Florence Graves, founding director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, has been named the new chair of the I.F. Stone Medal selection committee. The group chooses the winner of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, which is presented annually by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and its Nieman Watchdog Project.
Established in 2008, the award is given to journalists whose work captures the spirit of journalistic independence, integrity, courage and indefatigability that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published 1953-1971 by I.F. Stone.
Graves previously served on the selection committee with outgoing chair and former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach and Myra MacPherson, author of “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone.”
Past winners of the prize include filmmaker Laura Poitras, New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, investigative reporter Robert Parry, ProPublica staff writer A.C. Thompson and alternative news pioneer Sandy Close. Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!” received a lifetime achievement award in 2014.
Discussing her new role, Graves said: “I am honored to chair the selection committee that honors one of my journalistic heroes. I.F. Stone epitomized the highly independent journalist willing to cut against the grain of much mainstream journalism, to dig deeply into documents many reporters eschewed to break significant news—all while figuring out how to distribute his work (I.F. Stone’s Weekly) and pay the bills.”
“Florence has been an important member of the I.F. Stone Medal selection committee and we are honored she will assume this new role in guiding the process,” said Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski. “We are also deeply grateful to Bill Kovach for his wise oversight of the award these past years and his ongoing counsel to Nieman.”
During her distinguished career as an investigative reporter and magazine editor, Graves has focused largely on exposing government and corporate abuse as well as social injustice and human rights violations. Her work has led to congressional hearings, government investigations, passage of state and federal laws, and important public and corporate policy reforms. Her groundbreaking Washington Post reporting (with Charles E. Shepard) on Sen. Bob Packwood’s serial sexual misconduct led to the first-ever Senate Ethics Committee investigation of sexual misconduct, Sen. Packwood’s resignation and to the passage of the landmark Congressional Accountability Act, subjecting Congress to the same discrimination laws as the rest of the nation.
In 2004 Graves founded the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, which conducts in-house investigations and champions the work of independent investigative journalists through research-supported long-term fellowships. In the past year, the Institute’s criminal justice investigations led Massachusetts judges to overturn two wrongful convictions. Graves founded and edited the national political and investigative journal, Common Cause Magazine, whose awards include the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.
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 1,500 journalists from 94 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a quarterly print and online magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism; 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.