The Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting
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.
Attend the 2020 Selden Ring Award Presentation
Join USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay and School of Journalism Director Gordon Stables for the presentation of the 2020 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting to Wendi C. Thomas for her series on predatory healthcare debt-collection in Memphis. Visiting Professor of Journalism Mark Schoofs will lead a Q&A discussion with Thomas on the impact of her work.
The event will take place on Monday, March 9 at noon in the Wallis Annenberg Hall Forum.
Information on Selden Ring
Since 1989, the Ring Foundation has partnered with USC Annenberg as the home of the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. The $50,000 annual award, established with the support of Southern California businessman and philanthropist Selden Ring, has highlighted the impact investigative journalists have on local, national and global communities. The award underscores the importance of investigative journalism as a cornerstone of democratic society — and the value of accountability for governments, non-government organizations and private corporations.
“Now more than ever, we need intellectually rigorous, highly ethical, technically skilled journalists who will hold those in power accountable and tell stories that matter. The Ring Foundation is pleased to further its support for the importance of investigative journalism and serving a vital and fundamental commitment to our values in this country and the world at large,” said Cindy Miscikowski, chair of The Ring Foundation.
The Selden Ring Award underscores the critical importance of investigative journalism in today’s society. The $50,000 prize recognizes published investigative reporting that has brought results. Full-time or freelance reporters working for a general circulation, United States newspaper, wire service, magazine or online publication are eligible for the Selden Ring Award. Editors, publishers, educators, journalism organizations and others may make nominations.
The award will be presented at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in the spring semester, and the winner will be expected to visit the school and participate in classes and a forum on investigative journalism. The winner will be asked to discuss the reporting, the challenges and obstacles in the investigation, how they were overcome and the results of the investigation.
All entries become the property of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Winners and finalists grant the school the right to republish the articles and related materials to promote investigative journalism.
According to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the recipient may:
- Receive all of the award proceeds
- Designate one or more charitable institutions appropriately qualified by the Internal Revenue Service to receive the proceeds
- A combination of the above.
- Any funds retained by the individual recipient will be subject to federal income tax.
2020 Selden Ring winner
In 2017, longtime journalist Wendi C. Thomas set up a nonprofit digital newsroom in Memphis called MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, dedicated to reporting on economic justice. She began investigating what kept people in poverty in Memphis, America’s second-poorest large city. This led to a series of stories that exposed the rapacious debt collection practices of the city’s largest health care system. A nonprofit hospital chain affiliated with the United Methodist Church that was suing thousands of patients, including many of its own employees, for unpaid hospital bills.
“Most of the work I do starts with the question, ‘Why is Memphis so poor, and who profits from that poverty?” Thomas said. “In this case, it was Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, a nonprofit, tax-exempt, faith-based hospital — and readers found that horrifying. This hospital was operating this machine that was sucking in poor patients and grinding them to bits.”
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.
Mike Baker and Justin Mayo won for their series “Quantity of Care.”