American Sociological Association

Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award


Proposed by ASA President Michael Burawoy, the award aimed to honor journalists for “outstanding reporting of sociological findings and otherwise encouraging a better understanding of sociology” (2003 May/June Footnotes, pg 26). The Committee on Awards reviewed Burawoy’s proposal at the 2003 Annual Meeting and suggested simply broadening the Public Understanding of Sociology award criteria to include members of the media, but Barbara Risman argued that the proposed award “was intended to encourage journalists to take sociological research seriously and to use it in their reporting” (ASA Council Minutes Meeting 2003, pgs 8-9). Council added “sociological research” to the proposed award’s description and unanimously approved the award’s establishment on August 19, 2003 as the “Distinguished Coverage of Social Issues in the Media” award and referred it to the Committee on Awards to develop criteria and nomination and selection processes. In the March 2005 issue of Footnotes, the award appeared in the call for award nominations as the “Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award.”

About the Award

The Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues honors individuals for their promotion of sociological findings and a broader vision of sociology. The ASA would like to recognize the contributions of those who have been especially effective in disseminating sociological perspectives and research. The ASA is cognizant of the fact that there are many professionals (e.g., journalists, filmmakers) whose job it is to translate and interpret a wide range of information, including sociological perspectives and research, for the general public. This award is intended to promote a broader vision of sociology, and to gain public support for the sociological discipline.

Selection Criteria and Eligibility 

A nominee must have made noteworthy contributions through any medium of public communication to increase the understanding of sociology. He or she cannot be a professional sociologist and membership in ASA is therefore not required. Nominations should include an account of the nominee's major contributions to furthering the public appreciation of sociology; it is strongly encouraged that examples (e.g., video, printed matter) are included with the nomination.

Nomination Procedures

Nominators must send a full detailed nomination letter and/or email explaining why the individual should win the award based on the above award criteria. The nominator must also include evidence or detailed explanation where to easily find the evidence supporting the claims made in the nomination letter(s). If either of the above requirements are not meant the committee will not be able to accept the nomination. Also, if possible, nominees must have three to four letters of support included with each nominee.

In addition to the nomination materials described above, complete and submit the required nomination form available for download as a Word file here. Then send the complete nomination packet via email to The deadline for nominations for the 2020 award is January 31, 2019.

Selection Committee Members

The selection committee is composed of nine members, each serving a staggered three-year term. Members are appointed from among the Association membership by the Council based on the recommendation of the Committee on Committees.

Name Begin End Position
Syed Ali 1/1/2018 12/31/2018 Member
Georgiann Davis 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Douglas Hartmann 1/1/2017 12/31/2019 Member
Amanda Evelyn Lewis 1/1/2016 12/31/2018 Member
Pyong Gap Min 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Abby Scher 1/1/2017 12/31/2019 Member
Pepper J. Schwartz 1/1/2017 12/31/2019 Member
Gregory D. Squires 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Tukufu Zuberi 1/1/2016 12/31/2018 Member


2018 - Award not given

2017 - Michael Moore

2016 - Ta-Nehisi Coates

2015 - Bill Moyers

2014 - Lee Rainie

2013 - Ira Glass and the Staff of "This American Life"

2012 - Katha Pollitt

2011 - David Brooks

2010 - Sebastião Salgado

2009 - Barbara Ehrenreich

2008 - Michael Apted

2007 - Malcolm Gladwell

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