AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A U.S. photographer won the top prize in the World Press Photo competition Friday with an image of a police officer searching a debris-strewn home in Cleveland, Ohio to ensure evicted residents had left after a mortgage foreclosure.
Anthony Suau's winning photo for Time magazine shows the officer, handgun drawn, peering into an open doorway inside the house, which is filled with overturned furniture and boxes.
The image, shot on March 26, illustrates the economic crisis that began with the U.S. housing market and spread around the globe.
"The strength of the picture is in its opposites. It's a double entendre," said jury chairwoman MaryAnne Golon. "Now war in its classic sense is coming into people's houses because they can't pay their mortgages."
She said that the photo was both excellent and addressed what the jury saw as the most important global issue of 2008.
Other jury members noted that people around the world could identify with the evicted family. Juror Ayperi Ecer said the image "visually is both clear and complex. ... 2008 is the year of the end of a dominant economic system."
Nearly 5,600 photographers of 124 nationalities submitted images for journalism's most prestigious photo contest. The jury spent 13 days this month evaluating more than 96,000 photos.
The jury awarded prizes in 20 categories to 64 photographers from 27 countries. Among major news organizations, Agence France-Presse, Time and Reuters each won three awards.
The Associated Press won one award and an honorable mention.
The winner in the General News Singles category, by Brazilian photographer Luiz Vasconcelos, was another eviction scene showing a woman holding her naked child while being pushed away from her home by a line of riot police.
The winning photographer in the Spot News Singles, China's Chen Quinggang, shot a series of the aftermath of an earthquake in Beichuan County. In one arresting image, rescue workers in green camouflage pull a survivor from the rubble. The victim, on a stretcher in the center of the scene, is dressed in white, with a white blanket and blood around his neck.
American Callie Shell won for Time in the People in the News category with a photo series of Barack Obama during his successful campaign for the U.S. presidency.
Shell "told the story of a U.S. presidential candidate in a way that was unique and compelling," said jury member Erin Elder of Canada's Globe and Mail. She said Shell managed to stand out with her photos of intimate moments of Obama despite stiff competition and limited access.
In one humanizing image, Obama is reading a newspaper on a bus, eyes puffy from lack of sleep, with his wife Michelle leaning against him and dozing.
Suau, who also won second place in the Daily Life Series category with a series on the effects of the financial crisis, will receive a prize of euro10,000 (US$12,800) and a camera at a ceremony in Amsterdam on May 3.
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