Still from 37 Voices

Newest Americans Wins POYi Award for Best Online Storytelling

Rutgers University–Newark’s Newest Americans project has won the 2020-’21 Best Online Storytelling Project of the Year award from Pictures of the Year International (POYi), adding to an impressive array of awards that the group has received since its founding in 2014.

Newest Americans took top honors for its overall body of work this past year, which includes pandemic and non-pandemic-related projects focusing on issues impacting immigrants from Newark and surrounding areas, as well as contributions this diverse population makes in the community.

Newest Americans beat out five other finalists for the award, which falls under in POYi’s Documentary & Editing Division, including projects from The New York Times, The Independent and The San Francisco Chronicle, 

“To be selected as the POYi Storytelling Project of the Year, a category in which other finalists included projects from major newspapers across the country, is an affirmation of the growing national reputation of the Newest Americans project,” said Professor Timothy Raphael, founder and co-director of Newest Americans.

To be selected as the POYi Storytelling Project of the Year is an affirmation of the growing national reputation of the Newest Americans project.

The POYi awards, which recognize excellence in photojournalism, multimedia and visual editing, are administered by the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The judges include renowned editors and producers from national and local media outlets. Recognition from POYi is highly regarded throughout the industry. Established in 1944, POYi is the preeminent photojournalism competition in the country, receiving more than 50,000 submissions per year in its many categories. 

Newest Americans work this year included “Stories From the Pandemic,” a look at how immigrant youth responded to Covid-19, which was featured in The New York Times and on BBC Radio; “Essential Until Expendable,” which examines how Freehold Borough, NJ’s undocumented workforce fought to survive the pandemic and was featured in The Nation; “Ironbound Foodscapes,” which documents the role that food plays in one of Newark’s most vibrant immigrant neighborhoods; and “37 Voices,” in which immigrant domestic workers share their stories.

Newest Americans also did a major relaunch of its website this year, which is partially why the group threw its hat in the ring for the POYi award.

The project’s co-director Julie Winokur, who along with Raphael and her photographer husband Ed Kashi co-founded Newest Americans, sees this latest award as a way to leverage their work for new audiences.

“This recognition elevates Newest Americans to the ranks of major media outlets and acknowledges that the depth of our coverage and creativity in our approach achieves the highest standards of documentary storytelling,” said Winokur. “ It places us on the map within the media profession and can expand our audience exponentially.”

Raphael, a professor in RU-N's Department of Arts, Culture & Media, and Winokur and Kashi, documentary filmmakers who run Talking Eyes Media, founded Newest Americans along with partner VII Photo in 2014, amid a wave of anxiety in the U.S. around immigration, as cities and counties across New Jersey and the country began to shift to minority-majority status. The group functions as a multimedia collaboratory of journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students that produces multimedia stories, gallery and museum exhibits, interactive experiences, and educational curriculum about the immigrant experience in Newark and America. It is run out of RU-N's arts incubator Express Newark.