Tough Calls, Celebrated
For 23 years, the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism, established by Seattle broadcasting legend Ancil Payne, celebrated the tough decisions in the newsroom and in the field. The annual prize rewarded media organizations and journalists who reported with integrity despite personal, political, or economic pressure.
In 2022, the Payne Award was discontinued so that the family’s generosity could more directly support students. The Payne Family Endowment now provides a student scholarship as well as annual funding for journalists to visit the University of Oregon campus to meet with and educate students.
2021 Winners: Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica's Local Reporting Network
Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault and child sex abuse in the United States. The Anchorage Daily News asked readers to share their stories of sexual violence to help determine why sexual assault and murder cases appeared to be getting worse and where the failure points exist within the criminal justice system. The newspaper partnered with ProPublica's Local Reporting Network to publish “Unheard,” a compilation of 29 stories from women and men who shared their experiences with sexual assault.
In early 2019, Injustice Watch journalists Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky published “In Plain View,” an exposé of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and violent social media content posted by more than 2,000 police officers around the nation. Despite the threat of a lawsuit that could shut down the small media outlet, Injustice Watch prioritized the public’s right to know the truth, earning them the 2020 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.
Garrison Keillor produced and hosted “A Prairie Home Companion” for Minnesota Public Radio for 42 years. Then he was accused of inappropriate behavior at the height of the #MeToo movement. The MPR newsroom earned the 2019 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for its transparent and unbiased coverage of the fall from grace of one of its network’s biggest stars.