The American Mosaic Journalism Prize is awarded for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape.
The prize recognizes journalism’s critical ability to foster greater understanding and empathy, and aims to recognize and support freelance journalists with an unrestricted cash award of $100,000 per recipient. The prize is intended to call attention to the recipients’ great promise, and to give them the freedom to continue their work.
Photo credit: Krystalyn Dennis
Photo credit: Alan Chin

— Past Recipients —

News

WHAT’S NEW

FEATURES

2 Journalists Win Prizes for Work on Underrepresented People
San Francisco Chronicle February 5, 2021

Interview with Prize Recipient Michelle García
Tiempo on WABC-TV (Segment starts at 13:05) February 14, 2021

Prize Recipient Jaeah Lee’s “The Courts Beat”
Columbia Journalism Review February 2, 2021

2 Journalists Win Prizes for Work on Underrepresented People
The Washington Post February 5, 2021

2 Each Get $100K for Writing on Underrepresented
Journal-isms / Richard Prince February 5, 2021

Archived News
Read news, from previous years, about the American Mosaic Journalism Prize.

– 2021 Judges –

Hannah Allam
National Security Correspondent,
NPR

Talal Ansari
US News Reporter,
The Wall Street Journal

Eliza Borné
Editor,
Oxford American

Antonia Hylton
Correspondent,
NBC News and MSNBC

Cindi Leive
Co-founder,
The Meteor

Wesley Lowery
Correspondent,
CBS News

Mirta Ojito
Senior Director, News Standards
NBC/ Telemundo

Deanna Pan
Features and Enterprise Reporter,
The Boston Globe

Kit Rachlis
Former Senior Editor
The California Sunday Magazine

Keith Woods
Chief Diversity Officer,
NPR

– FAQ –

Why did you create the American Mosaic Journalism Prize?

Exceptional journalism has the power to expose us to new perspectives and bring about new understanding. It can break down isolation and lead to increased empathy among all of us. It can humanize the world. In this way, journalism can be deeply meaningful. We created this award to recognize and encourage journalists spending time on long-form, narrative, or deep reporting that fosters greater understanding of often underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups.

The prize is intended to call attention to these journalists and give them the freedom to continue their work.

What do the recipients receive?

The recipients of this prize each receive $100,000, unrestricted.

Who is eligible for this prize?

A freelance journalist of either print, digital, audio, or television, for a selection of work published in, or aired on, mass media outlets over the past year prior to nomination.

In today’s journalism, freelancers are both vulnerable and valuable. With trimming of newsroom staffs, many journalists are working without the support of an institution. They are a one-person team of journalist, business manager, administrative assistant, accountant, and lawyer. They often work with limited financial resources. And yet, some of the most important works of journalism come from these individuals who have the freedom to commit long periods of time to their work.

What are the selection criteria?

The American Mosaic Journalism Prize is awarded to two freelance journalists for a selection of work published in or aired on mass media over a defined period (August 2019-July 31, 2020 for the current award) prior to their nomination. Nominations are reviewed for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape, thereby breaking down isolation and stereotypes, and bringing new perspectives and understanding to audiences. Works of print, digital, audio, and television journalism are considered. Books, films, and individual works not affiliated with a mass media outlet are not. Major consideration also includes the potential for future work.

Do the candidates know they have been nominated? When are decisions made?

We ask that nominators keep their nominations completely confidential. Only when the two recipients are informed of their selection do they learn that they had been considered for this prize. The selection is announced publicly in early February.

What is the Heising-Simons Foundation, and what does it support?

You can learn more about the Foundation’s history here, and about the five grantmaking programs here.

The prize is part of the Foundation’s small number of journalism grants— out of the Community and Opportunity program—to strengthen and sustain journalism as an essential arm of U.S. democracy.

How many recipients are there?

Two per year.

Are there any strings attached to winning this prize?

No. We feel it is critical that this cash prize be unrestricted. The recipients can spend the money in any way they wish. We believe this helps protect their freedom as journalists. They have no obligation to the Foundation.

What is the selection process?

Guidelines for the prize are shared with more than 150 leaders in journalism— including a wide-ranging group of editors of publications and outlets from print, television, audio, and digital journalism, practitioners, representatives from journalism groups and associations, and academic institutions—from across the country. All nominators remain confidential so as to not attract attention and solicitation. Each nominator is asked to submit a confidential nomination, not alerting the candidate. After receiving nominations, a group of established journalists reads and screens all eligible entries. Based on the readers’ scoring, staff then recommend semi-finalist selections and share with the year’s prize judges. The judges are not aware of a candidate’s nominator. The 10 judges review in advance and then deliberate during a meeting, agreeing on two recipients.

Can I apply for the prize?

The Foundation does not accept submissions for the prize. The Foundation relies on the journalism leaders serving as confidential nominators to surface the talent for this prize.

Why “underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups”?

Exceptional journalism has the ability to bring about greater understanding and empathy, and plays a critical role in helping us understand and respect other people. The term is intentionally broad to allow for a wide-range of subjects.

Are the 10 judges the same each year?

No. Each year, the judging committee includes a mix of new judges and returning judges from the prior year.

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