Nick Ut receives AAJA Lifetime Achievement Award

1972. Trangbang, South Vietnam, 8 June 1972. Phan Thi Kim Phuc (center) flees from the scene where South Vietnamese planes have mistakenly dropped napalm. Photo Credit: (Nick) Ut Cong Huynh, Vietnam, The Associated Press.

By Steven Chin

Associated Press photographer Nick Ut has been chosen to receive this year’s Asian American Journalism Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

The AAJA honor is given to an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment to the principles of journalism over the course of a life’s work. It is the highest award AAJA can give to an individual.

Ut, is perhaps best known for his 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning image of 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc as she ran naked and screaming toward the camera, her skin badly burned from a napalm attack on her village during the Vietnam War. Nick rushed the girl to the hospital, saving her life. The two are close friends to this day.

Nick Ut

Nick’s powerful image made photographic history and remains, 38 years later, one of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Nick received every major photographic award for this singular image, including the World Press Photo, Sigma Delta Chi, Overseas Press Club, National Press Club, and the George Polk Memorial Award.

As a Vietnam Reporting Project fellow, Ut traveled to Vietnam in October 2010 with The Plain Dealer’s Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz. His photographs are part of a Plain Dealer six-part special report called “Unfinished Business: Suffering and sickness in the endless wake of Agent Orange,” which was published January 30, 2011.

Nick joined the Associated Press in 1966, when he was 16, following the death of his older brother, Huynh Thanh My, an AP photographer who was killed in combat the year before. Nick himself was wounded three times during his coverage of the war. Since the war ended in 1975, Nick has worked for the Associated Press in Tokyo, South Korea, Hanoi, where he opened the bureau in 1993, and Los Angeles, where he currently resides with his family.

Established in 1989, the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes those who have demonstrated courage and commitment to the principles of journalism over the course of a life’s work, as well as dedication to issues important to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

The award will be presented on Saturday, August 13, 2011 at its 22nd Annual National Convention Gala Scholarship and Awards Banquet in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Tickets are free to convention registrants and will be sold on-site (based on availability) at the convention registration kiosk and on the night of the event for non-registrants.

About Steven Chin

Steven Chin is the web editor for the Vietnam Reporting Project and principal of MKmedia, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting firm that provides Web development, content and social media strategies to companies and nonprofit organizations.

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