The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University announced the winners of the 2020-2021 Shaufler Prize in Journalism, which recognizes the best journalism in the country that advances the understanding of stories and issues related to underserved people in society, such as communities of color, immigrants and LGBTQ+.
The winning journalists will split $20,000 in cash awards in the professional and student journalist categories.
Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte, along with the staff of The Washington Post, won first place for their story, “Born with Two Strikes: How systemic racism shaped Floyd’s life and hobbled his ambition,” which was part of the series, “George Floyd’s America.” The series examines the role of systemic racism in Floyd’s life, and the institutional and societal roadblocks Floyd encountered as a Black man.
Olorunnipa is a Nigerian-American journalist and political commentator whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald and other publications. He is also an on-air contributor to CNN.
“I’m honored to receive an award that represents such a noble and critical mission — using the power of journalism to tell the stories of marginalized people. A tragic truth about George Floyd’s life is that his struggle to breathe as a Black man in America began decades before a police officer’s knee landed on his neck,” Olorunnipa said. “My colleagues and I set out to reveal the intricacies of that struggle and the institutional forces that make life so difficult for millions of people like Floyd, and I’m grateful to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for honoring the kind of reporting that focuses on people who are far too often neglected by society.”
Witte is a national correspondent at The Washington Post, covering a range of issues across America that includes racial justice, political polarization and urban affairs. Prior to his current role, he was a longtime foreign correspondent and editor, having reported from dozens of countries and having served as the Post’s bureau chief in Kabul, Islamabad, Jerusalem, London and Berlin.
“My colleagues and I launched our work on the George Floyd’s America series because we believed it was critical for readers to understand this man’s life, not just the horrific manner of his death. Our reporting revealed that Floyd’s 46 years on earth were profoundly shaped by the racial disparities and injustices that permeate virtually every facet of American life, including housing, education, law enforcement, the prison system and health care.
“I am profoundly grateful to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for recognizing our work with the Shaufler Prize in Journalism. Reporting on marginalized people — those whose stories would otherwise go unnoticed and untold — is among the most essential missions of journalism,” Witte said.
Lizzie Presser of ProPublica took second place with “Tethered to the Machine,” which tells the story of JaMarcus Crews, who tried to get a new kidney, but corporate healthcare stood in the way. Presser covers health, inequality and how policy is experienced.
Maria Perez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received third place for “The Long Way Home” about migrant workers at a Wisconsin green bean plant dying of COVID-19. Perez is an investigative reporter covering issues that affect minority communities and social services.
Mauricio Rodríguez Pons of ProPublica received honorable mention for his video “Unlivable Oasis,” which examines the intersection of climate change, the struggle to find livable housing, and the climate gap between poor and rich communities.
In the student category, the Cronkite School’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism took the top prize for “Little Victims Everywhere.” Students Brendon Derr, Rylee Kirk, Anne Mickey, Allison Vaughn, McKenna Leavens and Leilani Fitzpatrick reported and produced the series, which examines child sexual abuse in Indian Country.
Paul B. Anderson, the principal & CEO of Workhouse Media in Seattle, Washington, established The Shaufler Prize in Journalism in honor of his late friend, Ed Shaufler, who died in late 2020 and who cared deeply about promoting understanding of underrepresented people.
“Congratulations to the winners of the Shaufler Prize in Journalism. I was thrilled to hear that the inaugural award had garnered so many submissions. I was even more impressed to read through the thoughtful reporting and impactful storytelling written by the extraordinary journalists whose work is so critical to shedding light on the people and issues raised in the stories,” Anderson said. “Thank you to the distinguished group of journalists who served as the selection panel and the amazing, high integrity professional team at the Cronkite School for working so diligently to make The Shaufler Prize so meaningful.”
“The Cronkite School is honored to serve as the home of the Shaufler Prize in Journalism. We are truly grateful to Paul Anderson for his incredible generosity that made this national contest possible and for recognizing the critical role that journalists play in ensuring voices from marginalized communities are heard,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. “The Cronkite School extends its sincere congratulations to the inaugural group of Shaufler Prize winners, and we thank them for their important work.”
Entries for the 2021 Shaufler Prize were evaluated by the following judges:
- Jennifer Dokes, founder of JDD Specialties; former Viewpoints editor, The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
- Sharif Durhams, managing editor, the News & Observer in North Carolina; president, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
- Lee Edwards, manager, The Real Chi, a learning newsroom program by Free Spirit Media; board member of National Association of Black Journalists Chicago chapter
- Kristin Gilger, Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and executive director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism
- Steve Kilar, director of strategic communications, ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy; president, Arizona Chapter of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
- Nora Lopez, executive editor, San Antonio Express-News; president, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- Asha Saluja, senior managing producer, Pineapple Street Media; former managing producer, Slate Podcasts
- Shondiin Silversmith, reporter, The Arizona Mirror
- Jeffrey Timmermans, Donald W. Reynolds Chair Professor in Business Journalism, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
- Griselda Zetino, reporter, KTAR news
About the Cronkite School
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs and has received international acclaim for its innovative use of the “teaching hospital” model. Rooted in the time-honored values that characterize its namesake — accuracy, responsibility, objectivity, integrity — the school fosters journalistic excellence and ethics in both the classroom and in its 13 professional programs that fully immerse students in the practice of journalism and related fields. Arizona PBS, one of the nation’s largest public television stations, is part of Cronkite, making it the largest media outlet operated by a journalism school in the world. Learn more at cronkite.asu.edu.