Established in 1999 by Seattle broadcasting legend Ancil Payne, the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism recognizes the tough choices journalists make behind the scenes to meet the rigorous ethical standards of the journalism profession while bringing the truth to the public, despite personal, financial, legal, or political pressures.
These decisions make a difference in the community but are often invisible to readers, viewers, and listeners. The $10,000 annual prize rewards media organizations and journalists who report with integrity. In creating this award, Ancil Payne sought to honor journalists who act with integrity, restore public trust in the media, and inspire good work.
Virtual Award Ceremony and Talk
Meet the winners and finalists of the 2020 and 2021 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.
April 29, 4:30–6 p.m. PST
Check back on this page on April 29 to watch the livestream of the ceremony. Please note: If you watch the livestream instead of registering for the event, you will not be able to submit questions for the audience Q&A.
Virtual Ceremony Program
Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor
INTRODUCTION TO 2020 WINNERS OF ANCIL PAYNE AWARD FOR ETHICS IN JOURNALISM
Journalism Professor and Director of Ancil Payne Award
CONVERSATION WITH THE 2020 PAYNE AWARD WINNERS
Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky
CONVERSATIONS WITH THE 2021 PAYNE AWARD FINALISTS
Amy Brittain, Reena Flores, and Bishop Sand
The Washington Post
Ashton Pittman and Donna Ladd
Mississippi Free Press
Margie Mason and Robin McDowell
The Associated Press
CONVERSATION WITH THE 2021 PAYNE AWARD WINNERS
Michelle Theriault Boots, Kyle Hopkins, Agnes Chang, Nadia Sussman, Adriana Gallardo, Loren Holmes, Marc Lester, and Anne Raup
Anchorage Daily News in partnership with ProPublica Local Reporting Network
2020 Ancil Payne Award Winners
In June 2019, reporters Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky of Injustice Watch published the results of an investigation into racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and violent content that police officers around the country posted on their personal social media accounts. Hundreds of news outlets reported on the project after the small media outlet broke the story, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Emily Hoerner covers the courts, judges, policing, prisons, and everything criminal justice at Injustice Watch. She spent much of 2019 reporting on law enforcement activity on Facebook, including breaking the 2020 Payne Award–winning story about a national database that compiled thousands of troubling public Facebook posts by police in eight locales. She graduated with a master’s degree in 2015 from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, where she reported on a number of topics, including education, addiction, politics, inequality, and injustice. Her work has been published in Buzzfeed News, the Chicago Sun-Times, US News, and the Texas Tribune. She enjoys using data as a way to find new, interesting stories that aren’t being told.
Rick Tulsky co-founded Injustice Watch in 2015, after more than 30 years as a reporter and editor, including staff positions at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Jose Mercury News. Tulsky has focused his career on investigative reporting exposing systemic problems that affected vulnerable populations. His past awards include a Pulitzer Prize and two Robert F. Kennedy Foundation awards. He is a longtime supporter of Investigative Reporters and Editors, including service as its board president.
2021 Ancil Payne Award Winners
Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault and child sex abuse in the United States. Yet for generations it has been an unspoken epidemic. Beginning in 2018, the Anchorage Daily News staff shattered that silence with a new kind of collaborative journalism, partnering 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. The series is a centerpiece of an ongoing investigation into sexual violence in Alaska.
Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News
Michelle Theriault Boots has been a reporter with the Anchorage Daily News since 2012. Previously, she worked at newspapers in California, Washington, and Oregon. In 2009, she earned a master's degree in literary nonfiction from the UO School of Journalism and Communication.
Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News
Kyle Hopkins is a reporter and special projects editor for the Anchorage Daily News. In 2019 he joined the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, and in 2021 he became a member of ProPublica's Distinguished Fellows Program.
Agnes Chang, ProPublica
Agnes Chang is a creative story technologist at ProPublica working on combining visual storytelling and data. Previously, she worked on the New York Times Research & Development, Cooking, and Video teams. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design and at Columbia University.
Nadia Sussman, ProPublica
Nadia Sussman is a video journalist at ProPublica who creates short- and longform investigative documentaries and visual stories. Prior to joining ProPublica, she was based for five years in Brazil, where she shot and edited videos for outlets including the New York Times, BBC, and the Wall Street Journal.
Adriana Gallardo, ProPublica
Adriana Gallardo is an engagement reporter at ProPublica working on community-sourced investigations. Prior to ProPublica, she worked in public media and education. Gallardo is an adjunct professor at The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News
Loren Holmes is a visual journalist for the Anchorage Daily News, where he has worked since 2012. Born and raised in Anchorage, Holmes studied philosophy and environment and technology studies at Carleton College (Minnesota) and photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication in Athens. In 2016, his work was recognized with an honorable mention in the Photojournalist of the Year (Small Markets) category of the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism competition, and he was a member of the team that was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. He lives in Anchorage with his wife Bonnie and son Charlie.
Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News
Marc Lester has been a staff photojournalist with the Anchorage Daily News since 1999. In addition to still photography, Marc also produces videos and writes feature stories. He lives in Anchorage with his wife and two sons.
Anne Raup, Anchorage Daily News
Anne Raup is a veteran photojournalist in Anchorage. She has worked at the Anchorage Daily News as a staff photographer and photo editor since 1994. Previously, she worked at the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah, at the Albuquerque Tribune, and at the St. Louis Post Dispatch. She earned her masters in journalism at the University of Missouri. Recent ADN projects include the "Lawless" series, for which the Anchorage Daily News was awarded the Pulitzer for Public Service and the "Unheard" series which has tried to give voice back to victims of sexual assault. She lives, bikes, hikes and skis in Anchorage with her furniture-building husband, Mark Wedekind.
2021 Ancil Payne Award Finalists
The Washington Post finalist is the first podcast recognized by the Payne Award Selection Committee. The seven-part podcast “Canary: The Washington Post Investigates” explores the decisions of two women to share their accounts of sexual assault and the consequences of those choices. “Canary” reveals systemic problems within the criminal justice system that illustrate how difficult it is for survivors to feel any sense of justice.
Amy Brittain joined the Washington Post as an investigative reporter in 2013. She has specialized in issues related to criminal justice and sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. In 2016, she was part of a team of Post reporters to win the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for a groundbreaking database effort to track fatal police shootings across the country. She has also been awarded a George Polk Award for reporting on steroid abuse by law enforcement, a Mirror Award for revealing the widespread sexual misconduct by TV host Charlie Rose, and a James Beard Award for reporting on a D.C. chef’s pattern of sexual abuse. She has twice been named a finalist for the Livingston Awards, which honor the top young journalists in the United States.
Reena Flores is the senior producer for the Washington Post's flagship news podcast, "Post Reports.” She helped produce and launch “Canary: The Washington Post Investigates” while working as a producer covering politics on the Post’s daily news show. Before joining the Post two years ago, Flores worked on multimedia desks at Politico, where she produced video explainers, mini-documentaries, and podcasts. She was also a digital political reporter and video producer for CBS News's bureau in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Sand is an audio producer and reporter for the Washington Post. He's worked on audio projects such as “Canary: The Washington Post Investigates” and “Moonrise.” Both projects were named to Apple’s best podcasts of 2020 and 2019, respectively. He’s currently nominated for a 2020 Ambi Award for best sound design and production. Bishop has produced audio pieces about science, art, philosophy, education, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He has experience in various fields including medicine, biochemistry, neuroscience, visual art, music and education.
Mississippi Free Press reporters Pittman and Ladd are finalists for “‘The Fabric is Torn in Oxford’: UM Officials Decried Racism Publicly, Coddled it Privately.” Their investigation revealed how powerful, wealthy donors used their influence on University of Mississippi officials to discourage diversity efforts in favor of preserving the “Ole Miss” of the past. The initial three-part report, based on thousands of documents obtained from whistleblowers, kicked off what sources called “a witch hunt” as university officials used Title IX investigative powers and campus police to attempt to identify the whistleblowers, targeting numerous school employees in the process. The series raises concerns not only about the university’s commitment to addressing systemic racism and donor relations, but to preserving academic freedom.
Ashton Pittman, a Mississippi native, is the senior reporter for the Mississippi Free Press and previously reported for the Jackson Free Press. His work has also appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, and NBC News Think. He has made appearances on several TV and radio programs on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC World Radio for his political reporting. Ashton is an alumnus of the University of Southern Mississippi, where he studied journalism, photojournalism, and political science. A South Mississippi native, he lives there with his husband William and their two pit bulls, Dorothy and Dru.
Donna Ladd, a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, is the founding editor of the year-old statewide nonprofit digital news outlet Mississippi Free Press and the 19-year-old Jackson Free Press newspaper. With a focus on racial, social, and criminal justice, she also freelances for the Guardian, NBC News Think, and other publications when she has time. This year, she is an alumni award winner from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Her journalism helped put a Klan murderer in prison and a Jackson mayor on trial—twice. She has won dozens of awards for her work.
Mason and McDowell won the 2016 Payne Award for their “Seafood from Slaves” series. They spent over two years producing “Fruits of Labor,” a deep-dive investigation uncovering labor abuses in the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together produce 85 percent of the world’s $65 billion supply. The reporters interviewed more than 130 current and former workers, going to great lengths to conceal their identities. They found everything from child labor and human trafficking to slavery and rape in the fields. They then connected the tainted vegetable oil to the supply chains of some of the world’s biggest companies, including Nestle, Unilever, L’Oreal, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, and even Girl Scout cookies.
Margie Mason spent nearly two decades based in Southeast Asia for the Associated Press. Her stories often focus on women, children, poverty, and human rights abuses. In 2016, she and a team of AP journalists won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, along with numerous other awards—including the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism—for a series of stories about slavery in Southeast Asia's fishing industry, resulting in more than 2,000 men being freed. In 2020, she co-wrote an investigation that helped free a Minnesota man jailed for life as a juvenile. She graduated from West Virginia University and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard.
McDowell spent more than two decades in Southeast Asia, where she covered everything from bloody coups and al-Qaida-linked terrorist attacks to plane crashes, tsunamis and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. She was part of the team of reporters that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a series about slavery in the seafood industry that led to the freedom of more than 2,000 men. She and Margie Mason also wrote stories in 2020 that led to the freedom of a Minnesota man sentenced to life as a juvenile in 2002. McDowell now lives in the U.S. and continues to focus on the world’s most vulnerable people, including minorities and others who are persecuted because of their race, religion, gender or social status.