Clear It with Sidney | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

The best of the week’s news by Lindsay Beyerstein

Clear It with Sidney

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Hillman Prizes for Journalism

Today the Sidney Hillman Foundation announced the winners of the 71st annual Hillman Prizes, recognizing outstanding investigative journalism that exposes abusive palm oil plantations, police brutality, the long-term detention of immigrant children, and our government’s negligent pandemic response. The winners also provided lucid analysis of politics and culture and a fresh accounting of the economic and political history of this country.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation will host an online virtual celebration on Tuesday May 4 at 7pm ET/4pm PT [#Hillman21]. The award ceremony will feature presentations and conversations with our winners and judges and is free and open to the public.

The winners of the 2021 Hillman Prizes are:


Zachary D. Carter: The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, Random House


Rick Perlstein Reaganland: America’s Right Turn (1976-1980), Simon & Schuster


Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Fruits of Labor, Associated Press: For exposing the rampant exploitation of workers on the vast palm oil plantations of Southeast Asia


David Dayen “Unsanitized,” The American Prospect: For his daily report of news and analysis about the coronavirus pandemic


Aura Bogado and Melissa Lewis, The Disappeared, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting:For their deep dive into the story of a Honduran girl held in the U.S immigration system for six years


Tony Plohetski, Lights. Camera, Violence, KVUE-TV and the Austin American-Statesman: For exposing lethal police brutality and the intrusion of reality TV cameras into policing in Williamson County, Texas

Opinion & Analysis

Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times: For his lucid analysis of politics and culture through a deep understanding of American history

The Officers of the Sidney Hillman Foundation also elected to honor Robert Parris Moses, a civil rights leader and founder of The Algebra Project, who has made it his life’s work to teach math literacy to students of color.

This year’s prizes were judged by bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, Reuters’ Alix Freedman, the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg, the American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson and The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Reporting by this year’s prize winners has had significant positive impact, including: the cancellation of the exploitative reality show “LIVE PD” and the indictment of a Texas sheriff and two deputies, the reconnection of a family separated by the U.S government for six years, the naming and shaming of companies that sell “sustainable” palm oil products made by exploited workers, and the contextualization of economic and political history from WWI to Reaganomics and the 2020 election. 

“We have been living with this pandemic now for more than a year and the losses have been staggering,” said Hillman judge Katrina vanden Heuvel, “But the pandemic has not stopped journalists who despite so many difficulties and dangers, persisted in bringing us the news and information we so badly needed and held those in positions of power to account. This year’s Hillman Prize winners remind us that public-interest journalism can still change lives and spur desperately needed reforms.”

Since 1950, the Hillman Prizes for Journalism have honored the legacy of Sidney Hillman, an immigrant who dedicated his life to a “better America.” Hillman believed that a free press was essential to a fair and equal society. The Sidney Hillman Foundation has sought to carry on his legacy by honoring journalists who illuminate the great issues of our times—from the search for a basis for lasting peace, to the need for better housing, medical care, and employment security for all people, the promotion of civil liberties and the battle against discrimination based on race, nationality, or religion.

Allison Dikanovic wins the The Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Social Justice Reporting

The Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Social Justice Reporting goes to Allison Dikanovic. Each year, this award goes to an outstanding recent graduate of the Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY

Allison graduated in December 2020 from what was then called the Social Journalism program (now Engagement Journalism).

While in J-school, she developed a rent and eviction-focused newsletter for THE CITY. She is currently helping lead THE CITY’s Civic Newsroom project and newsletter. 

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The Sidney Hillman Foundation announces 2021 Canadian Hillman Prize winners

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2021 Canadian Hillman Prize winner and honourable mention recipients. 

The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today it has awarded the 11th annual Canadian Hillman Prize to Grant Robertson of The Globe and Mail for his unparalleled investigation into how Canada’s world-renowned global pandemic early warning system went silent just months before COVID-19. Robertson’s reporting revealed the federal government shuttered key parts of Canada’s highly effective early alert and response system called the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), leaving the country ill-equipped and unprepared when the virus began spreading across the country.

Unknown to most Canadians, the GPHIN had been successfully run for decades prior to COVID by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It played a key role during both the SARS and H1N1 outbreaks. But in the months leading up to global pandemic, the government had diverted funding from the agency. Those decisions prevented doctors and epidemiologists from tracking and issuing warnings about international health threats.

In addition, Robertson discovered that key government officials refused to listen to advice from scientists about COVID-19, that warnings were not properly passed up the chain of command, and that many senior government officials were unable to properly manage the pandemic as they lacked a sufficient understanding of science and public health.

“This investigation exposed a public policy failure of epic proportions,” said judge Bonnie Brown. “Robertson’s reporting struck at the very core of what went wrong with Canada’s early COVID response. It explained why federal officials misjudged the urgency of the situation, and why the country’s pandemic response lagged behind our global peers.”

The Hillman judges also recognized “The Death Report” produced by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and The Hamilton Spectator’s “House of Horrors” for honourable mentions.

“The Death Report” is a deeply moving investigation into the deaths of three First Nations girls - sisters, all of whom took their own lives, and the First Nations’ child welfare agency that failed to protect them.

“House of Horrors” is the shocking story of a Hamilton retirement home where abhorrent living conditions led to the deaths of a quarter of its residents from COVID. It was run by the Martino family, who had filed for bankruptcy years earlier, leaving taxpayers on the hook for $18 million, and yet were still somehow allowed to operate eight more homes. Finally, their licenses have now been stripped.

“We have been shut down now for exactly one year and the losses have been staggering,” said Alex Dagg, Canadian director of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, “But the pandemic has not stopped journalists who despite so many difficulties and the dangers of the virus, persisted, bringing us all the news and information we so badly needed and holding those in positions of power to account.”

Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, The Sidney Hillman Foundation will host an online virtual Canadian Hillman Prize Ceremony on March 25 at 7pm on our website. Please tune in to hear our judges and winners discuss this year’s outstanding and critically important work. 

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