The Nieman Foundation’s annual journalism awards recognize outstanding reporting in six categories. By honoring individual journalists, teams and newsrooms, the foundation aims to showcase exceptional storytelling. Nieman award recipients have produced groundbreaking work across all media platforms.
Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism
Established in 1967, the annual $20,000 Worth Bingham Prize honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served. For more than five decades, winning Bingham Prize entries have uncovered abuse, neglect, corruption and malfeasance of all types at the local, state and national level. Many of the reports have led to important policy and legislative changes that have corrected wrongdoing. In a number of instances, reporters have given voice to the voiceless and in doing so, have helped protect some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.
2017 Winner (for reporting completed in calendar year 2017)
The Miami Herald won the 2017 Worth Bingham Prize for “Fight Club,” a series that exposed serious problems and abuse in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Reported by lead investigative journalists Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch, the stories have led to significant reforms to improve the broken system and to protect juvenile detainees from future abuse.
This is the second time that The Miami Herald and reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch won the Bingham Prize. They first received the award for their 2014 series “Innocents Lost,” which examined the deaths of hundreds of children in Florida over a six-year period.
Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism
The Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism honors balanced and impartial news coverage by American journalists and news organizations. Members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999, established the $10,000 award in 2001. Finalists receive $1,000 each.
2017 Winner (for reporting completed in calendar year 2017)
“The Tax Divide,” a four-part series published by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois and reported by 2015 Nieman Fellow Jason Grotto, won the 2017 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism. The series, which exposed an unfair property tax assessment system in Cook County, Illinois, is the result of a two-year investigation during which Grotto read thousands of documents, analyzed more than 100 million computer records and interviewed dozens of experts, attorneys and property owners affected by inaccurate assessments.
Two other entries were selected as finalists for the Taylor Award: “Quantity of Care,” a Seattle Times series reported by Mike Baker and Justin Mayo that exposed excessive greed and medical negligence at a prominent neuroscience institute in Seattle; and “Ignoring Innocence,” a ProPublica series by reporter Megan Rose that examined legal cases that forced the wrongfully convicted into plea deals.
The Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism
The Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism recognizes the work of courageous journalists and journalism organizations around the world. Nieman Fellows in the class of 1964 established the award to honor the Nieman curator who retired that year.
Marisa Kwiatkowski, an investigative reporter at The Indianapolis Star, is winner of the 2019 Louis Lyons Award. She was chosen for her years of work exposing shortfalls in the systems designed to protect children as well as her contributions to the team that reported exhaustively about the sexual abuse charges brought against Larry Nassar, formerly the team doctor for USA Gymnastics and a physician at Michigan State University.
In selecting her for the award, Nieman Fellows in the class of 2019 said: “Marisa Kwiatkowski’s relentless efforts to give voice to the afflicted through her reporting inspire us all. She has committed her career to initiating change for the vulnerable by shining a light on how governments and the powerful conduct themselves. Never was her reporting more important than when she discovered information that led a team of investigative reporters at The Indianapolis Star to uncover the extensive sexual abuses of Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor.”
The reporting sparked a number of important changes at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State. And after pleading guilty to sexually abusing seven girls, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison.
Elena Milashina was selected as the 2018 Lyons Award for her groundbreaking and persistent investigative reporting on human rights abuses in Russia while enduring threats from powerful figures. She was also chosen as a representative of independent Russian journalists who continue to work in the face of hostility and persecution from the nation’s leaders, agencies and their associates.
Milashina is a veteran investigative reporter for Novaya Gazeta, the most prominent of Russia’s independent newspapers. She is best known for stories in 2017 in which she and a colleague reported that hundreds of gay men had been detained and tortured by officials in Chechnya as part of an anti-homosexual purge, and some were even killed by order of the authorities. Officials and religious leaders in Chechnya made death threats against Milashina and her colleagues. In recent years, six journalists from Novaya Gazeta have been murdered.
In selecting her for the award, Nieman Fellows in the class of 2018 said “Elena Milashina reminds us why we became journalists. Her work and her persistence are important and inspirational at a time when reporters are being attacked by governments around the world, from the United States to Turkey to China. Milashina and her colleagues hold the powerful to account, and they do it despite the very real threats of death, imprisonment and public scorn.”
J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards
Established in 1998, the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project honors the best in American nonfiction writing. Presented and co-administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation, the project is sponsored by the family of the late Mark Lynton, a historian and senior executive at the firm Hunter Douglas in the Netherlands. In May 2018, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Lukas Prizes at ceremony at Columbia Journalism School.
The 2018 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000)
- Winner: Amy Goldstein for “Janesville: An American Story”
- Finalist: Jessica Bruder for “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.”
The Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000)
- Winner: Stephen Kotkin won the Mark Lynton History Prize for “Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.”
- Finalist: Caroline Fraser for “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”
The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award ($25,000)
Chris Hamby for “Soul Full of Coal Dust: The True Story of an Epic Battle for Justice” and Rachel Louise Snyder for “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Violence Can Kill Us.”
Joe Alex Morris Jr. Lecture
The Morris Lecture is presented each academic year by an American overseas correspondent or commentator on foreign affairs who is invited to Harvard to discuss international reporting.
American photojournalist Lynsey Addario presented the Joe Alex Morris Jr. Lecture in January 2018. Addario works for The New York Times, National Geographic and Time magazine and has covered every major conflict and humanitarian crises of her generation, including assignments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, South Sudan, Somalia, and Congo. Her New York Times best-selling memoir, “It’s What I Do,” chronicles her personal and professional life as a photojournalist coming of age in the post-9/11 world. Addario has been the recipient of numerous international awards. In 2015, American Photo Magazine named her one of the five most influential photographers of the past 25 years and in 2009, Addario was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She also was part of the New York Times team to win the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for her photographs in “Talibanistan,” published in the New York Times Magazine.
Author and journalist Alfredo Corchado delivered the 37th Joe Alex Morris Jr. Memorial Lecture in November 2018. A 2009 Nieman Fellow, Corchado is the Mexico-border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News. He has reported on the reach of Mexican drug cartels into the United States, the plight of Mexican and Central American immigrants in the U.S. and government corruption on both sides of the border.
Born in Durango, Mexico, Corchado was raised in California and Texas. He worked the fields of California alongside his parents, who were members of the United Farm Workers union led by Cesar Chavez. He began his career in journalism at the El Paso Herald-Post before joining The Wall Street Journal.
His many honors include the Maria Moors Cabot Prize and the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for Courage in Journalism. He is a former director of the Borderlands Program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2018.
Corchado is the author of “Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness” and “Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration.”
I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence
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 a journalist whose work captures the spirit of independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published from 1953 to 1971.
Veteran journalist and author Charles Lewis, won the 2018 I.F. Stone Medal in recognition of his unceasing efforts to strengthen and support the work of investigative journalists in the U.S. and abroad.
Announcing the award, Florence Graves, chair of the I.F. Stone Medal selection committee said: “For nearly four decades, Chuck Lewis has led the reporting of groundbreaking journalism to uncover government corruption, cronyism cover-ups and crimes. A pioneer in nonprofit news, he has worked tirelessly to raise funds to help others do the same and to protect the independence of their work, free from the constraints of news organizations beholden to special interests. His important work carries on the proud tradition of I.F. Stone, speaking truth to power, and prompting fact-finding hearings and vital reforms.”