TFAS announced seven winners of its 22nd annual Robert Novak Journalism Fellowships during a gala evening at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2015. The seven young journalists were awarded a total of $140,000 to undertake yearlong writing projects on topics of American culture, democratic society and free enterprise. More than 250 prominent journalists and guests attended the event to celebrate the best in American journalism.
TFAS also presented two major awards at the dinner: The annual Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award to Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal in recognition of his distinguished career in journalism; and the inaugural Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Reporting to Sharyl Attkisson, an award-winning investigative reporter during many years at CBS News who recently authored the bestseller, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”
During his acceptance remarks, Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, spoke about his career and the important role he sees for journalists following the 2016 presidential election. “It’s going to take a journalistic A-Team,” he said. “It’s going to take people who can explain clearly what is going on in the country, who can convey it to the general public in a way they understand and believe in, and do that with credibility. I think that’s what TFAS has dedicated itself to. That is what Robert Novak was indeed all about.”
Henninger continued by saying that he expects to see Novak Fellows as part of that A-Team. “I don’t have any doubt that 10 years from now, I’m going to be proud of the careers that you’re developing,” he said.
Henninger’s award, the Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award, was first introduced in 1999 and named for the founder of the Novak Journalism Fellowship Program. Phillips continues to serve as honorary chairman of the Novak Fellowship Program.
Attkisson, an Emmy-winning investigative journalist and bestselling author, accepted the inaugural Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Reporting in “the spirit of the journalists everywhere who are trying to do a great job amidst some very daunting obstacles.”
During her remarks, Attkisson spoke about her concerns for the state of journalism, declaring, “the free press as we know it is under assault” and criticizing news organizations for allowing the “powers that be” to set the day’s agenda of the news.
Thanks to publisher Harper Collins, each dinner guest went home with a copy of Attkisson’s bestselling book, “Stonewalled.” Her award, the Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Reporting, is named in honor of the former Reader Digest editor-in-chief whose distinguished journalism career spanned four decades. Tomlinson, who passed away in 2014, served as a judge of the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program, as well as a member of the TFAS Board of Regents and the Board of Visitors for the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ).
The awards dinner and the 2015 Novak Fellowships were made possible through the generosity of supporters, sponsors and dinner committee members, including 2015 Dinner Committee Chairman Jeffrey Carneal and 2015 host sponsor, New Corporation Foundation.
Many of the 2015 Novak Fellowship recipients remarked that they were thankful to TFAS supporters for allowing them to pursue writing projects that would otherwise not be possible.
“I would really love to break free of the daily routine and be that enterprising reporter I have long aspired to become,” said Andrew Staub (Novak 15). “This fellowship will allow me to do that and it’s really a great gift. I really have to thank The Fund for American Studies for its support of good journalism and for supporting young journalists who are still trying to find their way.”
The Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program was launched in 1994 to promote the cause of objective journalism. Robert Novak, a leading American journalist, proposed the program as a way to nurture a new generation of responsible journalists. The program, which was renamed in his honor following his passing in 2009, has awarded 130 fellowships during the past two decades.
The 2015 fellows join a prestigious family of fellowship winners who are climbing the ranks of American journalism as reporters, editors, columnists, news anchors and authors. Novak Fellows include Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard and Fox News, Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner.
The 2015 Robert Novak Journalism Fellows:
Ashton Ellis, 32, is a contributing editor at the Center for Individual Freedom. He will devote his fellowship year to the topic, “The Policy Aspects of Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide: Implications for the elderly and disabled, suicide prevention, conscientious objectors, and healthcare rationing.”
Rachel Lu, 35, is a freelance journalist in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her fellowship topic is, “Prison Reform in America: A study of how effective criminal justice reform can be implemented in a way that remains true to small-government principles.”
Justin Shubow, 37, is a blogger at Forbes and president of the National Civic Art Society. His fellowship topic, “The Architecture of American Democracy,” will explore the crucial connection between public architecture and American civilization.
Andrew Staub, 29, is a reporter at The Pennsylvania Independent, a Watchdog.org public interest journalism site covering state government in Harrisburg. His fellowship project is titled, “A Legacy of Prohibition: The fight to privatize Pennsylvania’s archaic liquor monopoly by introducing a free-market system to benefit state consumers.”
Sarah Westwood, 22, works as an investigative reporter at the Washington Examiner, covering government waste, fraud and abuse in major agencies and among elected officials. Her fellowship, “Robbing Robin Hood: How insider firms make billions off the U.S. Agency for International Development,” will explore the nexus of international goodwill and virtually unlimited funding and the contractors that exploit the system to profit immensely.
$7,500 Alumni Fund Fellowships
Gracy Olmstead, 24, works as an associate editor at The American Conservative. For her fellowship topic, she will study the decline of family farming in America and the vital role played by family farms in the continued economic and cultural wellbeing of America.
Madison Peace, 25, is an advancement and communications associate at Avail NYC, a confidential care network for those with unplanned pregnancies. She previously worked at In Earnest magazine and at National Review. Her fellowship project is titled “Breaking Free: The damaging effects of incarceration on the family and how prison reform can help stop the cycle of intergenerational crime.”