Michel du Cille, a photojournalist at The Washington Post who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times for his esteemed work, died Dec. 11 of an apparent heart attack while on assignment in Liberia. He was 58.
Du Cille recently returned to the country after a month-long break. He spent September in Monrovia chronicling the effects of the Ebola virus on the country and its people. He was scheduled to teach a journalism workshop at Syracuse University in October but was abruptly disinvited by university officials who feared exposure to the deadly virus. An angry Du Cille — who had completed a 21-day, CDC-sanctioned waiting period and was symptom-free — called the action “a missed opportunity to share real-world experiences with future media professionals.”
Later that month, he penned a first-person account of his experiences in the Post, explaining the importance of covering the crisis.
“I believe that the world must see the horrible and dehumanizing effects of Ebola,” he said. “The story must be told; so one moves around with tender care, gingerly, without extreme intrusion.”
Du Cille’s first Pulitzer was won in 1985 while he worked at The Miami Herald. He and fellow staff photographer Carol Guzy shared the award for their coverage of a volcano eruption in Colombia. Two years later, he won a second Pulitzer for chronicling the effects of crack cocaine on the Miami community.
In 1988 du Cille joined the Post, where he was a photo editor, director of photography and an assistant managing editor. After several years in management, he chose to return to the field as a photographer. In 2008, he was awarded a third Pulitzer as part of an investigative series on the harsh conditions and treatment of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He shared the award with Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull.
Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, issued a statement that summed up the feelings of du Cille’s friends and colleagues.
“We are all heartbroken. We have a lost a beloved colleague and one of the world’s most accomplished photographers,” he said.
Du Cille is survived by two children from an earlier marriage, and his wife, Nikki Kahn, also a Pulitzer Prize-winning Post photographer.