ProPublica’s Miller Wins Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting

It’s long been a gripe that it’s hard, maybe impossible, to turn a profit doing good journalism. Yesterday’s awarding of the Selden Ring investigative prize to a ProPublica writer proves the inverse: Some of today’s best journalism is being done by a non-profit.

The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism announced yesterday that its coveted Selden Ring Award would go to T. Christian Miller, senior reporter at ProPublica, for his reporting on insurance coverage for U.S. private contractors working in military hot spots. Miller’s work was part of a joint effort between ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times.

Founded in 2007, ProPublica focuses on “stories with ‘moral force’” in an effort to counteract what it sees as serious risks to the institution of investigative journalism. Miller’s receipt of the award underscores ongoing concerns that as major publications lose revenue, their editorial and investigative prowess suffers, resulting in an inability to do the kind of deep digging that underlies high-impact stories.

In a statement announcing the award, Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg j-school appeared to echo that sentiment. “It is enormously heartening in this challenging period for journalism to see the courageous and results-oriented investigative reporting being done by news organizations of all sizes and descriptions,” she said.

The annual $35,000 Selden Ring prize goes to “full-time or freelance reporters working for a general circulation, United States newspaper, wire service, magazine or online publication.” Last year’s award went to NewsDay‘s Sandra Peddie and Eden Laikin for their work exposing corruption in Long Island local-government institutions.