The Ed Cunningham Award 2010

In “Troubled Spirits,” Alma Guillermoprieto is working at top form and with enough length to show what she can do in this piece about how gruesome drug violence and economic decline in Mexico underlie an expansion of cults devoted to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of desperate causes, and La Santa Muerte (Holy Death), guardian of the most defenseless, the worst of sinners and also honored by convicts and killers, or celebrating the mythical bandit Jesus Malverde, now a “narco-saint.” The reporting from within Mexico’s prisons and shrines is outstanding, the topic fresh and vital. The judges found the care and intelligence of her work a thrill to read.

Story photo slideshow