Chronicle Herald cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon said he’s “surprised and honoured” to place second in the World Press Freedom Awards.
He won for his Oct. 24 cartoon depicting Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, eating the drumstick of a bird, with an empty cage labelled “press freedom.”
“It’s always unexpected when you’re up against worldwide competition,” MacKinnon said.
The annual awards primarily recognize the theme of journalists who deal with “official roadblocks and intimidation.” This year’s theme was “open season on journalists.”
Reporters Without Borders says 80 journalists were killed in 2018. Nearly half of those deaths were in countries not at war. Since 2009, 702 journalists have been killed.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was an inspiration for this year’s theme. He was killed in 2018 by Saudi government agents.
MacKinnon felt the murder of Khashoggi was the “epicentre” of this year’s theme, let alone just an inspiration.
“The case was really the prime example of how journalism is literally under attack by various regimes throughout the world,” he said.
This is the third time MacKinnon has won a World Press Freedom award. He won first place in 2014 and third in 2016.
MacKinnon joins first-place winner Luc Descheemaeker of Belgium and third-place winner Gustavo Caballero Talavera from Mexico.
The Canadian Committee of World Press Freedom said there were 370 submissions from 29 countries.
“Canadian journalists work in a country of relative freedom, but we still have to be vigilant because we sometimes witness glaring examples of that freedom being threatened,” CCWPF President Shawn McCarthy said in a news release.
MacKinnon’s work has gone beyond award recognition. He’s had one of his cartoons added to the United States Library of Congress, something he said “came out of the blue.”
Editorial Cartoon Contest 2019 #trump— luc descheemaeker (@osekoer) May 1, 2019
Luc Descheemaeker, Belgium First prize winner in the 19th editorial cartoon contest of CCWPF Ottawa, Canada
Second prize : Bruce MacKinnon, (Halifax Chronicle-Herald) canada
Third prize : Gustavo Caballero Talavera, Mexico pic.twitter.com/9ZBZ4UsUZm
“It was the last thing I expected,” he said. “It’s a real honour to know your work is making an impact beyond your own borders.”
MacKinnon, who was 14 when he sold his first cartoon, said he’s still not used to having his work publicly acknowledged.