The New Yorker’s Luke Mogelson and Masha Gessen Win Polk Awards

Two New Yorker writers were announced on Monday as winners of this year’s Polk Awards in Journalism, which honor exemplary achievement in journalism. Luke Mogelson, a contributing writer, was recognized in the Magazine Reporting category for “Underworld,” a dispatch from the trenches in Ukraine’s Donbas region, where soldiers face missiles, grenades, helicopter fire, and other dangers as they defend their country from Russia. Gessen, a staff writer, received the prize in the Commentary category for “In the Shadow of the Holocaust,” a personal and historical reflection on how the genocide is remembered, and its role in the politics of the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, particularly during the current conflict in Gaza and Israel.

Mogelson’s latest Polk Award marks his third in four years. To report “Underworld,” Mogelson circumvented Ukraine’s military bureaucracy and embedded with a brigade, armed only with a GoPro and a notebook. The resulting article, published online as “Two Weeks at the Front in Ukraine,” captures the tense interplay among soldiers, also placing the experiences of ordinary citizens at the center of the story. Mogelson, a New Yorker contributor since 2013, won a 2020 Polk Award for his coverage of that year’s seismic unrest in the United States. In 2022, he received the Polk Awards’ inaugural Sydney H. Schanberg Prize for his reporting from the Capitol attack on January 6th.

Masha Gessen.Photograph by Lena Di

Gessen, who joined the New Yorker staff in 2017, was honored for their analysis of the war in Gaza and Israel and how it has been shaped by the memory of the Holocaust, with sweeping consequences for residents of both.

New Yorker writers and editors have won twenty-five previous Polk Awards, which are named in honor of George Polk, a CBS News correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the civil war in Greece. This year’s ceremony, in April, will celebrate the Awards’ seventy-fifth anniversary.

Read the Winning Stories

A Ukrainian sniper, positioned in a trench, aims a rifle.

In the trenches in the Donbas, infantrymen face unrelenting horrors, from missiles to grenades to helicopter fire.

A black-and-white photo of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, Germany.

How the politics of memory in Europe obscures what we see in Israel and Gaza today.

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