The New York Times‘ Bernstein Wins Tobenkin Award for Courageous Reporting

On the strength of her 2009 articles on immigrants in federal custody, New York Times Nina Bernstein has won the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for courage in reporting, the university announced today.

Bernstein, who reports extensively on immigration, joined the Times in 1995. She has also worked for Newsday and written The Lost Children of Wilder: the Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care, which garnered her a PEN literary award. She has won numerous awards, including the George Polk Award for metro reporting in 1995, and a Freedom Forum/American Society of News Editors award for distinguished writing on diversity.

Press release after the jump.

New York (May 4, 2010) — The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism announced today that Nina Bernstein of The New York Times has won the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for courageous reporting, stemming from her 2009 series of articles that documented the mistreatment of immigrants in federal custody.

Bernstein was recognized for her strong story telling abilities and narrative voice in the uncovering of unreported deaths that federal detention center officials tried to hide from the public. Her reporting also won the prestigious Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity.

“This is a richly deserved and long overdue recognition of Ms. Bernstein’s dedication to giving a voice to the voiceless immigrants who often undergo harsh treatment and are the subject of hate crimes from the intolerant members of our society,” said Arlene Morgan, the associate dean of prizes and programs, including the Tobenkin Award.

Morgan also said that Bernstein’s work carries on the tradition of solid and tenacious beat reporting that is incumbent with ferreting out instances of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination.

“Bernstein’s work should be an inspiration to our students who must understand that one of their social obligations as reporters is to write authentically about people who cannot speak out themselves.”

Bernstein, who specializes in the coverage of immigration, has covered a broad range of social and legal issues for The Times, both as a metro reporter and as a national correspondent. Soon after joining paper in 1995, she led an investigation into the death of Elisa Izquierdo, a child who was in the care of the city’s child welfare agency when she was beaten to death. The resulting articles by Bernstein and three colleagues won the 1995 George Polk Award for distinguished metropolitan coverage.

Bernstein previously worked for Newsday for nine years, where she served as a foreign correspondent in Berlin and Bosnia, and has covered national and metropolitan assignments concerning health care, legal affairs, education and child welfare. Before that, she worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Iowa. She is the author of “The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Bernstein won a PEN literary award and received the 2002 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. Her first book of fiction, “Magic by the Book,” a fantasy novel for children 10 and up, was published in 2005 and has since appeared in Spanish, German and Turkish translations.

The award certificate and a $1500 cash prize, will be presented during Journalism Day ceremonies on May 17, a day that honors graduate school students for their outstanding achievements.