Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald journalist who gave voice to Jeffrey Epstein’s long-ignored victims and prompted a legal re-examination of Epstein’s predatory behavior, will receive the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s 2019 Neil and Susan Sheehan award for investigative journalism.
Brown’s work revealed a decade-old secret plea bargain that hid the scope of accusations against Epstein and denied the young women he victimized their day in court. The Herald’s series – “Perversion of Justice” – led to a federal sex trafficking indictment against Epstein and the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta for his past role in the deal.
“This is the kind of journalism that Neil and Susan Sheehan would wholeheartedly embrace,” said Journalism Institute President Barbara Cochran. “Julie Brown’s reporting has given voice to the voiceless, held the powerful accountable, and cracked the seals of government secrecy.”
The Institute will confer the 2019 Sheehan award at its annual Fourth Estate Gala on Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C. The dinner will honor Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Amanda Bennett with the Press Club’s signature Fourth Estate award. The evening also will feature the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award winners: Aasif Sultan, a journalist with the Kashmir Narrator magazine who has spent a year in jail for his reporting, and POLITICO reporter Mackenzie Mays for her dogged pursuit of the truth in the face of harassment while reporting for McClatchy’s Fresno Bee.
The gala dinner is a fundraiser for the Journalism Institute, the Club’s nonprofit affiliate. The institute advocates for press freedom worldwide, equips journalists with skills and standards to inform in ways that inspire civic engagement, and provides scholarships to aspiring journalists.
The annual Neil and Susan Sheehan award for Investigative Reporting recognizes work that best reflects the Sheehans’ extraordinary commitment to the principle that a vibrant democracy depends on an informed citizenry and a free press. The award promotes the practice of investigative journalism exemplifying compassion, courage and integrity.
“Julie Brown’s dogged work and determination to tell the stories of Epstein’s accusers illustrates how a free and unfettered press is the public’s best ally when legal and criminal justice institutions fail them,” said National Press Club President Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak. “As Julie herself has said, ‘This has helped the public see we’re not the enemy of the people.'”
Previously, the Sheehan award went to New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein, which amplified the #MeToo movement.
Neil Sheehan is the author of “A Bright Shining Lie,” which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1989. Susan Sheehan is the author of eight works of nonfiction. In 1983, she received a Pulitzer Prize for “Is There No Place on Earth For Me?”
For information on Fourth Estate sponsorship opportunities contact Julie Moos, Executive Director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute at [email protected].
The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide.