The Urgent Necessity of Public-Interest Journalism
EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
“In a time when this country’s highest powers have taken it as their business to demean the work of journalists,” the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates recently said, “it is particularly significant when we honor those who have taken up the tools of journalism to challenge corrupt power wherever it may reside.”
In that spirit, the Sidney Hillman Foundation last week announced the winners of the annual Hillman Prizes, which will be awarded on May 7 at a ceremony in New York. Since 1950, the prizes are given in recognition of outstanding journalism in service of the common good. This celebration of a free and independent press is particularly timely at a moment when the White House is waging war on the First Amendment and, according to PEN America, the United States has fallen below the top 30 countries in the world in press freedom.
Each of this year’s honorees (I served as a judge alongside Coates and four other journalists) has done invaluable work to expose uncomfortable truths about these turbulent, often troubling times. The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer’s incisive commentary, especially on issues of race, has made him one of the Trump era’s most indispensable voices. The reporters who led NBC News and MSNBC’s broadcast coverage of Trump’s controversial family separation policy “helped bring national awareness to the Trump Administration’s policy and, ultimately, its reversal.” While Serwer and the NBC team have fostered a greater understanding of the hideous cruelty of this administration, the rest of the winners have brought vital attention to important stories that, amid the focus on Trump, might otherwise have been overlooked.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.