Last year marked a moment in American journalism that we may not be able to turn back from: we allowed propaganda to overwhelm our election process, diluting our shared ability to take action based on the news we receive. Throughout that process, though, there were journalists sharing articles, videos, and other media in ethical and principled ways.
There are awards for everything, and ethics in journalism is no exception. The Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics recognizes “outstanding application of ethical standards by an individual journalist or group of journalists.” We’re talking about stuff like protecting sources, going up against large organizations, and generally doing the right thing as a journalist. Nominations are due January 31. The award winner receives $1,000 and a trip to the awards ceremony.
I’ve already sent in a letter nominating a journalist showing the ethics and principles we need in the days, months, and years to come. But you should do the same — there’s no limit on who can submit a nomination. Technically, I didn’t see a limit on the number of nominations a single person can submit, but one nomination per person seems pretty reasonable.
You Too Can Nominate People for Awards
You’re welcome to use my letter of nomination as a model to submit a nomination of your own for the Shadid Award in Ethics. Here’s the file on Google Drive — just copy it and start writing. Make sure to address all five points the nomination instructions ask for! You can export your finished letter as a PDF and send it in to the Center for Journalism Ethics immediately.
In case you need a few suggestions for nominations, here’s a short list to get you started:
- Sarah Kendzior: Sarah has consistently written the clearest analysis of the new administration’s goals and tactics that I’ve seen, across a variety of sites. Her post-election article on living under an authoritarian government has rapidly become required reading. Sarah’s work is impressive, but it’s also leadership that we need under the new administration.
- Myron Dewey: Myron, through Digital Smoke Signals, has been providing video updates on the #noDAPL protests since last summer, directly from the water protectors’ camp. He and his gear have been targeted; the drone he used for filming was seized without a warrant by police. In particular, check out the primary video here.
- Sarah Jeong: Sarah live-tweeted Google v Oracle as an independent journalist in May 2016. We’re talking about a key copyright decision that could impact software for decades to come, which Sarah found ways to document and discuss in real time. Just about every article I read about the decision wound up quoting Sarah in some fashion. Additionally, Sarah’s discussion on publishing at XOXO is one of the clearer (and funnier) examinations of media and money I’ve seen in a while.
- Unicorn Riot: Unicorn Riot is a decentralized media collective. They specialize in telling stories around social justice, including the Dakota Access Pipeline and #BlackLivesMatter. Unicorn Riot reporters are routinely on the frontlines of protests — they’ve been beaten, arrested, and had their gear seized. One story is particularly worth noting in a nomination: in Denver, Unicorn Riot is drawing attention to abusive policing against people without housing, providing a basis for a class-action lawsuit.
If you’re in need of more suggestions for nominations, I’d suggest Kong Tsung-gan’s round up of the best human rights journalism published in 2016. I’m slowly working through the list and haven’t yet read everything included, but what I’ve read so far has been both moving and meaningful.
A Few Further Thoughts on Nominations
You may notice that my suggested nominations focus on independent journalists and publications. There are a couple of reasons for that:
- Independent journalists and publications don’t have the time or resources to devote to finding and landing awards in the way that larger organizations can choose to.
- An award of $1,000 can make a major difference for an independent journalist or publication. In 2016, a team from the Associated Press won. The Associated Press’ revenue in 2015 was $568 million. In comparison, Chipotle gift cards made the difference in Sarah Jeong’s ability to cover Google v. Oracle.
- When I first looked at the past winners of the Shadid Award, they mostly seemed very similar. But white men from large news organizations do not have a monopoly on ethics in journalism. In fact, sometimes ethics seems like something that we have to commit to despite the gender and racial majorities we live among. (Quick caveat: Duaa Eldeib won in 2015 as part of a team from the Chicago Tribune and Martha Mendoza, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, and Esther Htusan won in 2016. They’re all impressive journalists who you should look up and follow.)
I know that I’m talking about these nominations with only a day before they’re due and I know that we’re all focused on the new administration’s efforts to seize power. But I need to be able to celebrate something or I’m not going to be able to keep protesting. If you feel the same way, consider celebrating some journalists with a quick letter.