Purpose: To give tangible and highly visible recognition to an individual or group of individuals who have provided distinguished leadership in opening doors of employment opportunity and covering minorities in American journalism.
Eligibility: News executives, managers, journalists or any individual who has made a significant difference in the hiring, promotion and/or news coverage of underrepresented minorities.
Ida B. Wells: A distinguished journalist, fearless reporter and wife of one of America's earliest black publishers, Ida B. Wells (1862 - 1931) also was editor and proprietor of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. She told her male co-founders she would not help launch the newspaper unless she was made "equal to them." In the late 19th century, she won acclaim on two continents for her fearless crusade against lynchings. She championed an integrated society and urged black Americans to claim their rightful share of jobs in the emerging industrial society. Today her Chicago home is a National Historic Landmark.
Sponsors: The award is given jointly by Medill and the National Association of Black Journalists. A jury of Medill faculty and NABJ representatives selects the recipients. The jury considers nominees annually and may present one award per year. However, it is not required that the award be conferred every year.
The Wells Award: The award consists of a bust with a specific notation of the act or actions that are being recognized. Medill faculty co-curate the award.
Presentations: The award is presented at NABJ’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Nominations: Nominations for 2017 are now open and available on the NABJ website. The deadline is May 19, 2017.
2016 Honored posthumously to Sidmel Estes
2015 No award given.
2014 Sheila Solomon, adjunct professor, Columbia College
2013 Richard Prince, columnist at the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
2012 Michael Fields, news director at WABE
2011 Walterene Swanston, Diversity Consultant, former Director of Diversity Management for National Public Radio
2010 No award given.
2009 Bobbie Bowman, Diversity Director, American Society of News Editors
2008 Johnita P. Due, Senior Counsel & Diversity Council Chair, CNN
2007 Steve Campus, President, NBC News
2006 Virgil L. Smith, President and Publisher, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times
2005 Reggie Stuart, Corporate Recruiter, Knight Ridder
2004 Don Browne, Chief Operating Officer, Telemundo
2003 David Yarnold, Senior Vice President & Editor, San Jose Mercury News
2002 Sam Adams, Retiring Curator, Ida B. Wells Award Program
2001 Reid MacCluggage, Editor and Publisher (ret.) The Day, New London, Connecticut
2000 No award given.
1999 Timothy M. Kelly, President and Publisher, Lexington-Herald-Leader, Kentucky
1998 Paula Walker Madison, Vice President and News Director, WNBC, New York
1997 Frank A. Biethen, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer, The Seattle Times
1996 Donald Graham, Publisher, The Washington Post Companies
1995 Shelbey Coffey III, Editor and Executive Vice President, Los Angeles Times
1994 Gerald M. Sass, Senior Vice President, The Freedom Forum
1993 Wanda Lloyd, Senior Editor for Administration, USA TODAY
1992 Jay T. Harris, Vice President/Operations and Assistant to the President, Knight Ridder, Inc.
1991 John C. Quinn, Deputy Chair, The Freedom Forum, Former Chief News Executive, Gannett Co., Inc.
1990 Mervin Aubespin, Associate Editor, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.
1989 Albert Fitzpatrick, Assistant Vice President, Knight Ridder, Inc.
1988 David Lawrence, Jr., Publisher and Chair, Detroit Free Press
1987 Loren Ghiglione, Editor and Publisher, The News, Southbridge, Mass.
1986 James K. Batten, President, Knight Ridder, Inc.
1985 Barry Bingham, Jr., Editor and Publisher, The Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times in Kentucky
1984 Daniel B. Burke, President and Chief Operating Officer, Capital Cities Broadcasting
1983 Allen H. Neuharth, Chair and President, Gannett Co., Inc.