John Chancellor Award

The John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, founded in 1995, is presented each year to a reporter with courage and integrity for cumulative professional accomplishments. The prize honors the legacy of pioneering television correspondent and longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor.

2016 John Chancellor Award Winner Announced

New York, NY, Aug. 10, 2016 — Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism announced today that Gwen Ifill, an American political journalist, broadcast news anchor and author, is the recipient of the 2016 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. Ifill is co-anchor and managing editor of "PBS NewsHour" and moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill." As one of the country's most trusted political reporters, Ifill is in the midst of covering her eighth presidential election and moderated two vice presidential debates over the course of her career, posing difficult questions with respect and integrity.

The John Chancellor Award is presented each year to a journalist for his or her cumulative accomplishments. The prize honors the legacy of pioneering television correspondent and longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor. Selected by a nine-member committee, Ifill receives the 2016 award with a $50,000 honorarium. For the first time since the prize was founded in 1995, the amount of the honorarium will increase from $25,000 to $50,000. Ifill is the first African American to receive the award in its 21-year history.

The award will be presented at a dinner and ceremony at Columbia University's Low Library in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016.

“Gwen Ifill's career embodies the best of our profession and the spirit of the John Chancellor Award: her unflinching pursuit of the truth, healthy skepticism of those in power and her commitment to fairness,” said Dean Steve Coll, a member of the Chancellor jury.

In 2013, PBS named Ifill and Judy Woodruff co-anchors of "PBS NewsHour," the first women co-anchors of a network news broadcast. Each week on Washington Week, Ifill also leads a robust roundtable discussion with award-winning journalists who provide reporting and analysis of the major stories coming out of the capital. Washington Week is the longest-running U.S. prime-time news and public affairs program on television.

“Gwen is among our nation's most accomplished, distinguished journalists, and her insightful reporting and news analysis are an extraordinary service to the American public,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcasting station in the nation's capital.  “On behalf of Gwen's colleagues at WETA — home of "PBS NewsHour" and "Washington Week" — I congratulate her on receiving this tremendous award.”

In addition to anchoring daily and weekly news broadcasts, Ifill moderates town hall meetings on PBS, coordinating respectful dialogue about current issues while crossing contentious lines and challenging assumptions. Recent town halls include “Questions for President Obama” in June 2016, “America After Charleston,” held in September 2015 just blocks from where a white gunman shot and killed nine African-American parishioners in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and “America After Ferguson,” broadcast in September 2014, which explored the complex questions raised around race, class and identity in the wake of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ifill is the best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”

Before joining "PBS NewsHour" and "Washington Week" in 1999, she was chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News, White House correspondent for The New York Times, and a local and national political reporter for The Washington Post. She also reported for the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American. Her work as a journalist has been honored by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center, and Ebony Magazine. In 2015 she was awarded the National Press Club's highest honor, the Fourth Estate Award.

She has received more than 25 honorary doctorates and currently serves on the boards of the News Literacy Project and the Committee to Protect Journalists. She is a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences. Born in New York City, Ifill graduated from Simmons College in Boston.

The John Chancellor Award was established in 1995 by Ira A. Lipman, founder of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world's largest security service firms. The jury is chaired by Lynn Sherr, and in addition to Lipman includes Dean Steve Coll, Dean Emeritus Nicholas Lemann, Hank Klibanoff, Michele Norris, Bill Wheatley and Mark Whitaker, as well as John Chancellor's daughter Mary Chancellor.

Columbia Journalism School administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for reporting on the Americas. For over a century, the journalism school has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers Master of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.


The recipient of the $50,000 John Chancellor Award is selected each year by a distinguished panel of journalists who look across the media landscape to identify a reporter who may not be widely known by the public but who is highly respected within the profession for the caliber of his or her work.

The award was established in 1995 by Ira A. Lipman, founder of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world's largest security service firms. Lipman provided a gift to Columbia University to support the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism and to fund scholarships at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The Chancellor Scholarships provide significant financial aid to students who have the leadership qualities exemplified by John Chancellor.

Ira Lipman became a lifelong friend of John Chancellor after the two met in Little Rock, Ark. in 1957. Chancellor, the NBC News correspondent in Little Rock, was reporting on the desegregation struggle at Central High School, and Lipman became Chancellor’s trusted source. Shining a national spotlight on this gripping regional story, the quality of Chancellor’s informed and insightful reporting propelled him to national attention. He became an anchor of NBC’s Today program and an anchor and commentator for NBC Nightly News. Chancellor is best remembered for the depth of his reporting and his rare personal grace and civility. Lipman subsequently founded Guardsmark, LL.

The Chancellor Scholarships were awarded for the first time in August 2005, and are currently providing financial assistance for M.S. students. The criteria for scholarship assistance are financial need, academic achievement, and commitment to leadership in print or broadcast journalism.

How to Enter

Nominations for the 2017 John Chancellor Award will open on March 6, 2017.

To be entered for consideration, journalists must be nominated. The nominator will need to fill out the Chancellor Application form. This form will be available in March 2017.

For print nominations: a pdf file with legible pages of the nomination material is recommended. For broadcast nominations: a list of working permanent links to programming is recommended.

Required Supporting Materials:

  • A nominating letter by someone other than the journalist that includes a brief summary of journalistic accomplishments. The Chancellor Board looks for sustained journalistic accomplishments over time, where the journalist’s reporting as a whole is greater than any single story he or she may have covered. Please explain the impact of the reporting.
  • Nominations may have up to three letters of support.
  • Resumé or CV, including any major awards received.
  • Provide 5­-10 examples of the person's best work:

Newspaper/Magazine Nominee: 5­-10 significant newspaper or magazine stories by the nominee. Please link to stories or include PDFs. If sending PDFs please include articles in the original layout, if possible. Photocopies of PDFs must be easy to read.

Broadcast/TV or Radio Nominee: 5­-10 significant broadcast stories by the nominee. TV and radio stories should be submitted just as they aired, without reediting. Contact the Chancellor Award office for coverage of breaking news stories, if applicable. Please provide links to stories.

This award is intended for a journalist whose principal audience is in the U.S. If the original reporting is in a language other than English, transcripts or subtitles in English must be provided.


Current & Past Winners

See current and past winners:





Notable Work


Gwen Ifill

Co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour and moderator and managing editor of Washington Week with Gwen Ifill


“PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate," “America After Charleston," “Political Divide on Immigration Reform Looms Over Families," “Obama: Diplomatic Solution to Syria ‘Overwhelmingly My Preference'," “March on Washington 50th Anniversary"


Alissa J. Rubin

Paris bureau chief

The New York Times

Afghan Policewomen Struggle Against Culture,” “On a Helicopter, Going Down: Inside a Lethal Crash in Iraq,”  “Afghan Rape Case Turns Focus on Local Police,” “How Baida Wanted to Die,” “In a Cold Room, Memories of a Life of Flowers.”


Martin Smith

Writer, producer, correspondent


Money, Power & Wall Street,” “Obama’s War,” “Heat,” “Return of the Taliban,” “The Storm,” “Truth, War & Consequences


Richard Engel

Chief foreign correspondent

NBC News

Inside North Korea,” “Arab Spring - Egypt,” “War Zone Diary, "I can't keep this up much longer," “Syrian refugees look to America for help,” “Interivew with President George W. Bush (2008),” “Richard Engel rides with combat troops leaving Iraq


Maria Hinojosa

News anchor and reporter


"America By the Numbers," "Frontline, Lost In Detention," "The Bronx River," "Who's Helping Our Wounded Vets?"


David Evans

Senior writer

Bloomberg Markets

“Duping the Families of Fallen Soldiers,” “The Hidden Pension Fiasco,” “The Ratings Charade,” “How Test Companies Fail Your Kids,” “Big Pharma’s Shameful Secret”


Robert Siegel


NPR’s All Things Considered

Michael Chertoff Defends Rescue Efforts in New Orleans,” “Troy & Tovan,” “Childhood on Trial,” “Covering the Chengdu Earthquake


Ken Armstrong

Investigative reporter

The Seattle Times

"Failure of the Death Penalty in Illinois," "Trial & Error," "Victory and Ruins," "School district ignored warnings, then silenced girls fondled by teacher"


Jane Mayer

Staff Writer

The New Yorker


Andrew C. Revkin

Science Correspondent

The New York TImes



Ofra Bikel



The Case for Innocence,” “An Ordinary Crime,” “The O.J. Verdict,” “Requiem for Frank Lee Smith” “Saving Elian,” “The Unexpected Candidate


Henry Weinstein


Los Angeles Times

Democracy Now,” “Bay Area Indy Media,” “TruthDig,” “LA Observed,” “Take Back the Times,” “LA Times story on Henry Weinstein,” “CJR Daily ‘Henry Weinstein On What Great Journalism Can and Cannot Do’”


Jerry Mitchell

Investigative Reporter

The Clarion-Ledger

Jerry Mitchell interview on NPR’s Fresh Air,” “View Video of Award Ceremony


Linda Greenhouse


The New York Times


Mary McGrory


Washington Post


Jim Wooten

Senior Correspondent

ABC News


John Herbers

Washington correspondent (Ret.)

The New York Times


Claude Sitton

Editor (Ret.)

The News & Observer


Paul Duke

Moderator (Ret.), “Washington Week in Review”



John Kifner

Senior foreign correspondent

The New York Times


Wilson F. “Bill” Minor


The Times-Picayune



Selection Committee

See judges:

Mary Chancellor Chancellor Family  
Steve Coll Dean & Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Hank Klibanoff Director of the Journalism Program, James M. Cox Jr. Professor Emory University
Nicholas Lemann Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism; Dean Emeritus Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Ira A. Lipman Founder John Chancellor Award
Guardsmark, LLC
Michele Norris Former Host, "All Things Considered" National Public Radio
Lynn Sherr Former Correspondent ABC News
Bill Wheatley Former Executive Vice President NBC News
Mark Whitaker Former news executive CNN, NBC News, and Newsweek



John Chancellor Award
Caroline Martinet, Program Manager
2950 Broadway MC3805
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-­854-­6468
Fax: 212­-854­-3148

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