By Al Cross
Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
Monday is the deadline to nominate journalists for the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, presented by The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the six years the award has been presented, none of the winners have been rural journalists. None may have been nominated, but I think there should be no shortage of qualified candidates because rural journalists frequently deal with ethical challenges. I teach my community journalism students that it is more difficult do do good journalism in rural areas, partly because of the constant conflict that rural journalists must deal with, between their professional responsibilities and their personal desires.
The Anthony Shadid Award recognizes ethical decisions in reporting stories in any journalistic medium, including print, broadcast and digital, by those working for established news organizations or publishing individually. It focuses on current journalism and does not include books, documentaries and other long-term projects. Entries must involve reporting for stories published or broadcast in 2017. Individuals or news organizations may nominate themselves or others.
Letters of nomination must include: Name and contact information of the nominators and their relationship to the story; names of the reporter or reporting team that produced the report; brief description of the story and a link to it online; description of conflicting values encountered in reporting the story; options considered to resolve the conflicts; and final decisions and rationales behind them. Nomination letters of three pages or less should be saved in pdf format and attached to an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the website.
The award includes a $1,000 prize and travel expenses to accept the award and discuss the reporting at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 5. It differs from most other journalism awards because it honors difficult decisions journalists make in pursuing high-impact stories while fulfilling their ethical obligations to their audience, their sources, and people caught up in news events. “The stories nominated are always phenomenal, but the committee makes the decision on the finalists and winners by considering how reporters and editors negotiated ethical dilemmas while reporting,” said Lucas Graves, chair of the judging committee.
The award is named for Anthony Shadid, a UW-Madison graduate who died in 2012 on a reporting assignment in Syria for The New York Times after winning two Pulitzer Prizes for foreign correspondence. He was a member of the ethics center’s advisory board and strongly supported its efforts to promote public interest journalism and to stimulate discussion about journalism ethics.