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Medill now accepting nominations for John Bartlow Martin Award

Annual award honors outstanding public interest magazine journalism

Black and white photo of John Bartlow Martin wearing a suite and bowtie.

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is now accepting entries for the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism.

Submissions must be received by Jan. 31, 2018. A cash prize of $4,000 will be awarded for the entry deemed most outstanding by the panel of judges. The winning author or team will be honored at a ceremony in Chicago on May 17, 2018. 

This annual award honors outstanding public interest magazine journalism, which Martin was so adept at himself. During his 10 years on the Medill faculty, Martin coached Medill students in the craft of reporting, organizing and writing long-form magazine journalism.

The award “recognizes the writer(s) of a story or series that sheds light on the causes, consequences or remedies of a problem in American society.” Established in 1988, the award is designed to encourage the kind of incisive, in-depth writing about societal ills that Martin pioneered in major magazines such as Harper’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Collier's and The Atlantic.

In addition to his journalism work, Martin was a political speechwriter who wrote for the presidential campaigns of Robert F. Kennedy, Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern and Adlai Stevenson, about whom he wrote a two-volume biography. He also worked on the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, who appointed him as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 1962. Martin held the post until 1964.

At Medill, Martin is remembered as both a preeminent journalist and a skillful teacher.

“This award recognizes the best magazine journalism in the tradition of Mr. Martin, who was an excellent journalist for years and an influential professor at Medill,” said Dean Brad Hamm.

Winning entries analyze and critique the policies, relationships and events behind societal problems and solutions. Originality, excellence of writing and the consequences of the article(s) also inform the decision of the judging panel. Entries must have been published in a magazine during the 2017 calendar year.

Shane Bauer of Mother Jones received the 2017 JBM award. His piece, “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard,” exposed dangerous conditions inside privately run federal prisons.

To report the story, Bauer got a job at a federal prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Winnfield, Louisiana. The piece revealed poor security, poor training for guards and dangerous conditions for inmates and guards alike. Bauer paired his onsite reporting with deep dives into Department of Justice data, lawsuits and interviews with former CCA employees and inmates

More information about the award and entry form