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Jonathan Karl with McKay Coppins, winner of the Aldo Beckman Award. Photo for WHCA by Mike Theiler.

Awards 2019

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WHCA Journalism Awards honor reporting on President Trump, his cabinet, and poor housing for military families.

The White House Correspondents’ Association is pleased to announce that journalists from The Atlantic, Fox News, Reuters and the Washington Post are the winners of our 2019 journalism awards.

The awards will be presented at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday, April 27 at the Washington Hilton.

 “Congratulations to these excellent journalists! The WHCA looks forward to honoring them at our annual dinner, a celebration of the First Amendment and the importance of a free and independent news media to a healthy republic,” said Olivier Knox, WHCA president and chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM.

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:

The Aldo Beckman Award

This award recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage.

The Aldo Beckman Award goes to McKay Coppins of The Atlantic.

From the judges:

Reading McKay Coppins’ stories is sheer joy – amazing storytelling. Coppins’ stories about Mike Pence, Sean Spicer, Stephen Miller and other political players were impossible to put down.  His stories sewed together a lot details to create complex portraits that increase our understanding of the current administration. His voice is refreshing.

Read the stories here:

God’s Plan for Mike Pence – The Atlantic

How the Swamp Drained Trump – The Atlantic

Sean Spicer Returns to Washington With a New Memoir – The Atlantic

Stephen Miller_ Trump’s Right-Hand Troll – The Atlantic

Duncan Hunter’s Anti-Muslim Midterms Campaign – The Atlantic

Sam Nunberg’s Blustering, Baffling Afternoon in the Spotlight – The Atlantic

An Honorable Mention goes to Ashley Parker of The Washington Post.

From the judges: Her vibrant, colorful and eminently readable stories inform and enlighten us about the inner workings and thinking of the Trump administration. It is solid, in-the-moment reporting.

Merriman Smith Award

The Merriman Smith Memorial Award for excellence in presidential news coverage under deadline pressure is offered in two categories: PRINT including newspaper, wire service and magazine and BROADCAST including Radio and television.

The Merriman Smith Award for print goes to Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post for his story, “Trump derides protections for immigrants from shithole countries.”

From the judges:

Josh Dawsey relied on multiple sources for his exclusive report on language used by President Trump in a meeting on immigration with members of the Senate. The president described immigrants as coming from “shithole countries,” wondered why the U.S. couldn’t admit more immigrants from countries like Norway and singled out Haitians as immigrants he wanted to block. The language became one of the emblematic phrases of the administration, used to illustrate the president’s desire to curtail immigration, especially from countries in Central America and Africa. Dawsey worked on deadline, but added context and detail as he worked on the story. His entry epitomizes the criteria for the Merriman Smith Award – speed, accuracy, objectivity and initiative.

See the story here.

The Merriman Smith Award for broadcast goes to Ed Henry of Fox News for his interview with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

From the judges:

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was already in trouble over ethical matters when he sat down for an interview with Fox News Chief National Correspondent Ed Henry. If he thought he was going to get softball questions, he soon learned otherwise. Henry, in the words of the Washington Post, lobbed question after question at Pruitt to ask him about big pay increases for cronies and a sweetheart deal for renting an apartment from a lobbyist. Pruitt struggled to answer and soon found himself out of a job. Henry was prepared, knew his facts and marshalled them for a penetrating interview, which made news, all under deadline pressure.

See the story here.

An Honorable mention for the Merriman Smith Award in broadcast goes to CNN, Confirmation vote on Brett Kavanaugh.

From the judges: CNN’s coverage on the day of the hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was aggressive, relied on deep sourcing and felt like one was watching a symphony. The news-making moments in which Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, was confronted by two women was just a piece of the extensive coverage that followed every angle, all day. See the coverage here.

 

The Edgar A. Poe Award

The Edgar A. Poe Award honors excellence in news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance, written with fairness and objectivity.

The Edgar A. Poe Award goes to “Ambushed at Home” by Joshua Schneyer, Michael Pell, Andrea Januta and Deborah Nelson of Reuters.

From the judges:

Reuters’ “Ambushed at Home” series exposes an area where the government has failed military families – hitting them literally where they live. The privatization of military housing was supposed to bring substandard Pentagon-owned homes up to snuff, but 20 years in Reuters found families “living in slum-like squalor,” with high levels of lead, vermin, mold, leaking ceilings and foul water. And it found that families on base have virtually none of the protections against landlords that renters in the civilian world do. Using meticulous records and data research, deep reporting – often against official pushback and sources’ reluctance to come forward – and straightforward writing, the Reuters team  showed families put in danger, a military that often looked the other way and private investors who profited from it all. The judges felt the reporting “uncovered a situation that is remarkably damning” and – most important – has already resulted in action from Congress, the Pentagon and individual base commanders. “Ambushed at Home” fully meets the Edgar A. Poe Award criteria of “news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance to the American people,” and is a deserving winner of the award.

See the series here

An Honorable mention for the Edgar A. Poe Award goes to “Hidden Cost” by The Weather Channel Digital/Telemundo

From the judges:

In an exceptionally strong field of candidates, the Weather Channel and Telemundo documentary “Hidden Cost” stood out for its emotional punch and clear-eyed depiction of the problem of child and migrant farm labor. Almost 60 years after Edward R. Murrow’s “Harvest of Shame” brought the issue of migrant labor to light, “Hidden Cost” shows that the problem is still very much with us. Producer Solly Granatstein and correspondent John Carlos Frey spent months finding and then following one migrant family, using their travels and travails to show that the dangerous and backbreaking work, the sub-minimum-wage pay and the challenges that make it all but impossible to get an education or escape the fields have not gone away. It is a problem that every American has a hand in and the Weather Channel and Telemundo’s coverage of it is deserving of recognition.

 

ABOUT THE AWARDS

The Aldo Beckman 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 judges for the Beckman award this year:

Ellen Shearer, William F. Thomas Professor of Journalism, Medill School of Journalism Washington Program

Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

          Jackie Jones, Assistant Dean – Programs, Chair of the Departnent

          of Multimedia Journalism, Morgan State University School of

          Global Journalism & Communication

The Merriman Smith Award honors presidential news coverage under deadline pressure. The 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 judges for the Merriman Smith Award this year are:

Barbara Cochran, Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism and Washington Program Director, Missouri School of Journalism

Amy Eisman, Director of the Journalism Division at the School of Communication, American University

Yanick Rice Lamb, Chair of the Howard University Department of Media, Journalism and Film

 

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. 

         The judges for the Edgar Poe Award this year are:

Steve Crane, Cronkite News/Arizona PBS, Arizona State University, Washington, DC;

Ted Bridis, Rob Hiaasen Lecturer in Investigative Reporting, University of Florida

          Sandy K. Johnson, president of the National Press Foundation

           Charles F. Whitaker, Interim Dean, Medill School of Journalism,

           Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern

           University

For more information, contact WHCA Executive Director Steve Thomma at 202-266-7453 or director@whca.press