The Meyer “Mike” Berger Award | Columbia Journalism School

The Meyer “Mike” Berger Award

The Berger Award, named after the late New York Times reporter Meyer “Mike” Berger, is awarded to a reporter(s) for an outstanding example of in­-depth, human interest reporting.

How to Enter

The 2023 Berger Award is now for nominations. 

Enter here.

Deadline March 10, 2023.

2022 Mike Berger Award Winner

2022 Berger Award Jurors’ Citation:

Evan Allen is the winner of the 2022 Meyer “Mike” Berger Award for her Boston Globe story entitled, “Under the Wheel.” Her story documents the life of Anthony Pledger, who is from what Boston cops call a “dynasty family.” Pledger’s father, mother, brothers, uncles and great uncles all had long and violent criminal records. These families, as Allen writes, “pass violence like an heirloom from one generation to the next.”

After covering crime for years, Allen sought to understand this phenomenon, rooted in impoverished neighborhoods. She found Pledger, serving time in federal prison, and got to know him the only way possible: through letters they wrote to each other over three years--2,000 pages of correspondence. Allen also hit the streets, talking to people who knew Pledger and his family, and she dug into court and other records. Some of the judges themselves have reported on crime, and they’ve never seen a story like this. Through deep reporting, Allen comes as close as possible to what all long-form narrative writers hope to accomplish--inhabiting the inner psyche of a character. With elegant prose,  Allen dissects the “why” behind Pledger’s actions. The story is chilling and dark, and yet at the same time reveals a man trying to reckon with his past. The 1959 New York Times obituary for Mike Berger stated:  “In the field of human interest...he was supreme.” Allen embodies exactly this spirit in “Under the Wheel.”

Read the full announcement.


Members of the faculty of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism judge the entries. The award, which consists of a certificate from Columbia and a $1,500 prize, is conferred annually at the School’s Journalism Day ceremony in May.

Berger won a 1950 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for his story on a veteran who went on a shooting spree in Camden, New Jersey, killing several residents. He then re­introduced the newspaper’s “About New York” column in the early 1950s, setting the standard for evocative and eloquent human interest reporting. Berger passed away in 1959. Louis Schweitzer, a New York industrialist who admired Berger’s work, created the Berger Award in 1960.

Past Winners

See past winners:






2021 Joe Sexton ProPublica He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence" Joanne Faryon, Meg Kissinger, Dale Maharidge
2020 Thomas Curwen and Francine Orr Los Angeles Times The Street Within,” an immersive series that followed eight residents of a homeless encampment who were fast-tracked to apartments in South Los Angeles. Joanne Faryon, Meg Kissinger, Dale Maharidge
2019 Terrence McCoy The Washington Post A series on Americans who were challenged in deeply personal ways by some of the most significant political and social issues of the day including the opioid crisis and immigration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Joanne Faryon, Meg Kissinger, Dale Maharidge
2018 John Woodrow Cox The Washington Post A series on children affected by gun violence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 David Hajdu, Meg Kissinger, Karen Stabiner
2017 Eli Saslow The Washington Post A series showcasing pockets of suffering in white America: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 David Hajdu, Dale Maharidge, Paula Span


Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller

The Marshall Project and ProPublica

An Unbelievable Story of Rape

David Hajdu, Dale Maharidge and Ruth Padawer


Joanne Faryon and Brad Racino


An Impossible Choice: Deciding When a Life is No Longer Worth Living

Andie Tucher, David Hajdu and Dale Maharidge


Julia O’Malley

Anchorage Daily News

“The Things that Happen: Two Boys and Cancer”

Andie Tucher, David Hajdu and Jonathan Weiner


Sheri Fink


A series of pieces exploring the catastrophic consequences of bureaucratic, structural, and political failures during the deadly hurricane season of 2012.

David Hajdu, Michael Shapiro and Andie Tucher


John Branch

New York Times

Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer

Sheila Coronel, Andie Tucher and Dale Maharidge


Anne Barnard

New York Times

A Parish Tested

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Joanna Connors

The Plain Dealer

"The Sheltering Sky"

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Brendan McCarthy


Homicide 37

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Michael Paulson

The Boston Globe

"Ma Siss’s Place: The Birth of a Church"

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Abigail Tucker

The Baltimore Sun

2006 Reporting

Columbia Journalism School Faculty



For a full list of past recipients, click here (PDF).


The Berger Award is judged by Columbia Journalism School faculty.


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