The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award | Columbia Journalism School

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.

2023 Paul Tobenkin Award Winner

2023 Paul Tobenkin Award Winner Citation:

Yvette Cabrera, a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, has won the 2023 Paul Tobenkin Award for her investigation of the devastating effects of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Published with ICT, formerly Indian Country Today, Cabrera’s investigation laid bare generations of suffering caused by radioactive waste from hundreds of uranium mines the U.S. government used to make nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Earl Tulley, a Navajo activist who tried to hold the government accountable for the multitude of cancers and deaths in his community caused by the toxic waste, was a key source in Cabrera’s reporting. But when Tulley discovered during the reporting that he had an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer linked to radiation exposure, he became the centerpiece of the narrative. Cabrera powerfully traces Tulley’s story in the Blue Gap-Tachee community against a bleak history of destruction and neglect by the U.S. government on Navajo land. The result is a story of unbreakable courage in the face of systemic cruelty.

Read the full announcement.

How to Enter

The Tobenkin Award is now closed for nominations.

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 2021, though in the case of a series or ongoing story, work that appeared in January 2022 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 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 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.

Past Winners

See past winners:







Susan Ferriss, Joe Yerardi, and Taylor Johnston (Winners)

Justine van der Leun (Finalist)


Center for Public Integrity

Type Investigations

"Hidden Hardship"

"The Evidence Against Her"

Nina Alvarez, Dolores A. Barclay, Elena Cabral
2020 Kyle Hopkins Anchorage Daily News Lawless Elena Cabral, Lisa R. Cohen, Ari Goldman
2019 Ginger Thompson, Michael Grabell and Topher Sanders ProPublica "Zero Tolerance" Daniel Alarcón, Elena Cabral and Lonnie Isabel 
2018 Reporters ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union "Walking While Black" Daniel Alarcón, Elena Cabral, Lonnie Isabel

Jenni Monet (Winner);

Will Evans (Special Citation)

Independent Journalist;


Coverage of the Standing Rock Sioux battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5;

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

Elena Cabral, Jelani Cobb, Keith Gessen


Terrence McCoy (Winner, ’12 MA Politics graduate);

Talia Buford, Ronnie Greene, Kristen Lombardi and Amber Payne (Special Citation)

The Washington Post;

The Center for Public Integrity and NBCBLK

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

"Environmental Justice, Denied"

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.

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