Nieman Reports earns Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism

April 03, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An entry deemed to have unrivaled breadth and depth — with print and online elements and combining analysis and commentary — was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, presented annually by the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.

The submission from Nieman Reports provided a look at the challenges facing the media industry across the world. Judges were unanimous in their selection, citing the comprehensive and important nature of the work.

Nieman Reports — a quarterly print publication and website covering thought leadership in journalism — is published by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

In 2019, it addressed financial challenges and turmoil in the media industry because of changing business models, political attacks and violence, and wavering loyalty among some audiences. That work included “Journalism Under Pressure,” an essay by Julia Keller about the state of journalism, and a cover story by former New York Times labor reporter Steve Greenhouse about how the immense pressures of the industry have sparked a wave of unionization at legacy and digital newsrooms across the United States.

Internationally, Nieman Reports produced stories about how journalists in Kashmir struggled to report amidst crackdowns; how independent newsrooms in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland overcame political challenges; and how protests as part of Hong Kong’s political crisis were also a fight for a free press.

Nieman Reports also showcased exemplary coverage and pointed out best practices in coverage of topics such as domestic violence, the role of implicit bias in journalism and whether strategic silence should ever be practiced in newsrooms when covering mass shootings, misinformation, or extremist speech. In addition, online opinion columns, such as “Why We Banned the Word ‘Ethnic,’” “View from Appalachia: Covering White Supremacy and White Nationalism,” “What Journalists Can Do To Report More Effectively — and Compassionately — on Gun Violence,” and “Covering the Complexities of Abortion,” further bolstered the submission.

Submissions for the Bart Richards Award came from individuals and media organizations across the United States. The award comes with an honorarium and a trophy.

Judges included: Tony Barbieri, professor emeritus of journalism at Penn State whose distinguished journalism career includes roles as an international correspondent based in Moscow and Tokyo and 34 years at The Baltimore Sun, the last for as the paper’s managing editor; Vincent Duffy, the news director of award-winning Michigan Radio and the chair of the Radio/Television/Digital News Foundation, the charitable arm of the world’s largest organization representing electronic journalists; and E. R. Shipp, a founding faculty member of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University, where she directs the school's Baltimore Reporting Project.

The award is named after Bart Richards, the longtime editor of the New Castle (Pennsylvania) News who was one of the founders and the second president of the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. In addition, Richards served as president of the United Press International Editors of Pennsylvania, director of the Reporters Institute of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association. Richards served three terms as a representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, representing the city of New Castle.

Last Updated April 06, 2020