The Forward won awards for reporting and opinion writing in the Deadline Club’s 2012 contest sponsored by the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Staff writer Paul Berger and Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner both won Deadline Club awards, marking the fourth consecutive year the Forward has won prizes in the prestigious competition.
“Jane Eisner and her team have now won more awards this year than any periodical of similar size in the country,” Forward publisher Samuel Norich said. “The Forward is punching way above our weight, and we’re all really proud of this recognition.”
Paul Berger’s story, “Where’s Washington’s Letter?” won for reporting by newspapers under 100,000 circulation. The first president’s iconic letter to the Jews of Newport, R.I., written in 1790, promises the new government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” The letter had been out of sight until Berger tracked it down to an art storage facility in suburban Washington. Its owner has now agreed to loan it to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where it will be on display.
The Deadline Club judges praised the winning story’s depth and eloquence.
“Paul Berger’s exploration of the mystery behind the disappearance of a touchstone document in American history was a lively story about religious freedom,” they wrote. “It was thoroughly researched and had strong character development.”
Berger beat out his Forward colleagues Nathan Guttman, Maia Efrem and Eileen Reynolds, whose article, “How an Anti-Terror Program Became a Jewish Earmark,” was the other finalist in the category. The article looked at how Jewish institutions won the lion’s share of grants from an $118 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security program established after 9/11, and examined how the money was spent.
Eisner won the prize in opinion writing, for newspapers of all sizes, for three editorials on social justice. She won the same award in 2011, and Forward columnist Jay Michaelson won it in 2010. In April, Eisner won the national Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for editorial writing.
Calling Eisner’s writing “imaginative and persuasive,” the Deadline Club judges honored her ahead of finalists Thomas Frank of Harper’s Magazine and Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica.
“The Forward’s entries consistently defied convention, afflicted the comfortable, and provided readers with thought-provoking insights,” the judges said. “Never shrill nor patronizing, the editorials boldly challenged readers with creative, well-researched pieces.” The SPJ chapter said that it had received nearly 440 entries from 71 media outlets, the most in recent memory. The Deadline Club honors excellence in journalism published, posted or broadcast in the New York City area. Contest proceeds are used to fund scholarships for young journalists.
The awards were announced June 4, at a ceremony held in New York. The honors come on the heels of the Forward winning several Ippies, an award that honors the best in New York community journalism.