2020 Photo Contest and Digital Storytelling Contest jury chairs announced

Zoeann Murphy and Lekgetho Makola to chair 2020 Contests

The countdown for the 2020 Contests is on! The Photo Contest and Digital Storytelling Contest will open for entries on 2 December, and the campaign to attract a diverse range of entrants from all around the world has started. In the run-up to this important moment, today we are proud to announce the jury chairs of the 10th annual Digital Storytelling Contest and the 63rd annual Photo Contest: Zoeann Murphy, visual journalist at The Washington Post, and Lekgetho Makola, head of Market Photo Workshop.

Zoeann Murphy will chair the 10th annual Digital Storytelling Contest jury

Zoeann Murphy, United States, is a visual journalist on staff at The Washington Post. She reports largely on humanitarian and environmental issues, as well as covering breaking news. In addition to her work as a visual journalist, Murphy also facilitates photography workshops that provide the tools and opportunities for underrepresented communities to share their own stories in their own way.

Murphy was a member of the 2019 Digital Storytelling Contest jury and is excited to return in 2020 as jury chair:

“I was very impressed by the work we saw last year. The journalistic integrity and production quality of the pieces we reviewed were inspirational. This year I’d love to more entries by digital storytellers covering their own communities, maybe from local news organizations or local visual journalists partnering with larger national and international media organizations. I also hope to continue seeing strong accountability pieces that courageously speak truth to power.”

Murphy encourages all digital storytellers to enter the contest:

“I think some digital storytellers might be intimidated to enter their work. I hope they do it anyway. If you made something you think is meaningful – enter it. The contest is free to enter. The more diverse viewpoints in the work we see the better.”

“Each piece is watched with so much respect for the people who created it. The amount of good digital storytelling being produced right now is mind-blowing and it’s an important contribution to democracy. I want entrants to know how valued their work is,” she adds.

Zoeann Murphy will be joined by a group of professionals in Amsterdam in February 2020 to judge the entries, to be announced later this year.

Lekgetho Makola will chair the 63rd annual Photo Contest jury

Lekgetho Makola, South Africa, is the head of Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, a space for culture and development through photography, and is an active member of the virtual continental network Centers of Learning for Photography in Africa.

He reflects on his role as 2020 Photo Contest jury chair:

“It is a significant responsibility to have an oversight of the jury and ensure that the judging process goes as smooth as possible, but also that a state of critical engagement accounting for diversity is allowed, in order to respond to submissions in the most ethical manner and in a way that reflects the global society.

This won’t be the first time Makola participates in the World Press Photo Contest a jury member. In 2019, he was part of the Portraits specialized jury. He encourages photographers coming from countries currently underrepresented in the contests to enter the 2020 Photo Contest.

“I would love to see more submissions by photographers from outside of Europe and North America and more time for jury members to share views on diversity before the judging commences. I strongly believe there is a lot to learn from each other in that process, and a lot to unlearn concerning certain socially constructed views on the practice,” he explains.

The judging process for the 2020 Photo Contest involves four specialized juries and a general jury. It will take place in several rounds over a three-week period during January and February 2020.

“The process is intense. Thousands of images to go through in a limited amount of time. Images have no names attached to them, so you don’t know who made the photograph and where the photographer is from. Each jury member is given an opportunity to engage without fear of favor,” explains Makola.

The full jury will be announced later this year.

Celebrating 10 Years of the Digital Storytelling Contest

This Digital Storytelling Contest edition will be a special one, as 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the competition. The contest, open to short documentary film and interactive productions, was launched in 2011 as ‘Multimedia Contest’ to recognize and reward forms of visual storytelling enabled by digital technologies. These technologies have transformed the way we produce and consume stories and continue to shape the future of the media economy.

“Advancements in technology have resulted in increasingly sophisticated experimentation, especially when it comes to innovative and immersive storytelling. This has resulted in powerful collaborations between filmmakers, photographers, writers, designers, graphic artists, and other journalists. Also, some of the tools to tell visual stories are becoming more accessible, allowing for a wider range of viewpoints and a more accurate picture of world events,” explains Murphy.

In its first decade, the contest has grown from 42 nominations in 2011 to 300 entries in 2019, and awards have changed in response to developments in the industry. Last year, for the 2019 Digital Storytelling Contest, the World Press Photo Foundation introduced two headline awards, the World Press Photo Interactive of the Year and the World Press Photo Online Video of the Year.

Entries open on 2 December 2019

Both the 2020 Digital Storytelling Contest and 2020 Photo Contest will open for submissions on 2 December 2019. Entering the contests is free and open to all professional visual journalists around the world.

Like last year, the 2020 Contests majors awards are the ‘World Press Photo of the Year’ and the ‘World Press Photo Story of the Year’ for the Photo Contest; and ‘World Press Photo Interactive of the Year’ and the ‘World Press Photo Online Video of the Year’ for the Digital Storytelling Contest. These awards carry a cash prize of €10,000 each, among other prizes. 

All contest winners will share in prizes totalling more than €130,000 in value.

Nominees for both contests will be announced on 25 February 2020, and the winners will be made public during the Awards Show on 16 April 2020.


Image credits (left to right):

Zoeann Murphy by © Sarah Voisen
Lekgetho Makola by © Thandile Zwelibanzi