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.”

Purpose and Mission

The Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues honors individual journalists, documentary filmmakers and others dedicated to communicating with broad publics for their use of the sociological imagination in their coverage of social issues of vital importance. This award is intended to recognize the caliber of the professionals who advance sociological understanding of the world. 

Selection Criteria and Eligibility 

A nominee must have made noteworthy contributions to social investigation and analysis through any medium of public communication. They cannot be a professional sociologist and membership in ASA is therefore not required. Nominations should include an account of the nominee's major contributions supported with concrete examples such as video or articles.

Nomination Procedures

A new timeline for reviewing nominations and selecting winners will be implemented beginning in 2021. To transition to the new timeline, no nominations will be accepted in 2020.

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
Georgiann Davis 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Pyong Gap Min 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Brian Powell 1/1/2019 12/31/2020 Member
Gregory D. Squires 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Diana B. Elliott 1/1/2019 12/31/2021 Member
Julie B. Wiest 1/1/2019 12/31/2021 Member
Helen B. Marrow 1/1/2020 12/31/2022 Member
Lisa M. Martinez 1/1/2020 12/31/2022 Member
Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve 1/1/2020 12/31/2022 Member


2019 - Eric Deggans

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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