The Nieman Foundation’s annual journalism awards honor exemplary work in several categories and recognize outstanding reporting that often involves careful fact checking, in-depth investigations, multimedia presentations and exceptional storytelling.
Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism
Established in 1967, the annual $20,000 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served.
The Dallas Morning News for “Pain and Profit,” a 16-month investigation into mismanaged health care in Texas by reporters J. David McSwane and Andrew Chavez that led to important reforms. Using extensive public records and leaked state data, McSwane and Chavez discovered that health care companies in the state made billions of dollars while denying or stalling crucial taxpayer-funded medications and treatments to thousands of sick children and disabled Texans. After the series was published, new legislation was enacted to help curb those practices.
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.
“Sign Here to Lose Everything,” a five-part Bloomberg News series about predatory lending practices in the cash-advance industry reported by Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux. The investigation revealed how an obscure legal document called a “confession of judgment” used New York’s court system to collect debts, bankrupting businesses and ruining lives in the process. The reporting has led to important reforms.
Two other entries have been selected as finalists for the Taylor Award:
“Unprotected,” a ProPublica investigation published in collaboration with Time magazine, revealed that a highly lauded American charity operating in Liberia betrayed the very girls it was supposed to keep safe, concealing rapes of girls by a prominent man working within the charity.
“Heartbroken” by the Tampa Bay Times showed that pediatric heart surgery patients had died at an alarming rate at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Petersburg, Florida, despite warnings that certain procedures were putting children at risk.
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 and winners are chosen by fellows during their Nieman year at Harvard.
Marisa Kwiatkowski, an investigative reporter at The Indianapolis Star. Nieman Fellows in the class of 2019 selected Kwiatkowski for her years of work exposing shortfalls in systems designed to protect children—in day care settings and in mental health services—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 announcing their choice for the award, the fellows 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 Nieman Class of 2020 selected Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI, the Center for Investigative Reporting) for the Lyons Award for its relentless drive in investigating the most pressing issues on the island, including the government’s mismanagement of public funds; the death count after Hurricane Maria; the ongoing financial debt crisis; and the secret communications among the island’s top political leadership—which when revealed by CPI, sparked protests and ultimately led to Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation from office. The fellows noted that CPI has demonstrated the highest degree of conscience and integrity in its work through uncovering political corruption and financial mismanagement.
By pressing for government transparency and filling in the gaps of truth with hard-nosed reporting, CPI has held the Puerto Rican government to account and demonstrated the power of fact finding.
I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence
Established in 2008, the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence 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 journalists Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery won the 2019 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence in recognition of their enduring support of investigative reporting and independent journalists.
Announcing the award, Florence Graves, chair of the I.F. Stone Medal selection committee said: “Since they became co-editors in 2006, Monika and Clara have done a spectacular job of bringing Mother Jones fully into the digital age and continuing the groundbreaking investigative reporting that the publication has been known for since its launch in 1976 during the post-Watergate era. Against the odds for nonprofit (and increasingly for-profit) publications, they have brilliantly stabilized and expanded the muckraking magazine’s finances—a key to their many editorial successes.”
J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards
Established in 1998, the Lukas Prize Project honors the best in American nonfiction writing. 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.
The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000)
- Winner: Shane Bauer, a senior reporter for Mother Jones, has won for “American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment,” a groundbreaking and brave look at the nexus of prison and profit in America—in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country’s history.
- Finalist: Journalist Lauren Hilgers for “Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown,” the story of Zhuang Liehong and Little Yan and the Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, one of the fastest-growing immigrant enclaves in the U.S. The book weighs the illusions and expectations of many immigrants against the realities they face as they build a new life in America.
The J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Awards ($25,000)
- Winner: Maurice Chammah, a staff writer at The Marshall Project, won for “Let the Lord Sort Them: Texas and the Death Penalty’s Rise and Fall in America,” which traces the revival of the American death penalty, focusing on Texas.
- Winner: Steven Dudley, co-founder and co-director of InSight Crime, a think tank that investigates organized crime in the Americas, won for “MARA: The Making of the MS13,” the story of the MS13 gang as told through the lives of some of its members.
The Mark Lynton History Prize (two $10,000 winners in 2019)
- Winner: Andrew Delbanco, Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University and president of the Teagle Foundation, won for “The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War,” the devastating story of how fugitive slaves drove the nation to civil war.
- Winner: Jeffrey C. Stewart, a professor of black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has won for “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance.
- Finalist: David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, for “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom”, the dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the 19th century.
- Read the press release
- Watch a video of the award ceremony and a conversation with the winners
Joe Alex Morris Jr. Lecture
The Joe Alex Morris Jr. Lecture is presented annually by an American overseas correspondent or commentator on foreign affairs who is invited to Harvard to discuss international reporting.
NPR’s London correspondent Frank Langfitt, a 2003 Nieman Fellow, will present the next Morris Lecture in March 2020. He currently covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe and has reported extensively on Brexit. He also frequently appears on the BBC, where he explains American politics.
Previously, Langfitt spent five years as an NPR correspondent covering China. Based in Shanghai, he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. That reporting resulted in the book “The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China.”
While in China, Langfitt also reported on the government’s infamous black jails — secret detention. Before moving to Shanghai, Langfitt was NPR’s East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. Prior to Africa, Langfitt was NPR’s labor correspondent based in Washington, D.C.