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THE CLARK MOLLENHOFF AWARD FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Ben Posten and John Diedrich IPJ Awards 2013

The 2013 Clark Mollenhoff Award winners (l.-r.) Ben Posten and John Diedrich of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel accept their award. The Journal Sentinel has also been selected as the 2014 award recipient. 

The Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting is sponsored by The Institute on Political Journalism, an educational program sponsored by The Fund for American Studies. The presentation of the award, including a cash prize of $2,500 will take place during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 2014.

The 2014 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting will be awarded to John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for their hard-hitting series “Backfire” which uncovered deep flaws and a profound lack of government oversight in undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stings across the country.

Click Here for a List of Past Winners

Each year, approximately 100 of the nation's brightest collegiate journalists are chosen to spend the summer in Washington, DC at The Institute on Political Journalism. They intern at news organizations throughout the nation's capital while taking courses in economics and ethics at George Mason University and attending site briefings and guest lectures by prominent reporters and editors.

The Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting is named for the late Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter who conducted groundbreaking investigations into the influence of organized crime in American society. His work led to successful crackdowns on labor racketeering and Teamster Union corruption. Clark Mollenhoff was a professor of journalism at Washington and Lee University and was the director of the Institute on Political Journalism at the time of his death.

The Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting is given annually to the best newspaper, magazine, or online story that conforms both to the definition of investigative reporting as originally defined by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and to the professional standards articulated by Clark Mollenhoff in his critiques of journalism craft. Recipients may be a reporter or team of reporters showing initiative similar to Mollenhoff's.

NOTE: The 2014 winners have already been selected. For information about the 2015 awards, please contact IPJ Director Joe Starrs at 202-986-0384 or jstarrs@TFAS.org.


 Investigative Elements:

It is the reporting, through one's own work product and initiative, matters of importance, which some persons or organizations wish to keep secret. The three basic elements are that the investigation be the work of the reporter, not the report of an investigation made by someone else; that the subject of the story involves something of reasonable importance to the reader or viewer and that others are attempting to hide these matters from the public.

  1. Reporter's own work product: This means that the reporter must have initiated and done this investigation. It is permissible to use excerpts from police records, official investigations, etc. but only incidentally and not as primary proof of the investigative conclusion.
  2. A Matter of Reasonable Importance: It should be a matter that substantially serves the public interest.
  3. A Matter that Others are Attempting to Hide: This is the element that more than any other differentiates investigative reporting from depth and explanatory reporting. Corrupt politicians, for example, don't want people to know they are stealing, so they perform their corrupt acts in ways designed to avoid public discovery. The same applies to polluters, mobsters, price-gougers etc.

The following craft imperatives should be considered toward judging:

  1. The story must effectively prove its investigative premise.
  2. Anonymous sources rarely belong in investigative stories and their use should be strongly discouraged.
  3. The story should be well written and clearly sourced.
  4. Good packaging and graphics are desirable.
  5. Strong results, while not always attainable, sometimes help validate investigative stories. 

Guidelines for Award Entries:

  1. Provide a brief letter outlining the nature of the reporting, obstacles overcome, and results obtained, along with your contact information.
  2. In a separate section, you may submit any additional stories or back up material considered pertinent.
  3. There is no entry form; there is no entry fee.
  4. More than one series for a reporter, team or newspaper is permitted, but each should be submitted as a separate entry.
  5. Stories must have been published between January 1, 2013 and March 30, 2014.
  6. Entry deadline for the materials to be postmarked is Monday, March 31, 2014. 
  7. Entries must be from a U.S. publication. International entries are NOT permitted.
  8. Any format is acceptable-readability is what matters.
  9. Must submit five copies of your entry.

Submit application materials to:

Mr. Joseph Starrs
The Institute on Political Journalism
1621 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

 

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