Filipina photojournalist Cheryl Diaz Meyer sweeps coveted White House Awards

by Ella Alexander
Jan 24, 2018
US-based photojournalist Cheryl Diaz Meyer was born in Quezon City, Philippines.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Cheryl Diaz Meyer was honored by the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) during The Eyes of History contests on January 21.

According to WHNPA, "The Eyes of History contests are held annually to select the best in visual journalism across still, video, and multimedia disciplines."

The judges for still photography were Barry Arthur of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jessica Rinaldi of The Boston Globe, and 40-year veteran photojournalist Rick Wilking.

Diaz Meyer won all the awards in the International News category, namely First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and two Awards of Excellence.

It was her coverage of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees that swept all the awards.

Meyer won First Place for her photo of Rohingya refugee, Anwara Nurhassan, where she takes a boat from Chalpuridip, Bangladesh, as she continues her journey to refugee camps further inland on October 3, 2017.

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Meanwhile, Meyer won Second Place for capturing the grief-stricken faces of the Rohingya refugees.

Over half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to date in this latest spate of violence; 20,000 alone crossed the borders on October 16, while another 100,000 wait on the border of Myanmar.

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The gripping images capture the plight of the refugees as they flee to Bangladesh. See them all here.

The visual journalist spoke about her landslide win: "Thank you to the judges of the White House News Photographers Association for this immense honor. I've never been awarded an entire category in any competition, and I'm deeply moved.

"I hope this increases awareness for the plight of the Rohingya refugees, who Bangladesh wants to repatriate to Myanmar."

Diaz Meyer was born in Quezon City, Philippines.

At 13, she moved to the United States, where she is currently based.

After working as a photography intern for the Washington Post, Diaz Meyer became a staff photographer for The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Eventually, she moved to The Dallas Morning News, where she worked as a senior staff photographer.

Currently, she is a freelance photojournalist.

Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Marie Claire, and other publications worldwide.

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She won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2004 for her work with David Leeson during the Iraq war.

During her time at The Dallas Morning News, Diaz Meyer was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2017, as a visual editor for McClatchy's Washington Bureau, she was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for their work on the Panama Papers.

On why she decided to be a photojournalist, she told in a2009 interview, "I love the creative process of photography, the discovery, the joy of taking what the eye sees and making it new.

"Ultimately, photography is really an exploration of the self—the photographer seeks to reveal her own inner truth using the camera as her tool," she said.

In a 2009 interview with former Washington Post editor John Temple, she advised those who want to pursue a life in journalism: "Journalism is a calling, and if you truly feel the call, follow your heart.

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"Because although these are painfully challenging times, you will know no other job more fulfilling and adventuresome."

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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