Laurent Van Der Stockt wins Visa d’Or News Award

“[I think] the jury made the choice to award a journalism prize more than a photographic one,” said photographer Laurent Van Der Stockt when he received the 2013 Visa d’Or News Award at the 25th Visa pour l’Image photojournalism festival. “I say this because the G20 is meeting now, and I have the feeling that these country leaders don’t have real public support to force them towards action. I feel that the majority of people are against a military intervention.”

Van Der Stockt has been awarded the Visa d’Or, which comes with a €8000 cash prize and is supported by Paris Match, for a body of work shot in Syria for Le Monde. The report was published earlier this year and was co-authored by Jean-Philippe Rémy. It exposed, for the first time, the use of chemical weapons in the war-torn country.

Van Der Stockt’s work was selected from a shortlist that also included Reuters’ Goran Tomasevic, Associated Press’ Bernat Armangué and Agence France-Presse’s Phil Moore.

This year’s jury included Monica Allende of The Sunday Times Magazine, Barbara Clément of Elle magazine, Cyril Drouhet of Le Figaro Magazine, Jérôme Huffer of Paris Match, Andrei Polikanov of Russian Reporter Magazine, Marc Simon of VSD, Ryuichi Hirokawa of Days Japan and BJP’s Olivier Laurent.

At a ceremony in Perpignan, France, Van Der Stockt addresses the role of photojournalists in shaping public opinion. “Journalism has an important role to play,” he said. “It influences public opinion, and public opinion pushes the leaders of this world to go in a certain direction. This is a lot of blah-blah, but there are people dying, it’s a massacre there, and it shows that it’s an important job.”

He added that if the jury selected his work for its journalistic value over aesthetics – “Goran’s photos are just astonishing,” he explained – “then maybe it’s sending an interesting message to young photographers, to journalists and to newsrooms.”

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