Nieman News

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Investigative journalist, author and New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer has been selected as winner of the 2013 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard will present the award on Sept. 28, 2013, during the foundation’s 75th anniversary weekend in Cambridge, Mass.

Former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach, chair of the advisory committee that oversees the annual award, said “Mayer is being recognized for her in-depth investigations of complex issues, the consistently high quality of her writing and her ability to maintain her reportorial independence at a large news organization.”

Nieman curator Ann Marie Lipinski added “I am grateful to Bill Kovach and the selection committee for their hard work in identifying a journalist who upholds the standards of rigor and independence that characterized I.F. Stone’s reporting. We are honored to welcome Jane Mayer to Harvard to talk about her distinguished work.”

In making their decision, the judges cited the exceptional caliber of her recent body of work, including herbest-selling book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.” The book addresses the legal justifications for the use of questionable interrogation techniques — considered by many to be torture — on detainees by the CIA and Department of Defense. It was chosen by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2008 and by The Economist, Salon, Slate and Bloomberg as one of the best books of the year. In 2010, NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute named it one of the decade’s ten most important works of journalism.

Mayer joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1995. Based in Washington, D.C., she writes about national security issues, the war on terror, money and influence peddling in politics, culture, ethics and law. Her diverse portfolio includes reporting on George W. Bush, the Koch brothers, the Obama administration’s war on whistle-blowers, the bin Laden family and Sarah Palin, among other topics.

Before joining The New Yorker, Mayer worked as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal for 12 years. In 1984, she became the paper’s first female White House correspondent and also served as a war correspondent, foreign correspondent and front-page editor. During her time at the Journal, she covered stories ranging from the bombing of the American barracks in Beirut and the Persian Gulf War to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the final days of communism in the Soviet Union.

Mayer previously worked as a metropolitan reporter for the Washington Star. She began her journalism career as a stringer for Time while still in college and went on to write for two small weekly papers in Vermont, The Weathersfield Weekly and The Black River Tribune, before moving to the daily paper, The Rutland Herald. Through the years, she has written for a number of other publications, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Review of Books.

In addition to “The Dark Side,” Mayer is also the co-author of two other best-selling books: “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” written with Jill Abramson, which was a finalist for the 1994 National Book Award for nonfiction; and “Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988,” co-authored by Doyle McManus, about Ronald Reagan’s last four years in the White House and his administration’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

Mayer’s many honors include the 2008 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism; a 2008 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the 2009 Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy; the 2009 Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University; the 2009 Ridenhour Book Prize; the New York Public Library’s 2009 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism; the 2009 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, presented jointly by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation; the 2009 Sidney Hillman Book Prize; the 2009 Ambassador Award from the English-Speaking Union of the United States ; and the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. She also was a 2009 finalist for a National Book Award and for a National Book Critics Circle Award. She has been a finalist three times for the National Magazine Award and was nominated twice by the Journal for a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, she was the winner of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and in 2012, she was awarded the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. Mayer also won a George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting for her 2011 New Yorker story on National Security Agency whistle-blower Thomas Drake.

In 2009, Mayer was chosen as Princeton University’s Ferris Professor of the Humanities, teaching an undergraduate seminar on political reporting. She also has been a speaker at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Mount Holyoke, Northwestern, Boston College and Grinnell. She is a 1977 honors graduate of Yale and studied history at Oxford.

Established in 2008, the I.F Stone Medal honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone and is presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of journalistic independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published 1953-1971. The award is administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and its Nieman Watchdog Project.

An advisory committee of journalists oversees nominations and the selection of an annual medal winner. The 2013 I.F. Stone Medal selection committee was chaired by journalist and former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach, author John R. (Rick) MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine and Myra MacPherson, author of “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone.”

The group made their selection from recommendations presented by prominent journalists including John Darnton, Patricia O’Brien, Don Guttenplan, Florence Graves, and Melissa Ludtke.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard educates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,400 accomplished and promising journalists from 92 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a quarterly print and online magazine that explores contemporary challenges and opportunities in journalism; the Nieman Journalism Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.

For more information about I.F. Stone, visit

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