The Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting

Photo of the presentation of the Selden Ring Award at USC Annenberg

Now more than ever, rigorous, ethical and technically skilled journalists are needed to hold those in power accountable and tell stories that matter.

The impact of their work strengthens our democratic society — and demonstrates the value of accountability for governments, non-government organizations and private corporations. 

Since 1989, the Ring Foundation has partnered with the USC Annenberg School of Journalism to present the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. The $50,000 annual award — the largest journalism prize in America — was established with the support of Southern California businessman and philanthropist Selden Ring. It highlights the impact investigative journalists have on local, national and global communities.

Information on Selden Ring

In a photo from the “Fruits of Labor” series by Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, a female worker walks with a pesticide sprayer on her back at a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia.

2021 Selden Ring winner

Beginning in 2018, Associated Press investigative reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell relentlessly examined the working conditions on palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. The result is a searing exposé that reveals shocking abuses against some of the world’s most vulnerable laborers — and then connects that mistreatment directly to a byproduct found in roughly half the items for sale in American supermarkets.

“There’s never been a big spotlight placed on the labor issues of this $65-billion industry — and the problems are endemic,” McDowell said. “Companies have been able to ignore them because they’re hard to investigate and not something most journalists will want to invest the time into.”

For their project, “Fruits of Labor,” Mason and McDowell have earned the 2021 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. Join USC Annenberg on February 23, 2021 to present them with the award. RSVP here

Previous winners

Wendi C. Thomas wins 2020 Selden Ring Award for series on predatory healthcare debt-collection in Memphis

Thomas set up a nonprofit digital newsroom in Memphis called MLK50: Justice Through Journalism which got her started on her series “Profiting from the Poor.”

The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal wins 2019 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting

Emmanuel Martinez and Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal won for their series “Kept Out” about housing discrimination.

See all previous winners

Explore all past Selden Ring winners and their award-winning projects.