Announcing the 2021 Livingston Award Winners

2021 Livingston Award winners (counter-clockwise from top left) Joshua Sharpe of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hannah Dreier of The Washington Post, and Chao Deng of The Wall Street Journal and 2021 Clurman Award recipient Susan Chira, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project.

Today the Livingston Awards honor stories that represent the best in local, national and international reporting by journalists under age 35. The winning stories highlight an investigation proving the innocence of a man serving two life sentences for murder, the deadly consequences of a teenage asylum-seeker in the flawed U.S. immigration system, and early Covid reporting from Wuhan, China. The $10,000 prizes are for work released in 2020.

The Livingston Awards also honored Susan Chira, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project with the Richard M. Clurman Award for mentoring. The $5,000 prize is given each year to an experienced journalist who has played a pivotal role in guiding and nurturing the careers of young reporters. The prize is named for the late Richard M. Clurman, former chief of correspondents for Time-Life News Service and architect of the Livingston Awards.

Livingston Awards national judges Anna Quindlen, author, Matt Murray of The Wall Street Journal, Raney Aronson-Rath of FRONTLINE and Lydia Polgreen of Gimlet introduced the winners at an online ceremony, hosted former Livingston Award national judge Christiane Amanpour of CNN and PBS.

“We are always moved by the work of our Livingston Award entrants, finalists and winners. But the work published in 2020 is especially important and inspiring. Under incredibly difficult reporting circumstances, these tenacious journalists doggedly pursued work that pushed criminal justice, immigration and global public health systems – toward truth, transparency and greater accountability,” said Livingston Awards Director Lynette Clemetson. “We are proud to honor this year’s winners and we look forward to extending the reach of their work and following their promising careers.” 

Celebrating its 40th year, the awards bolster the work of young reporters, create the next generation of journalism leaders and mentors, and advance civic engagement around powerful storytelling. The sponsors include the University of Michigan, Knight Foundation, the Indian Trail Charitable Foundation, the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation, Christiane Amanpour, the Fred and Judy Wilpon Foundation, and Dr. Gil Omenn and Martha Darling.

The 2021 winners for work released in 2020 are:

Local Reporting

Joshua Sharpe, 33, of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for “The Imperfect Alibi,” an exhaustive re-examination of a 35-year old double murder mystery that debunked the alibi of a long-overlooked suspect and proved the innocence of a man wrongly imprisoned for 20 years.

Only very rarely does one of our stories – one of us – change the course of human events. For more than two decades, a man said that he wasn’t the person who murdered a deacon and his wife, both pillars of the local black community in Spring Bluff, Georgia. Joshua Sharpe asked the right questions, refusing easy answers and pretty much proved that man was telling the truth and was innocent. And that another man was guilty of those crimes and had gotten over for so many years with an alibi so thin that you could read a newspaper through it. – Anna Quindlen

National Reporting

Hannah Dreier, 33, of The Washington Post for “Trust and Consequences,” a portrait of Kevin Euceda, a teenage asylum-seeker fleeing Honduras, who was held in U.S. custody and required to see a therapist only to have notes from those confidential sessions turned over to ICE and used against him in court hearings.

Hannah Dreier’s series does what the best reporting can do. It leaves an indelible impression by making abstract policy and institutional decisions, human and concrete, and shows the effect they can have on real lives. Whatever one’s views on immigration, no one who reads these stories can fail to be moved outraged and informed by them. – Matt Murray

International Reporting

Chao Deng, 32, of The Wall Street Journal for “On the Front Lines in Wuhan,” a remarkable series of reports which, despite the Chinese government’s attempts to silence her, tells the complex and rapidly evolving story on the ground at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the early stages of the crisis.

The gathering of anonymous accounts from government officials, paired so eloquently with family stories of Chinese citizens, dealing with the then mysterious outbreak. Chao Deng’s reporting amplified the voices of the citizens of Wuhan. It was, and is, vital and crucially important journalism. – Raney Aronson-Rath

Mentoring Award

Susan Chira was honored with the Richard M. Clurman Award for her newsroom commitment to counseling, nurturing and inspiring young journalists. Chira is the editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project and former deputy executive editor of The New York Times. In a video tribute introduced by Lydia Polgreen, reporters from The New York Times and The Marshall Project spoke about Chira’s influence on their careers.

Susan inspired me to follow in her footsteps and become a leader, a mentor, a coach and an editor. Looking back now I know that the most important work of my life is not the swashbuckling exploits that I enjoyed as a young foreign correspondent. Susan inspired and championed that work for sure. But more importantly, she inspired me to emulate her leadership and to be a Susan Chira for everyone who wasn’t lucky enough to work with the real Susan Chira. – Lydia Polgreen

In addition to Quindlen, Murray, Aronson-Rath and Polgreen, the Livingston national judging panel includes; Ken Auletta of The New Yorker, Dean Baquet of The New York Times; John Harris, co-founder of Politico, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune; María Elena Salinas, CBS News contributor; Bret Stephens of The New York Times; and Kara Swisher of The New York Times and Vox Media.

More on the winners here.

Watch the virtual ceremony here.

About the Livingston Awards

The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists are the most prestigious honor for professional journalists under the age of 35 and are the largest all-media, general reporting prizes in American journalism. Entries from print, online, visual and audio storytelling are judged against one another, as technology blurs distinctions between traditional platforms. The $10,000 prizes are awarded annually for local, national and international reporting. The Livingston Awards are a program of Wallace House at the University of Michigan, home to the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Wallace House Presents event series.

U.S. Military and Counter-Terrorism in Africa: Is Anybody Watching?


John Ciorciari, Christina Goldbaum and Bronwyn Bruton
John Ciorciari, Christina Goldbaum and Bronwyn Bruton

Wallace House Presents Christina Goldbaum, Bronwyn Bruton and John Ciorciari  

Wednesday, March 13 | 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Annenberg Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Watch video »


Join the Conversation

In 2017, journalist Christina Goldbaum’s on-the-ground investigation in Somalia exposed a U.S. military raid alleged to have resulted in the deaths of 10 Somali civilians. From a peacekeeping and nation–building force to troop build-ups, drone strikes and counter-terrorism operations, the U.S. rules of engagement are changing. Join Goldbaum, the Atlantic Council ‘s Bronwyn Bruton and the Ford School’s John Ciorciari for an examination of the U.S. military’s presence and role in Africa and the implications for civilian lives and global security.


About the Speakers

Christina Goldbaum is a reporter for The New York Times covering immigration. Prior to joining the Times, she was a freelance foreign correspondent in East Africa, where she spent a year in Somalia reporting on U.S. national security issues. Goldbaum received the 2018 Livingston Award for international reporting for her story of the U.S. military’s alleged role in the massacre of Somali civilians.  Goldbaum also broke stories on the build up of a secretive U.S. military post and the details of the first two U.S. combat deaths in Somalia since Black Hawk Down.

Bronwyn Bruton is director of programs and studies and deputy director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. Recognized as an authority on the Horn of Africa,  her articles and editorials about the region appear regularly in Foreign Affairs, The New York TimesForeign Policy magazine and other publications. Bruton has held fellowships at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


About the Moderator

John Ciorciari is an associate professor of public policy and director of the Ford School’s International Policy Center and director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center. His research focuses on international law and politics in the Global South.


This Livingston Lecture event is co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the International Policy Center.


This event is produced with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


2017 Livingston Winners Announced

2017 Livingston Award Winners: Claire Galofaro, Brooke Jarvis, Ben Taub and the late Gwen Ifill


Stories about economic despair in Appalachia, the human toll of border crossings, and President Bashar al-Assad’s authorization of mass murder in Syria won the Livingston Awards today. The $10,000 prizes for journalists under the age of 35 are the largest all-media, general-reporting prizes in the country.

The Livingston Awards also honored the late Gwen Ifill with the Richard M. Clurman Award for on-the-job mentoring. The $5,000 prize named for the late Richard M. Clurman, former chief of correspondents for Time-Life Service and architect of the Livingston Awards.

Livingston judges María Elena Salinas of Univision News, Kara Swisher of Recode and Code Conference and Bret Stephens of The New York Times introduced the winners today at a luncheon in New York City. Former Livingston judge and winner, Michele Norris presented the Richard M. Clurman Award.

“These winners underscore the vital work and absolute necessity of journalism in documenting the human experience,” says Livingston Awards Director Lynette Clemetson. “Through meticulous reporting and exceptional storytelling these reporters crafted richly detailed, affecting narratives that added depth, nuance and new understanding to often oversimplified issues.”

The 2017 winners for work published in 2016 are:

Local Reporting

Claire Galofaro, 34, of The Associated Press, for the series “Surviving Appalachia,” a devastating portrait of a rural landscape on the brink of extinction. Galofaro examines the rise of Donald Trump, captures the despair of hundreds of people betrayed by a crooked lawyer’s disability fraud scheme and documents a day in a small West Virginia city where 28 people overdose in a four-hour period.

“The lesson I learned most vividly from reporting these stories is that a generally-improving American economy means nothing to people who look out their window and see only devastation and decay,” says Galofaro. “There is a consequence of forsaking these blue collar places.”


National Reporting

Brooke Jarvis, 32, of The California Sunday Magazine, for “Unclaimed,” an investigative narrative about an unidentified migrant bed-bound in a San Diego hospital for 16 years and the networks of immigrant families searching for their missing loved ones.

“We talk constantly about immigration and immigration reform without enough understanding of the human lives that are involved,” says Jarvis. “I think the more we can empathize with people, instead of thinking of them a abstractions, the better off we all are.”


International Reporting

Ben Taub, 25, of The New Yorker, for “The Assad Files,” an investigation revealing the workings of an independent agency and their efforts to capture and smuggle government documents that link mass torture and killings in Syria to the highest levels of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“Everyone knew that the Assad regime was committing an astonishing array of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” says Taub. “But for me, what mattered was showing not only that these crimes were taking place but also that they can be traced back to orders that Assad had signed – that his criminal culpability is not in question. If international law is credibly applied in Syria, this is the body of evidence that will be used against Assad in court.”


On-the-Job Mentoring

The late Gwen Ifill was honored with the Richard M. Clurman Award for her commitment to counseling, nurturing and inspiring young journalists. Ifill served as co-anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour and moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” until her death in November 2016. Her family will donate the prize money to the Gwen Ifill Fund for Journalism Excellence established by WETA, her public broadcasting home.

“Gwen provided counsel and guidance to hundreds of journalists in a way that was not available to her as a young journalist,” says Rochelle Riley, columnist for the Detroit Free Press. “She rose to the top of her profession, all with one hand reached behind her back to help others rise.”


Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University of Michigan to support the vital role of a free and independent press, the awards bolster the work of young reporters, create the next generation of journalism leaders and advance civic engagement around powerful storytelling.

The Livingston Lectures with Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia and Nathaniel Lash


Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia, Nathaniel Lash and Tabbye Chavous“Failure Factories: When Education Policies Desert Our Children”

February 1, 2017 | 4 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Annenberg Auditorium, WEill Hall 1120
735 South State Street, Ann Arbor

Event is free. Reception with speakers following the discussion.

 Watch here.

The Livingston Lectures present journalists Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia, and Nathaniel Lash and education policy expert Tabbye Chavous for a panel discussion on “Failure Factories,”  the Tampa Bay Times investigative series about what happened after the Pinellas County School Board voted in 2007 to abandon racial integration in favor of a neighborhood school system, the policy changes prompted by the reports and the current shape of racial segregation in schools across the county.

In 2007 the Pinellas County School Board abandoned integration, promising schools in poor, black neighborhoods more money, staff and resources. None of those were delivered. In 2015 Tampa Bay Times’ reporters Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia and Nathaniel Lash analyzed data from seven years of school disciplinary records and found a precipitous decline in student performance as well as alarming rates of violence in five elementary schools following the 2007 decision. Their investigative series received attention from the U.S. education Secretary and led to several reforms

Lisa Gartner is a writer on the enterprise team at the Tampa Bay Times. In 2016, she and Times reporters Cara Fitzpatrick and Michael LaForgia won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for “Failure Factories.” The series also won the Livingston Award, the Polk Award for Education Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal, among other honors. Gartner joined the Times in 2013. She grew up in Wellington, FL, and attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After graduating in 2010, she joined The Washington Examiner to report on education in the D.C. metro area. At the Times, Gartner covered Pinellas County Schools and higher education.

Michael LaForgia is investigations editor at the Tampa Bay Times. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting – in 2014 for exposing problems in a Hillsborough County homeless program and in 2016 for the “Failure Factories” series, for which he also won a Livingston Award. He joined the Times in 2012.

Nathaniel Lash joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2015 as an intern and became a data reporter. He was a fellow at The Center for Investigative Reporting, an intern at Newsday and a news applications developer at The Wall Street Journal. A Livingston Award winner, Lash graduated from the University of Urbana-Champaign with a degree in news-editorial journalism.

Tabbye M. Chavous is the director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) and a Professor of Education and Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her expertise and research activities include social identity development among black adolescents and young adults; and diversity and multicultural climates in secondary and higher education settings and implications for students’ academic, social, and psychological adjustment.

Moderated by Brian Jacob, Walter H.Annenberg professor Education Policy, professor of economics and co-director of the Education Policy Initiative and Youth Policy Lab.

This is co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Education Policy Initiative and the School of Education.

2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium event


2016 Livingston Winners Announced

2016 Livingston winners
2016 Livingston Winners. Front row: Michael LaForgia, Lisa Gartner, Charles Eisendrath, Adrian Chen. Back row: Nathaniel Lash, Daniel Wagner, Mike Baker


Stories about re-segregation and the neglect of black students, the predatory practices of Warren Buffet’s mobile-home empire, and the spread of pro-Kremlin propaganda on social media won the 2016 Livingston Awards. The $10,000 prizes for journalists under the age of 35 are the largest all-media, general-reporting prizes in the country.

The Livingston Awards also honor an on-the-job mentor with a $5,000 prize named for the late Richard M. Clurman, former chief of correspondents for Time-Life Service (1960-1969) and originator of the Livingston Awards.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University of Michigan to support a new emphasis on digital media efforts, the program continues to see an increase in digital submissions, with 21-percent more than in 2015. Since the funding initiative began two years ago, the number of digital entries increased 125 percent. The overall number of entries increased 53 percent.

Livingston judges Dean Baquet of The New York Times, John Harris of POLITICO, Kara Swisher of Recode and Code Conference, and Ken Auletta of The New Yorker introduced the winners at a luncheon in New York City.

“The judges have a remarkable record in singling out for early recognition journalists who go on to leadership, including Thomas Friedman, Christiane Amanpour and David Remnick,” said Charles R. Eisendrath, founding director of the program at the University of Michigan. “Adding a prize for mentors who provide indispensable guidance at critical moments in a developing career help complete an important circle of celebration.”

The 2016 winners for work published in 2015 are:

Local Reporting

Lisa Gartner, 28, Michael LaForgia, 32 and Nathaniel Lash, 24, of Tampa Bay Times, for “Failure Factories,” an investigation into the high failure rates and violence in five Florida elementary schools.

In 2007, the Pinellas County School Board voted to end racial integration and then failed to deliver on promises of more money, staff and resources to re-segregated schools. Analyzing mountains of data and interviewing more than 100 parents, students, teachers and administrators, the reporters found the five elementary schools had more violent incidents than all of Pinellas County’s other 17 high schools combined.

“We wanted to dig deeper into why our black students were failing at the worst rates in the state,” says Gartner, the Times’ education reporter. “The data led us to what the story was: these five schools and the 2007 vote.”

National Reporting

Mike Baker, 31, of The Seattle Times and Daniel Wagner, 34, of The Center for Public Integrity and BuzzFeed News, for “The Mobile-Home Trap,” an investigation into the predatory practices of Warren Buffet’s mobile-home empire. The series revealed how Clayton Homes, a part of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, and its lending subsidiaries target minority homebuyers and lock them into ruinous high-interest loans.

“Our story showed that Clayton had not reinvented and perfected mobile-home lending, but instead had quietly bought up much of the rest of the industry, creating a near monopoly in many markets,” says Daniel Wagner. “In addition, it showed how reverse redlining, a practice typically associated with lending to urban minorities, is a serious problem in rural areas.”

International Reporting

Adrian Chen, 31, of The New York Times Magazine, for “The Agency,” an investigation into an internet trolling organization located in St. Petersburg, Russia, responsible for spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda and manufacturing false stories about unrest and disaster in the United States.

“The Russian government has been successful at using the internet to discredit political opposition and spread pro-government propaganda,” says Chen. “We think of the internet as enabling revolutions and protests, but it seems equally useful as a technology of government control.”

On-the-Job Mentoring

Charles R. Eisendrath received the Richard M. Clurman Award for his dedication to mentoring young journalists. A former Time correspondent based in Washington D.C., London, Paris and Buenos Aires, Eisendrath came to the University of Michigan as a Journalism Fellow in 1974. He stayed to join the University faculty and later head the master’s program for journalism. In 1980, Richard Clurman asked Eisendrath to design and direct the Livingston Awards. In 1986, Eisendrath became the third director of the Michigan Journalism Fellowships and transformed a financially strapped sabbatical program into the prestigious, globetrotting Knight-Wallace Fellowships and built a $60 million endowment to maintain them in perpetuity. For four decades, he positively influenced the careers and lives of hundreds of journalists. Eisendrath, who is retiring, will donate his prize money to the Livingston Awards endowment.

In addition to Auletta, Baquet, Harris and Swisher, the Livingston judging panel includes Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent and host of “Amanpour;” Ellen Goodman, author and co-founder of The Conversation Project; Clarence Page, syndicated columnist and editorial board member of the Chicago Tribune; and Anna Quindlen, author.