PBS FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative honored with Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism

WASHINGTON (Oct. 17, 2022) — PBS FRONTLINE, American public television’s flagship public affairs series since 1983, will receive the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s 2022 Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism.

PBS FRONTLINE has long been recognized with journalism’s highest honors for its exceptional news and documentary programs. The Sheehan award honors FRONTLINE for its Local Journalism Initiative, in particular. The Initiative supports investigative journalism done by local and regional news organizations by providing funding, editorial support, and strategic guidance. This year, the Tampa Bay Times was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a project supported by FRONTLINE. 

“We are pleased to recognize FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative for providing essential support to news outlets struggling to provide essential watchdog journalism. This helps ensure that local reporters have the time and resources to hold the powerful to account,” said Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

Each year, the Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism 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.

“For the past three years, we’ve seen our Local Journalism Initiative bolster incredible local and regional news organizations, and aid in the nationwide dissemination of their accountability reporting,” said FRONTLINE editor-in-chief and executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “We are honored to see this initiative recognized by the National Press Club with the Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for investigative journalism.” 

“Local news is a vital part of our nation’s journalistic ecosystem, and we’re proud to see the impact of our local journalism partners’ reporting reverberate — sparking national conversation and, in some cases, calls for policy change,” Aronson-Rath added. “We share this award with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, whose generous support has made our Local Journalism Initiative possible.” 

The Austin Energy Decker Creek Power Station natural gas plant in far east Austin, TX on June 25, 2021. Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News
The Gopher Resource lead smelter is pictured at the end of the street where a single house sits, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 in Tampa.

The Institute will confer the 2022 Sheehan Award at its annual Fourth Estate Award Gala on Dec. 7. The in-person gala will honor CNN’s chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward with the National Press Club’s signature Fourth Estate Award. 

The celebration also will recognize the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award honorees: Rana Ayyub, an investigative journalist living in India and a Washington Post Global Opinions contributor whose work has been met with an assault on her rights and freedom of expression, and Josh Renaud, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who was threatened by the Missouri governor with criminal charges for uncovering a security flaw in a state database.

The event is a fundraiser for the Journalism Institute, the nonprofit affiliate of the National Press Club. Financial support for the Sheehan Award is provided by a generous endowment from long-time friends of the Sheehans who wish to remain anonymous. Neil Sheehan was the author of “A Bright Shining Lie,” which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1989. Susan Sheehan was the author of eight works of nonfiction. In 1983, she received a Pulitzer Prize for “Is There No Place on Earth For Me?” 

The Sheehan Award was given in 2021 to The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system; in 2020 to Ed Yong, the staff writer at The Atlantic who has shaped our collective understanding of the coronavirus and its impact; in 2019 to 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 and the culture that enabled it; and in 2018 to New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein, which elevated the #MeToo movement.

For information on Fourth Estate sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, please click here.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. 

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