Patricia Evangelista Wins The New York Public Library’s 2024 Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism

Evangelista’s book, Some People Need Killing, is a coming of age story in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines

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May 2, 2024—The New York Public Library announced today that Patricia Evangelista is the winner of its 2024 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism for her book Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country. 

Patricia Evangelista came of age in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines. Three decades later, faced with mounting inequality, the nation confronted the vulnerability of its democratic institutions under the regime of strongman Rodrigo Duterte. Some People Need Killing is Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war. For six years, she documented the killings carried out by the police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs—a crusade that has led to the slaughter of thousands. The journalist immersed herself in the world of the killers and survivors and vividly captured the atmosphere of terror created when an elected president decides that some lives are worth less than others. 

Patricia Evangelista is a trauma journalist and former investigative reporter for the Philippine news company Rappler. Her reporting on armed conflict and disaster was awarded the Kate Webb Prize for exceptional journalism in dangerous conditions. She was a Headlands Artist in Residence, a New America ASU Future Security Fellow, and a fellow of the Logan Nonfiction Program, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Her work has earned local and international acclaim. She lives in Manila. 

The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Award recognizes works written by working journalists that raise awareness about current events or issues of global or national significance. Winners of the award receive a $15,000 prize. Previous winners include last year’s winner Ben Rawlence, Andrea Elliot, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Shane Bauer

All nominated books were published in 2023 and were selected by an 11-person Library Review Committee, which read over 110 books submitted by publishers. The other four finalists were: 

  • Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of our Planet by Ben Goldfarb (W.W Norton) 
  • How to Make a Killing: Blood, Death, and Dollars in American Medicine by Tom Mueller (W.W Norton) 
  • The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell (Hachette) 
  • We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian (Macmillan) 

The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1987 through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein in honor of journalists and their important role in drawing public attention to current issues, events, or policies. 

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