2018 Award Winners

Julie Pace and Zeke Miller present WHCA scholarship winners. Photo by Mike Theiler


The White House Correspondents’ Association is pleased to announce that journalists from the New York Times, CNN, Politico and Reuters are the winners of our 2018 journalism awards.

The awards will be presented at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, April 28 at the Washington Hilton.

“The WHCA congratulates these award winners, and we’re proud to honor them at our annual dinner as we celebrate the First Amendment and the crucial role of journalism in informing and protecting the public,” said Margaret Talev, WHCA president and senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg.

The WHCA represents the White House press corps in its dealings with the administration and advocates for journalists’ ability to see and report on the president and his staff. Here are the details on these awards:

Aldo Beckman Memorial Award

The Aldo Beckman Award goes to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.

From the judges: Maggie Haberman’s White House reporting showed her deep understanding of what makes President Trump tick. Having covered Mr. Trump as a New York businessman for 20 years, she was able to tap that knowledge of his personality, business operations and inner circle to chronicle the first year of his presidency. Her reporting was nuanced, contextual and multi-dimensional, with rich detail and authoritative sourcing. She often conveyed the feeling of being a fly on the wall of the White House. She also was a generous colleague who shared the fruits of her reporting with others at the Times.

Merriman Smith Award

The Merriman Smith Award for broadcast goes to Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein of CNN.

From the judges: These four journalists and a number of other CNN reporters broke the story that the intelligence community had briefed President Barack Obama and then-President elect Donald Trump that Russia had compromising information about Trump. The CNN team later reported that then-FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump about the dossier. Thanks to this CNN investigation, “the dossier” is now part of the lexicon.  The depth of reporting demonstrated in these remarkable and important pieces, and the constant updates as new information continued to be uncovered showed breaking news reporting at its best.

The Merriman Smith Award for print goes to Josh Dawsey of Politico.

Josh Dawsey’s story about the resignation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer grabs the reader from the opening sentence. Dawsey hustled to find a wide assortment of sources and wove a narrative that conveyed the drama of the resignation and held the reader’s attention. While the resignation story was widely covered, Dawsey reported details others simply did not have. Beautifully reported and written.

Edgar A. Poe Award

The Edgar A. Poe Award goes to Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Tim Reid, Lisa Girion, Grant Smith and team from Reuters for the report, Shock Tactics.

Judges called the 18-month examination of Taser-related deaths and litigation “stunning, new and disturbing. The series involved impressive reporting from multiple angles, revealing the risks of a weapon that is not supposed to be lethal, but often is. The project was considered in 2015 during the summer of protests over police shootings, when the nation’s focus turned to safer policing.  Journalists learned Tasers, mostly used against the unarmed, were not the answer, identifying more than 1,000 incidents in which people died after being stunned by police. The project, relevant to every community, stood out in a sea of powerful contenders.”

Honorable Mentions

An honorable mention in The Merriman Smith Award for broadcast goes to Lester Holt of NBC News.

NBC’s Lester Holt did what every journalist only dreams of. He landed the most important interview with the most important subject at the most important moment. Holt’s 2017 interview with President Donald Trump had the embattled leader admit – on camera – that he did in fact fire former FBI Director James Comey because of his investigation into Russian involvement into the 2016 election. And, as they say, the rest is indeed history.

An honorable mention in The Merriman Smith Award for print goes to Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade.

Chris Johnson was the first to report that President Donald Trump had fired all the members of his AIDS advisory committee. Despite the fact that the firings occurred a few days after Christmas, Johnson was able to track down sources to confirm the story on the record. Other media outlets quickly picked up the story, crediting Johnson’s reporting. His quick deadline story was crisply written and provided extensive detail and background.

An honorable mention in the Edgar A. Poe Award goes to Norah O’Donnell of CBS This Morning for reports on Sexual Assault in the Air Force Academy.

From the judges: This six-month investigation found current and former cadets who had reported sexual assault in the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They were met with retaliation by commanders as well as peers. The project was comprehensive in the way it laid out the story, introduced us to victims and substantiated the human toll with documentation and solid sourcing.

An honorable mention in the Edgar A. Poe Award goes to Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan of Politico for their reporting on Tom Price’s Private Jet Travel.

Judges agreed with Politico that coverage of Cabinet member Tom Price’s use of taxpayer-funded private aircraft was one of the most consequential stories of the year. The thorough, enterprising and meticulously documented reporting revealed wrongdoing by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and forced his resignation. Judges praised the story for setting the tone and the template for accountability reporting in the Trump administration.


The Aldo Beckman Memorial Award for presidential news coverage recognizes a correspondent who personifies the journalistic excellence as well as the personal qualities exemplified by Aldo Beckman, the award-winning correspondent of the Chicago Tribune and former WHCA president. Competition is open to all journalists who cover the White House on a regular basis, or whose reporting is primarily devoted to coverage of the White House or the presidency. There is a prize of $1,000.

The Merriman Smith Memorial award honors presidential news coverage under deadline pressure. The fund award is in memory of the late Merriman Smith of United Press International, a White House correspondent for more than 30 years.  The award was conceived to perpetuate Mr. Smith’s memory and to promote the excellence he brought to his profession. It is given in two categories: broadcast and print. Each includes a prize of $2,500.

The Edgar A. Poe Award honors excellence in news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance to the American people. It is in honor of Edgar A. Poe, a longtime correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and a former WHCA president.   In selecting a recipient, the judges will be looking for excellence in stories with fairness and objectivity.  Exemplary personal qualities may also be considered.

WHCA announces President’s Award for Martha Joynt Kumar

The White House Correspondents’ Association is very happy to announce that it will present The President’s Award to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar at the association’s annual dinner on Saturday, April 28.

The President’s Award honors exceptional service to the WHCA. It is being given on the recommendation of association president Margaret Talev and the approval of the association board.

“Martha is a treasure to White House correspondents – an incredible resource who is uniquely accessible in real time because of her regular presence in the briefing room and press workspace and her ongoing discussions with the administration,” Talev said. “When covering a president who prides himself on upending the status quo and leaving his own mark on traditions, it’s especially valuable to have Martha’s expertise to help put his words and actions in context with past administrations.”

Martha Joynt Kumar is a scholar of the presidency and the press who has spent two decades recording and analyzing the relationship between journalists and the White House.

She has been of great service to members of the White House Correspondents’ Association with her unique statistics on how often journalists get to question the president. She is frequently quoted in news stories in all media. Her authoritative records are used by the association in its work to gain access to the president and administration officials.

Martha represents that special bridge between the “first draft of history” that we do and the presidential- and executive-branch historians who put our work into context.

She is the author of “Managing the President’s Message: The White House Communications Operation” and several other books and articles on the way the press and presidency work. She is an emeritus Professor in the Department of Political Science at Towson University, director of the White House Transition Project, and a board member of the White House Historical Association.