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

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.”

Previous winners

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.

Seattle Times reporters win 2018 Selden Ring Award

Mike Baker and Justin Mayo won for their series “Quantity of Care.”

See all previous winners

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