Banner Image for I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence
2019 I.F. Stone Medal recipients Monika Bauerlein, left, and Clara Jeffery, right, with Florence Graves Lisa Abitbol

Awards & Conferences

I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence

2023 Winner

Journalist Wendi C. Thomas, founding editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom in Memphis, Tennessee

Wendi C. Thomas

Wendi C. Thomas, founding editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom in Memphis, Tennessee, is winner of the 2023 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. MLK50 focuses on poverty, power and a range of public policy issues that affect local residents. Since its founding in 2017, it has told the stories of marginalized people too often ignored by established news media.

Speaking about this year’s decision, I.F. Stone Medal jury member Jasmine Brown said: “Wendi Thomas followed her North Star, establishing MLK50 despite doubters who told her a nonprofit newsroom centered on the vulnerable could not stand. MLK50 has proven there is strength in a press that is proximate to the people. MLK50’s reporting has transformed lives and brought about change. As a shining beacon of local journalism, this newsroom gives me hope that there are scalable models for the press to survive and thrive.”

Read the announcement.

About the Award

Established in 2008, the I.F. Stone Medal recognizes journalistic independence and honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone.

The award is presented annually to an American journalist or news executive whose work exemplifies the independent spirit, integrity, courage and indefatigability that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly published from 1953 to 1971.

A committee of journalists oversees nominations and the selection of an annual medal winner. The committee is chaired by PBS public editor Ricardo Sandoval-Palos. Other members are Jasmine Brown, a senior producer in the race and culture unit at ABC News’ “World News Tonight with David Muir”; Myra MacPherson, author of “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone”; Phillip W.d. Martin, a senior investigative reporter for WGBH News; Michael Riley, an investigative reporter for Bloomberg News and Businessweek magazine; and Bernice Yeung, managing director/managing editor of the Investigative Reporting Program at Berkeley Journalism.

About I.F. Stone

Journalist I.F. Stone’s passion for speaking his mind incurred the wrath of the powerful. His opposition to Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his determination to expose the excesses of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI led to attacks on his credibility and reputation during the McCarthy Era in the early 1950s.

The I.F. Stone Medal bears a likeness of an issue of I.F. Stone’s Weekly with a headline on the Tonkin Gulf affair, ‘All We Really Know Is That We Fired The First Shots.’ (PDF)

Stone was one of only a few journalists who reported on the U.S. government’s false allegations that the North Vietnamese had attacked a U.S. destroyer in 1964, the claim President Johnson used to persuade the Senate to approve the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which ultimately paved the way for the country to enter the Vietnam War.

The Genesis of the I.F. Stone Medal

A Son’s Journey to Honor His Father

In 2006, I.F. Stone biographer Myra MacPherson waited with trepidation as Jeremy Stone read the galleys of her book “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone.”

As executor of Stone’s estate, Jeremy could have interfered in the publication of a biography he deemed too critical: Jeremy, as independent as his famous father, was the only Stone family member who had refused a request to be interviewed for the book. But he ultimately approved, saying the work depicted his father as a human being, “warts and all,” and not as an icon.

Jeremy said the biography spurred him to create an award in his father’s name. In doing so, he invited a group of journalists to his home to interest them in the effort. Among them was Bill Kovach, former curator of the Nieman Fellowships at Harvard University, where the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence was established.

Izzy, as everyone from the corner grocer to Albert Einstein had called him, was a singular voice in American journalism, noted for courageous reporting on McCarthyism and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. In his eponymous I.F. Stone’s Weekly, he immediately calling out the lie of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which had led to escalation of the Vietnam War.

In establishing the award, Jeremy planned every aspect of the I. F. Stone medal, including succinctly summing up what his father had stood for: independent spirit, integrity, courage and indefatigability.

Jeremy Stone himself was an independent, persistent and outspoken activist on arms control, human rights and international scientific cooperation. He was also a noted critic of Pentagon spending, earning him a spot on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list. His ideas helped form the framework of the U.S.-Soviet ABM Treaty of 1972.

Jeremy turned down his father’s invitation to run the muckraking I.F. Stone’s Weekly, writing that he strongly preferred to “create my own identity.” Yet his own autobiography stressed a theme similar to his father’s – that one person can make a difference.

Jeremy helped create another tribute to Izzy: the Canadian documentary “All Governments Lie: Truth Deception and the Spirit of I.F. Stone,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, a few months before Jeremy died, on January 1, 2017.

The son who had worked hard to carve out his own identity ended up revering and lauding the same in his father.


Wendi C. Thomas
Press Release
Jamie Kalven
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Eli Reed
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Maria Hinojosa
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Monika Bauerlein
Clara Jeffery
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Charles Lewis
Victor S. Navasky
Robert Parry
Laura Poitras
Amy Goodman
Jane Mayer
Sandy Close
A.C. Thompson
Carly Gelsinger
Craig R. McCoy
James Robinson
Jon Alpert
Russ Choma
John Walcott