Exceptional journalism has the power to bring about new understanding. It can break down isolation. 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.

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

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 between August 2019 and July 2021.

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.

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 (May 2021-May 2022 for the 2023 prize) 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 visual 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, visual, 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.

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.

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

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