The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award

The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award honors the late New York Herald Tribune reporter, and recognizes outstanding achievements in reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States.

How to Nominate

The 2018 Tobenkin Award is open for nominations. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award and its $1,500 prize is given for distinguished reporting about race, discrimination and religious intolerance. Authors may submit a portfolio of single articles or a published series. Print, radio, broadcast, and digital reporting are eligible for the award. All entries must have been published in the U.S. during 2017, though in the case of a series or ongoing story, work that appeared in January 2018 will be accepted.

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. There is no entry fee.

To nominate a journalist, please submit the following materials:

  • A brief letter from the editor indicating the scope of the reporter's work, including links to any websites created for the project.
  • A brief biography of the reporter.
  • Up to five articles published in 2017 that best typify the reporter's work.

Please keep in mind:

  • Published stories may take the form of a single project, a portfolio of the reporter’s best work or 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.



The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award was established at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1959—during the heart of the civil rights movement—to honor Paul Tobenkin, The New York Herald Tribune reporter’s work and to recognize outstanding achievements in reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States.

The award honors the reporting of stories that ferret out instances of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination. Authors may submit a portfolio of single pieces or a published series. 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.

Newsday Correspondent Bonnie Angelo received the award in 1961 for her series, “The Battle for Prince Edward, Virginia.” At the time, Prince Edward County shut down its public school system to avoid integration as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Angelo was cited for her “well reported, well documented and researched and extremely well written series” that brought quick action by the U.S. government and aid from Long Island residents to help black students unable to attend schools.

Past awards highlighted the work of The Denver Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Reporter for racial and ethnic reporting that exposed uncovered discrimination and challenged the status quo. The Let’s Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity also incorporated the Tobenkin Award in its list of workshop honorees.

2017 Tobenkin Award Winner & Special Citation

Columbia Journalism School faculty have named Jenni Monet, an independent journalist, the winner of the 2017 Tobenkin Award for her exceptional coverage of the Standing Rock Sioux battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. CJS faculty have also awarded a special citation to Will Evans, a reporter for Reveal, for his account of the widespread employer practice of using temp agencies to discriminate against workers based on race, gender, age, and even sexual orientation. 
Evans accepted a special citation. Monet accepted a $1,500 honorarium and spoke to Columbia Journalism students and professors at Columbia University’s annual Journalism Day on May 16, 2017. 
Jenni Monet judges’ citation: “The standoff between protesters and police over a $3.8 billion conduit of crude oil that is believed to threaten a primary source of drinking water in the Missouri River gained national attention. Monet is an independent journalist who is herself a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe of New Mexico. Her work stands apart as a reporter who chronicled with depth and clarity the occupation by the Standing Rock protesters who call themselves ‘water protectors,’ and the concussion grenades, rubber bullets, and mass arrests with which they were met. Combining a deeply informed historical, cultural, and political frame of reference with compelling narratives, Monet showed how a deep racial divide, poverty, and marginalization of the Lakota Sioux made their act of resistance and the response by police an episode that was decades in the making.  Quoting both protesters and law enforcement, Monet explained how the protests had become for many a fight for religious freedom and human rights. She wrote about how demonstrators forming prayer circles on the occupied land were tear gassed and arrested, some saying they were tagged and placed in cage-like holding facilities.
Last September, Monet embedded herself in the protest encampment during the harsh North Dakota winter, reporting in a volatile environment where no one could guarantee her safety. While covering one of many confrontations between protesters and police, Monet was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in riots, despite identifying herself to police as a journalist.”
Monet writes about indigenous people’s rights and struggles around the globe. She received an MA in international politics from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, a tribal nation in New Mexico. 
Will Evans judges’ citation: “Reporting for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, Evans reviewed government and whistleblower lawsuits nationwide and interviewed dozens of former temp agency employees to piece together a shocking pattern of discriminatory hiring. He highlighted the Alabama-based temp agency Automation Personnel Services as an example of how employees felt pressured to cater to clients who requested workers of a specific race or gender. Some, but not all, of these illegal requests were overt. A local gun wholesaler, for example, asked for ‘country boys’ to indicate that only white men were hirable. Other agencies use code words like ‘vanilla cupcake’ or ‘Mohammeds’ to filter workers of a particular race, gender, or national origin in order to satisfy the demands of clients. 
Reveal partnered with other media, including Spanish-language news outlets in several states, to report on this practice amid a booming temp industry. The reporting prompted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch an investigation. The EEOC also announced a five-year enforcement plan that included a focus on rooting out discrimination in the temp industry.”

Evans covers labor and workplace issues for Reveal. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee. He also has written for the Chilean newspaper La Tercera and worked as a freelancer overseas. 

Tobenkin Award judges this year: Elena Cabral, Jelani Cobb, Keith Gessen.

Jenni Monet’s Winning Work:

Special Citation - Will Evans’s Work:

Past Winners

See past winners:







Terrence McCoy (J’12 MA Politics graduate)

The Washington Post

Investigative stories about lead poisoning victims [Part 1Part 2Part 3]

Elena Cabral, June Cross and Abi Wright


Mark Puente

The Baltimore Sun

Undue Force

Elena Cabral, Barbara Kantrowitz and Abi Wright


Susan Ferriss

Center for Public Integrity

“Throwaway Kids”

Elena Cabral, June Cross, Barbara Kantrowitz


Nikole Hannah-Jones


"Living Apart: Fair Housing in America"

Elena Cabral, June Cross and Barbara Kantrowitz


Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan

The Associated Press

Series outlining the NYPD’s surveillance of minority and particularly Muslim neighborhoods since the 9/11 terror attacks

Elena Cabral, Howard French and Barbara Kantrowitz


Tina Griego

The Denver Post

Raising Sun Valley

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Nina Bernstein

The New York Times

Series of articles that documented the mistreatment of immigrants in federal custody

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


The Chauncey Bailey Project

Collaboration of a number of journalists and Bay Area news organizations

The project was conceived to probe the assassination of an Oakland journalist who was investigating a business called “Your Black Muslim Bakery.”

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Michael Riley

The Denver Post

Lawless Lands,”

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Alysia Tate

The Chicago Reporter

“Chicago Matters”

Columbia Journalism School Faculty


Steve Hymon, Mitchell Landsberg, Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Robert Gauthier

The Los Angeles Times

The Troubles at King/Drew

Columbia Journalism School Faculty




The Tobenkin Award is judged by Columbia Journalism School faculty.

Contact Us

Caroline Martinet, Program Manager, Tobenkin Award

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