Eyewitness: Who Tells the Stories of Our Time?
Photograph by Joana Toro
Eli Hiller, Sarahbeth Maney, and Joana Toro are the recipients of the inaugural Eyewitness Photojournalism Grant from the Pulitzer Center and Diversify Photo, launched in 2020. It is designed to support underreported stories by photojournalists historically underrepresented in the American press. The 2021 Eyewitness Grant call for proposals will launch during Photoville. For more information on how to apply visit: pulitzercenter.org/eyewitness.
Toro’s project documents the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a population in the center of New York City: the costumed performers dressed as Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Batman, and other entertainment icons—a job she once held. The photography offers a lens into the lives of these entertainers when the crowds in Times Square disappeared during the 2020 pandemic.
Maney documented Sophia Tupuola, a first-generation Samoan American who navigated housing insecurity, marched for racial justice, and prepared to give birth to her first child during the coronavirus pandemic. This work focuses on the challenges of giving birth as a woman of color and surviving the impacts of generational trauma.
Hiller’s work documents several health care professionals supporting vulnerable populations of the opioid crisis in Ohio. Hiller focuses on how these professionals are leveraging their personal journeys through drug addiction to battle isolation and hardships.
About The Artists
Eli Hiller is a Filipino American documentary filmmaker and photographer who has covered refugee crises, housing disparities, social movements, and environmental justice in North America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. After graduating from Ohio University in 2016 with a double major in geography and photojournalism, Hiller moved to the Philippines for three years. While there, he engaged with artists across mediums for collaborative projects. Hiller’s journalism and filmmaking earned him a DMZ Documentary Development Grant (2019) and the Eyewitness Photojournalism Grant from the Pulitzer Center (2020). He lives in Columbus, Ohio, covering local movements, and is in pre-production for “Halfie,” a documentary unpacking his journey of finding his siblings.
Sarahbeth Maney is a 2021-2022 photography fellow at the New York Times‘ Washington, D.C. bureau. Her personal work focuses on topics related to education, disability, and inequalities that disproportionately impact Black and brown communities. Most recently, she documented the Black Lives Matter movement and the California wildfire season. In addition, she filmed a short documentary following Ahmet Ustunel, the first blind person to kayak independently from Asia to Europe using navigational prototype technology. Maney graduated from San Francisco State University in 2019 with a degree in photojournalism, and has interned at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Flint Journal in Michigan. Her photography has been published by TIME, Vanity Fair, Apple, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Maney is a member of Diversify Photo, the National Association of Black Journalists, Authority Collective, and Black Women Photographers.
Joana Toro is a self-taught Colombian photographer based in New York City and Bogotá, Colombia. Her work explores issues of immigration, human rights, and identity and has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, World Press Photo Witness, Open Society Foundations, and PhotoWorld China Magazine, among others. In 2019, Toro published her first book, “Hello I Am Kitty” (Tragaluz, Colombia, 2019). “Hello I Am Kitty” was exhibited at the Gabriel Garcia Marquez journalism festival in Medellin, Colombia. In 2020, an edition of prints from “Hello I Am Kitty” was acquired by the Library of Congress. Toro’s photo essays have been exhibited at international photo festivals such as Les Femmes s’exposent in France, GuatePhoto in Guatemala, Just Another Festival in India, and the International Photography Festival in China.
About The Organization
The Pulitzer Center raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of education and public outreach. We support nearly 200 reporting projects a year, in partnership with more than 150 news organizations with an increasing focus on regional and local outlets, to ensure we are reaching diverse audiences. We are raising awareness of the interconnected nature of the greatest challenges of our times and pointing to possible solutions. We serve global public-interest journalism by engaging wide audiences on deeply reported topics, and inspiring the next generation to value credible news and cross-cultural understanding.
Diversify Photo is a community of BIPOC and non-Western photographers, editors, and visual producers working to break with the predominantly colonial and patriarchal eye through which history and the mass media have seen and recorded the images of our time. Our international online database is used by editors at major media outlets seeking to diversify their rosters of visual storytellers. We also create networking, exhibiting, speaking, community-building, and resource-sharing opportunities for our members.