainment and portraits. There are awards in each group for single photos and photos put together to make what World Press calls stories. The jury's mandate is to give the awards based on the news value of a photograph and the photojournalist's creative skills.

There were 78,083 images entered in the contest. The jury had to choose the best of those pictures submitted by 4,460 photographers from 124 countries with a substantial, inexplicable increase of entries from Central and South America. That made for a formidable number of images for the jury to look at and then decide on a grand prizewinner along with winners in each of the categories. The awards went to 58 photographers from 23 countries. This wide-ranging contest potentially covers everything that a photojournalist sees through the lens of his or her camera. That is why it is important.

For more details, go to and follow the prompts to view all winners in all categories.

The World Press Photo of the Year Award for 2006 went to Spencer Platt, an American with the Getty Images photo agency. His picture, taken on August 15, 2006, shows a group of young Lebanese driving through a partially destroyed neighborhood in Beirut after a recent bombing by Israel and immediately after the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. Jury chair Michele McNally of The New York Times wanted the jury to look for a definitive image that told a historical, psychological and esthetic story. She says, "Spencer Platt's picture does all that. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious." Platt will receive a prize of almost $20,000.

An exhibit of all the photos will open in Amsterdam at the end of April. It will then travel to 85 different places so people everywhere can get a look at the prizewinners.

I recall seeing a few of these photos during the year, but with so much information demanding my attention, the impression they left was fleeting. There is nothing better than seeing some of them again in one place and then realizing how many I have not seen until now. These photographs give us an idea of how photojournalists around the world see the world in which they live, in many cases, a world we here in America do not normally see. Not all the photos are of the same quality. Nor will these in our portfolio satisfy everyone who views them. But they are worth a look, so here are some of the winning photos in most of the categories as defined by World Press Photos.

© Ron Steinman

Ron Steinman, Executive Editor of The Digital Journalist, is an award-winning producer of television news and documentaries. He was NBC's bureau chief in Saigon during the Vietnam War. He is also an author and freelance documentarian through his company, Douglas/Steinman Productions. Buy Ron Steinman's book: Inside Television's First War.