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The Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting

Entries for 2021 Toner Prizes now closed

2021 Toner Prize

Entry Form

"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 is a foundation of democracy. Reporting today is so important, especially at a time when so many people call it fake news just because they don’t like it."

Craig Harris, Arizona Republic
Recipient of the 2011 Toner Prize

"A reporter's reporter who deeply cared about the people and the issues she covered."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

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 2020 coverage, you will need to designate on the entry form below the category – national or local – you are entering.

In addition, we have refined 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, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. 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.