Statement Regarding Review of the 2020 Anja Awards

On Saturday, August 8th, 2020, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) was notified that one of the images in the portfolio of our 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award winner, photojournalist Masrat Zahra, appeared on a site credited to another photojournalist, who also worked in Kashmir.

The IWMF immediately launched an investigation. We requested the original, raw .jpeg file as well as several images before and after the frame in question. We looked at the original metadata – or information about the image – embedded in the digital file, including the date the image was shot, the type of camera used and other key information.

We interviewed Zahra, twice, as well as the other photographer, both of which were recorded by video. During the investigation, Zahra repeatedly stated she alone captured the image, taken during a funeral in Kashmir. The other photographer explicitly denied taking the image – despite distributing it under his name – and said the image was taken by Zahra. Both photographers stated that Zahra’s images were uploaded to the secondary photojournalist’s laptop the day they were taken: May 3, 2018, and that the secondary photojournalist mistakenly submitted one of Zahra’s images to a photo agency under his name. The other photojournalist also stated that he recently disclosed to a group of his colleagues in Kashmir that it was not his photograph, but rather Zahra’s.

Following the investigation, the IWMF finds no evidence that the image in question was not Zahra’s and reaffirms Zahra’s recognition as its 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award winner.

The IWMF holds itself, its network and its awards programs to the highest principles of photojournalism ethics, fairness and propriety, as outlined in the NPPA Code of Ethics practiced among working photojournalists.

Furthermore, the IWMF continues to support the courageous women on the front lines of journalism and salutes the bravery it takes to bring truth to the world through the practice of storytelling.