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26th Annual Journalism Prize Recipients

Click here to watch the Journalism Prize Luncheon   ~   Event Photos

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation is honored to announce the recipients of the 26th annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting in 2012. John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate and political director of CBS News, won the Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and Hal Bernton, military affairs reporter for The Seattle Times, won the Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. The $5,000 award recognizes journalists whose high standards for accuracy and substance help foster a better public understanding of the Presidency and National Defense.

The Foundation is also honored to announce two entries that received Honorable Mentions for their Reporting. Josh Gerstein and Carrie Budoff Brown of “POLITICO” will receive an Honorable Mention for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and Andrew Tilghman of “Army Times” will receive an Honorable Mention for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense.

This year, the awards were presented by Steve Ford, son of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, at the National Press Club luncheon on June 3. Following the presentation of the award, David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN who has served as an adviser to four U.S. president, addressed the luncheon gathering. Also, as a part of President Ford’s Centennial celebration, Michigan’s 6th District Congressman Fred Upton, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, gave remarks on the President’s 100th Birthday.

When announcing their decision to award John Dickerson the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on Presidency in 2012, the judges issued the following statement:

“The judging committee has selected John Dickerson of Slate as the winner of the 26th annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

During the 2012 campaign year, John Dickerson produced an exceptionally thoughtful series of articles on the qualities required of a successful president in the postwar era, and the relevance of modern political campaigns in helping voters decide which candidate has those abilities.   Using two decades of experience reporting in and around the White House, Dickerson effectively marshaled presidential anecdotes, campaign stories, and political theory to entertain and inform, and to analyze the often-tenuous link between successful politicking and successful governing.  The series covers all aspects of presidential leadership, from inspiration and personnel management to temperament and political skills, and details how required skill sets have changed over recent decades, in the television and digital eras.  He also provides an evenhanded primer on how those qualities applied to the major 2012 presidential candidates.

Members of the judging committee were highly impressed by Dickerson’s work: Ambitious and sweeping, illuminated by an impressive array of examples and stories, and offering real insight on the American presidency.”

When announcing their decision to award Hal Bernton the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense in 2012, the judges issued the following statement:

“The judges were pleased to select Hal Bernton from The Seattle Times for the 2012 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense.

Mr. Bernton’s insightful series on the U.S. Army’s review of reversed diagnoses of soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) uncovered a multi-faceted, complex issue regarding the many challenges that both medical professionals and soldiers face in dealing with the after-effects of combat.  Although there has been a lot written about PTSD over the past few years, this series uncovered a largely hidden issue  – the manner in which diagnoses were handled that resulted in real-world effects on military personnel, their families, the organizations designed to serve them and society at large.

Mr. Bernton’s writing approach is refreshing in its return to traditional hard-nosed news reporting of complex issues coupled with genuine enterprise journalism that personalizes the human impact of military actions in Afghanistan. The stories were broadly sourced, with verified data, and written with brevity and clarity.

But this was not just another set of “in theatre” stories. Bernton also placed the spotlight on an issue of local importance at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as addressing the national reverberations that such decisions have as America’s veterans transition into military retirement.  His stories about the problem of tracking hidden Improvised Explosive Devices in Afghanistan showed his skill at finding a new, unique, and human angle on a widely reported topic.

As a decade of war winds down with millions of veterans returning home from service in Afghanistan and Iraq, the issue of PTSD and how the Army and other organizations address its roiling implications will be felt for years to come. Mr. Bernton’s distinguished work will help the American people and leaders and politicians better understand how truly complex and difficult PTSD diagnosis really is and the impact it exerts on the lives of soldiers and their families. Mr. Bernton’s contribution to that discussion stood out among the many excellent submissions and, in the opinion of the judges best captured the spirit of the Gerald R. Ford Award.”

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation sponsors the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prizes for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and Distinguished Reporting on National Defense to recognize and encourage thoughtful, insightful, and enterprising work by journalists covering the presidency and national defense. The Foundation is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation whose programs are supported entirely by contributions and bequests in an effort to honor President Ford’s sustained commitment to public service.

For more information about the annual prize or previous winners contact: Joe Calvaruso, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, 303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353, (616) 254-0397, jcalvaruso@38foundation.org or visit our website at www.geraldrfordfoundation.org