The Nieman Foundation administers annual journalism awards presented to news organizations and journalists who have produced exceptional work in several categories. By honoring journalistic excellence, the foundation helps shine a spotlight on groundbreaking reporting projects produced across all platforms. Many of the winning reports have led to important reforms.
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.
The Nieman class of 2022 chose Rukhshana Media, an online news agency covering issues that affect women in Afghanistan, for this year’s Lyons Award. The Nieman Fellows recognized Rukhshana Media’s “unwavering commitment to giving prominence to a silenced and terrorized community — the women of Afghanistan who are living under Taliban control.” In announcing their selection, they also noted: “Journalists in Afghanistan have risked their lives to report on conditions there and women working in Afghan media have been direct targets of the Taliban. Rukhshana has continued to publish nearly daily reports despite the grave risks involved in getting these stories in front of the public.”
In May, Rukhshana’s founder and chief editor Zahra Joya joined the fellows on Zoom from the U.K., where she lives in exile, to talk about the work of her predominantly female staff and the stories they tell about Afghanistan.
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 Tampa Bay Times’ is the winner of the 2021 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for “Poisoned,” its meticulously researched series by investigative reporters Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray. The team exposed the dangerous working conditions inside the Gopher Resource lead smelting plant in Tampa, Florida. Their stories revealed that hundreds of employees, many of whom were Black and immigrants, regularly worked in clouds of poisonous lead dust and other toxic chemicals with respirators that did not adequately protect them from fumes. Workers unwittingly carried lead home, exposing their children to the neurotoxin. The reporters also discovered that federal regulators from OSHA hadn’t been inside the Gopher facility in five years.
The reporting has led to important reforms. Among them: a team of OSHA inspectors visited the plant and verified the Times’ findings. They ordered additional improvements and issued $319,000 in fines, one of the highest penalties in Florida in recent years. The series additionally won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, a George Polk Award in the local reporting category, the Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting from the News Leaders Association and an IRE Award.
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.
An investigation by The Madison County Record into attempts by the Huntsville, Arkansas, school board to cover up sexual assault allegations by junior high school basketball players, is winner of the 2021 Taylor Award. The reporting by the community weekly with a circulation of just 4,000 and only five staff members found that the local school board members sought to conceal not only the assault allegations but also their decision to reduce the recommended punishment for some students and to cancel punishment for others. The series was written by Ellen Kreth, the publisher and owner of the paper, and Shannon Hahn, the general manager, with assistance from summer reporter Celia Kreth.
Judges selected two other entries as finalists for the Taylor Award:
- “FEMA’s disasters,” an in-depth look by Washington Post national enterprise reporter Hannah Dreier at how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is struggling to help disaster survivors in the age of climate change and inequality in America. Investigative data reporter Andrew Ba Tran provided analysis of FEMA aid applications.
- “Birth & Betrayal,” a Miami Herald/ProPublica series reported by Carol Marbin Miller and Daniel Chang that revealed that a Florida program created to protect OB-GYNs from large malpractice bills deprives families of their right to sue when births go wrong and repeatedly denied critical medical expenses for injured children.
- Read the press release
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.
Author, journalist and human rights activist Jamie Kalven is winner of the 2022 I.F. Stone Medal. Kalven founded the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism production company on the South Side of Chicago. Through his investigations and projects, he has documented police abuse and impunity, fought for access to vital public records and told the stories of many of the underserved and underrepresented residents in society.
Announcing the award, I.F. Stone Medal jury chair Ricardo Sandoval-Palos said: “For decades, Jamie Kalven has practiced journalism in the tradition established by his role model, I.F. Stone. Jamie has produced stories that have held government and police accountable. Our jury was unanimous in voting this year’s medal to Jamie in recognition of the impact of his work and the infrastructure he’s established for up-and-coming independent investigative journalists.”
J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards
Established in 1998, the J. Anthony 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 2022 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000)
Winner: Andrea Elliott, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, won for “Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City” (Random House), which follows eight years in the life of Dasani, a homeless girl in Brooklyn. Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her ancestors, tracing their passage from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani grows up, she must guide her siblings through a world riddled by hunger, violence, racism, drug addiction and the threat of foster care, and grapple with difficult decisions about her own future.
Finalist: Patrick Radden Keefe, an author and staff writer at The New Yorker, for “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty” (Doubleday). The book examines the history of the Sackler family, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin. Keefe chronicles the multiple investigations of the Sacklers and the scorched-earth legal tactics they used to evade accountability. “Empire of Pain” is a study of impunity among the super elite and an investigation of the greed and indifference to human suffering that built one of the world’s great fortunes.
The 2020 J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Awards (two $25,000 prizes)
Winner: Roxanna Asgarian, an independent investigative journalist focused on the child protection and criminal legal systems, has won for “We Were Once a Family: The Hart Murder-Suicide and the System Failing Our Kids” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Asgarian’s forthcoming book explores the story of the Hart family’s murder- suicide after the children’s adoptive mothers drove the family off a cliff in California. Scheduled for publication in 2023, the book focuses on the birth families of the children spanning generations and illuminates how the failures of America’s child welfare system contributed to the tragedy.
Winner: May Jeong, a reporter at Vanity Fair, for “The Life: Sex, Work, and Love in America”(Atria Books), which examines the forces shaping sex work and the lives of sex workers, and how these forces interact with race, gender and class. Jeong explores the limitations of our criminal system when it deals with prostitution and sex trafficking, often criminalizing those who are victims as much as they are breakers of unjust laws.
The 2020 Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000)
Winner: Jane Rogoyska, an author with a special interest in the turbulent period from the 1930s to the Cold War in Europe, for “Surviving Katyń: Stalin’s Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth” (Oneworld/Simon & Schuster). Her book explores the decades-long search for answers about the massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war, a crime committed in utmost secrecy in April-May 1940 by the Soviet Union’s interior ministry, on the direct orders of Joseph Stalin. For nearly 50 years, the Soviet regime succeeded in maintaining the fiction that Katyń was a Nazi atrocity.
Finalist: Katie Booth, a writing instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, for “The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness” (Simon & Schuster). Booth’s book will provide a new perspective on an American icon, revealing the true genesis of the telephone and its connection to another, far more disturbing legacy of Alexander Graham Bell’s: his efforts to suppress American Sign Language. The book offers an account of the deaf community’s fight to reclaim a once-forbidden language. Booth, who was raised in a mixed hearing and deaf family, spent more than 15 years researching her book.
- Watch a conversation with the winners on C-SPAN