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2020 Toner Prize

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"In a lot of ways the last couple of years have been a real testament to the importance and the power of political journalism. It's my hope that when we eventually emerge from the other side of this, the institution of journalism will be strengthened rather than weakened."

Jason Zengerle, The New York Times Magazine and GQ
Recipient of the 2019 Toner Prize

"In the age of fake news and distrust, journalists have to stay calm, keep our heads down, and do our job."

Stephanie McCrummen and Thomas LeGro, The Washington Post
Recipient of the 2018 Toner Prize

"Political reporting that is clear-eyed and insightful, putting facts and understanding above all, is more important than ever. Robin Toner exemplified these ideals, and this prize has recognized a new generation of reporters striving to follow her example."

Molly Ball, TIME magazine
Recipient of the 2013 Toner Prize

Entries for the expanded Toner Prizes for Excellence in National or Local Political Reporting for 2019 coverage are now being accepted by the Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications of Syracuse University.

Starting with this 2020 contest, we will award two Toner Prizes, one for national political reporting and one for local political reporting. Each Toner Prize carries a $5,000 honorarium. When you submit your 2019 coverage, you will need to designate on the entry form below the category – national or local – you are entering.

In addition, with the 2020 elections already underway, we are refining our criteria to emphasize the frequent, regular reporting on campaigns, candidates and elections that was Robin Toner’s special passion. The Prizes will not be limited to near-daily campaign coverage. But judges will give extra weight to it.

The Toner Prizes go to the best U.S. national or local political reporting on any platform – print, broadcast or online. Entries must be fact-based reporting, not commentary.  Single articles, series or a body of work are eligible. Each entry is limited to five stories. A news organization may enter more than one reporter or team. But the same reporter or team cannot be entered more than once. Reporters may enter their own work, up to five stories for the entry. A reporter cannot enter more than once.

The work must have been reported and published, posted or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019. Books are ineligible. If your entry is behind a paywall, please give us a way to make the coverage accessible for free to the judges—or contact contest administrator Charlotte Grimes at cgrimes@syr.edu for help. 

Entries will be judged on how well they reflect the high standards and depth of reporting that marked Robin Toner’s work. In particular, the judges will look for how well the entries:

  • Illuminate the electoral process, with a special focus on coverage of candidates, campaigns and elections; or
  • Reveal the politics of policy and
  • Engage the public in democracy.

The Toner Prizes honor Robin Toner, the late national political correspondent for The New York Times and a summa cum laude graduate of Syracuse University with dual degrees in journalism and political science. In her journalism career, Toner spent nearly 25 years with The New York Times, covering five presidential campaigns, scores of congressional and gubernatorial races and many of the country’s major political and policy issues. Toner died in December 2008.

For more information, contact Charlotte Grimes at cgrimes@syr.edu.


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