The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award

The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award is given annually at graduation and 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. The award is judged by the faculty of the Journalism School.  #TobenkinAward 

The 2024 Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award has been announced. 

2024 Paul Tobenkin Award Winner

2024 Paul Tobenkin Award Winner Citation:

In this powerful series, reporters Brandi Kellam and Louis Hansen from the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism showed how the expansion of a university destroyed a once-vibrant Black community in Newport News, Virginia. The series digs deep into the city's race-based policies and the personal stories of those affected by the expansion, and how it reflects a disturbing pattern in higher education. The investigation showed that as Christopher Newport University's expansion squeezed out Black homeowners, its enrollment of Black students plummeted to 8 percent from 17 percent in 1996. Since its publication, the series spurred the creation of a task force by the city of Newport News and Christopher Newport University to examine the property acquisitions and make suggestions for some restorative justice for the displaced.

Read the full announcement.


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 all eligible for the award. All entries must have been published in the U.S. during 2023, though in the case of a series or ongoing story, work that appeared in January 2024 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. 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 2021 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 the work of Paul Tobenkin, the New York Herald Tribune reporter, and to recognize outstanding achievements in reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States.

Yvette Cabrera, Center for Public Integrity, Investigation of the devastating effects of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation.

Judges: Dolores A. Barclay, Duy Linh Tu and Elena Cabral

Ian Shapira, The Washington Post, Series of investigative stories that forced a reckoning at Virginia Military Institute, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Judges: Daniel Alarcón, Dolores A. Barclay and Ari Goldman 

Susan Ferriss, Joe Yerardi and Taylor Johnston (Winners), Center for Public Integrity, Hidden Hardship

Justine van der Leun (Finalist), Type Investigations, The Evidence Against Her

Judges: Nina Alvarez, Dolores A. Barclay and Elena Cabral

Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, Lawless  

Judges: Elena Cabral, Lisa R. Cohen and Ari Goldman

Ginger Thompson, Michael Grabell and Topher Sanders, ProPublica, Zero Tolerance

Judges: Daniel Alarcón, Elena Cabral and Lonnie Isabel

Reporters, ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union, Walking While Black  

Judges: Daniel Alarcón, Elena Cabral, Lonnie Isabel

Jenni Monet (Winner), independent journalist, Reveal, Coverage of the Standing Rock Sioux battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Will Evans (Special Citation), Account of the widespread employer practice of using temp agencies to discriminate against workers based on race, gender, age and even sexual orientation: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Judges: Elena Cabral, Jelani Cobb and Keith Gessen

Terrence McCoy (Winner, ’12 MA Politics graduate), The Washington Post, Investigative stories about lead poisoning victims: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Talia Buford, Ronnie Greene, Kristen Lombardi and Amber Payne (Special Citation), The Center for Public Integrity and NBCBLK, Environmental Justice, Denied

Judges: Elena Cabral, June Cross and Abi Wright

Mark Puente, The Baltimore Sun, Undue Force  

Judges: Elena Cabral, Barbara Kantrowitz and Abi Wright

Susan Ferriss, Center for Public Integrity, Throwaway Kids

Judges: Elena Cabral, June Cross and Barbara Kantrowitz

Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica, Living Apart: Fair Housing in America

Judges: 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

Judges: Elena Cabral, Howard French and Barbara Kantrowitz

Tina Griego, The Denver Post, Raising Sun Valley

Judges:Columbia Journalism School Faculty

Nina Bernstein, The New York Times, Series of articles documenting the mistreatment of immigrants in federal custody

Judges: 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.”      

Judges: Columbia Journalism School Faculty

Michael Riley, The Denver Post, Lawless Lands

Judges: Columbia Journalism School Faculty

Alysia Tate, The Chicago Reporter, Chicago Matters

Judges: Columbia Journalism School Faculty

Steve Hymon, Mitchell Landsberg, Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Robert Gauthier, The Los Angeles Times, The Troubles at King/Drew  

Judges: Columbia Journalism School Faculty


The Tobenkin Award is judged by Columbia Journalism School faculty.


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