Nieman News

Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University today announced the three winners of the Lukas Prize Project Awards.

Sheri Fink, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for her investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Jill Lepore, a prolific author and Harvard University professor who combines her interests in historical research, language and literature, will receive the Mark Lynton History Prize for her biography of Jane Franklin Mecom. Reporter and writer Adrienne Berard has won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for her book about the untold story of the first fight for desegregation in Southern schools.

Fink’s book “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” (Crown Publishers) was lauded by the judges. In their citation, they said the work “combines every element of journalistic excellence that marked the work of J. Anthony Lukas – an astutely chosen subject full of moral complexity, superb in-depth reporting, deftly controlled literary narrative, and an open-minded ability to present its characters and the ambiguities of their unprecedented situation with fairness and good judgment.” The winner receives $10,000.

Reporter Jonathan M. Katz is the finalist for the Lukas Book Prize for “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster” (Palgrave Macmillan). His citation called it, “a brave and enraging book about natural disaster compounded by misguided assumptions and policy.” In 2012, Katz won the $30,000 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, which he used to complete his book.

The Mark Lynton History Prize winner Jill Lepore will receive $10,000 for her work “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf). The judges of the award said her book conveys the emotional life of Benjamin Franklin’s sister, Jane Franklin Mecom, “in a voice both clear and rich.” Their citation said, “Lepore creates from shards of evidence a palpable presence enabling readers to understand Jane Mecom intellectually and emotionally. In doing so, Lepore dramatizes what gender meant in early America and the beauty that a superb writer can bring to an ordinary life.”

Christopher Clark, who authored “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914” (HarperCollins), is the finalist for the Lynton History Prize.  As quoted in his prize citation, “Christopher Clark’s ‘The Sleepwalkers is the finest study yet written of the coming of the seminal calamity of the 20th century, the one from which all others flowed.” Clark is professor of modern European history and a fellow of St. Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge in England.

The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, with $30,000 in prize money, goes to writer Adrienne Berard for her book “When Yellow Was Black: The untold story of the first fight for desegregation in Southern schools” (Beacon Press). In their citation, the judges said Berard tells the story “in a deeply affecting narrative that is both epic and intimate, through meticulous, original research and truthful real life portraits. She sheds new light on issues that continue to torment and resonate in our public and private lives.” Berard is a 2013 graduate of the Columbia Journalism School.

Yochi J. Dreazen, the deputy editor for news at Foreign Policy, is the finalist for the Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for his work “The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War” (Crown Publishers). Judges cited “his detailed compassionate and compelling report from the front lines of what Dreazen calls ‘the Army’s third war’ – its fight against the plague of military suicides in the wake of our prolonged conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The judges for the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Project are: Carlin Romano, Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Peking University’s Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies; Geoffrey C. Ward, a historian, biographer and Emmy Award-winning writer of documentary films; Betty Prashker, former vice president, associate publisher and editor-in-chief at Crown Publishing Group; Richard Snow, author and former editor-in-chief of American Heritage; Helen Horowitz, Parsons Professor of History, emerita at Smith College; Gerald Howard, vice president and executive editor at Doubleday; Frances Negrón-Muntaner, associate professor of English at Columbia University; Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and National Book Award winner; and David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent at The New York Times.

The awards will be presented to the winners and finalists on Tuesday, May 13, at a ceremony at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation co-administer the awards.

About the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards
Established in 1998, the prizes recognize excellence in nonfiction that exemplifies the literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern that characterized the work of the awards’ Pulitzer Prize-winning namesake, J. Anthony Lukas, who died in 1997. One of the three Lukas Prize Project Awards, the Mark Lynton History Prize, is named for the late Mark Lynton, a business executive and author of “Accidental Journey:

A Cambridge Internee’s Memoir of World War II.” Lynton was an avid proponent of the writing of history and the Lynton family has sponsored the Lukas Prize Project since its inception.

About the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
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 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.

About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
For over a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists with instruction and training that stresses academic rigor, ethics, inquiry, and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the School opened its doors in 1912 and offers master of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees.

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