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.

2021 Berger Award Winner

Joe Sexton, a reporter and senior editor at ProPublica, has won the 2021 Meyer “Mike” Berger Award for his story showing two sides of the criminal justice system: a teenage boy named Nelson Cruz who was convicted for a 1998 murder solely on the testimony of one biased and tainted witness, and a judge afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s who heard his appeal decades later. 


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.

How to Enter

Nominations for the 2022 Berger Award will open in early 2022.

The Meyer "Mike" Berger Award and its $1,500 prize is awarded for outstanding human interest reporting across platforms. Print, radio, broadcast and digital reporting are eligible for the award. All entries must have been published in the U.S. during 2020, though in the case of a series or ongoing story, work that appeared in January 2021 will be accepted. Journalists who report in a foreign language should submit copies of original stories with an English translation. No entry fee is required.


How to Nominate

ALL materials should be formatted and uploaded as PDFs. Supporting multimedia presentations can be sent as URLs. Links must remain live.

If you know a journalist who deserves to be recognized, please submit the completed nomination form and pertinent material.

To nominate a journalist, please submit the following materials:

  • A brief letter from the editor indicating the scope of the reporter's work.
  • A brief biography of the reporter.
  • Up to five articles/pieces published in 2020 that best typify the reporter’s work.

Please keep in mind:

  • A series must be designated as such by the publication when it is printed; a regular column may also be submitted as a series.
  • If material lives online, please provide direct links.
  • For all visual elements, the name of the photographer or graphic artist should be included on all entry forms.
  • Supporting material will not be returned.

Past Winners

See past winners:






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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