Journalists Among Those Honored By MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Grants”

mitchell2.JPGA photojournalist and an investigative reporter are among the 24 MacArthur Fellows awarded $500,000 in “no strings attached” funding over the next five years.

Earlier today, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced its 2009 fellows — a list that includes photographer Lynsey Addario and Jerry Mitchell, a reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

Addario, a photojournalist based in Istanbul, was chosen by the MacArhtur Foundation for her coverage of and focus on places in the midst of unrest, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur:

“A regular theme in Addario’s work is capturing the lives of women in male-dominated societies. Her most recent project involves photographing survivors of gender-based violence in the Congo and is part of a traveling exhibition intended to increase awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses taking place there. Addario’s dedication to demystifying foreign cultures and exposing the tragic consequences of human conflict is drawing much-needed attention to conflict zones around the world and providing a valuable historical record for future generations.”

addario.JPGYou can see more of Addario’s work here.

Mitchell was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for his work uncovering documents and evidence about Civil Rights era murders including the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medger Evers and the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala. church that killed four girls. Mitchell’s work has led to new trials and convictions for previously unpunished criminals. Added the foundation:

“His investment of time and painstakingly detailed research has also produced a broad range of reports on such subjects as racial reconciliation in the South and judicial bribes and chicanery in Mississippi, as well as a series on his own family’s battle against a rare genetic ailment. In an era when long-term investigative reporting is more the exception than the rule, Mitchell’s life and work serve as an example of how a journalist willing to take risks and unsettle waters can make a difference in the pursuit of justice.”

Other winners of the prestigious “genius grant” include mixed media artist Mark Bradford; novelist Edwidge Danticat; Deborah Eisenberg, a short story writer; filmmaker James Longley; and poet Heather McHugh.

After the jump, watch a video of Mitchell talking about his work and what it means to win a MacArthur Fellowship.

(Photos courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)