The Awbrey Award


Stuart Awbrey


The Awbrey Award is one of the most prestigious honors in Garden State journalism. Since its creation in the 1990s, this award has sought to honor both hard-hitting investigative journalism that is public spirited, as well as more “uplifting” efforts such as creating care packages for soldiers overseas, or helping a handicapped youngster get an education.

The Awbrey pays tribute to Stu and Beverley Awbrey, who ran The Cranford Chronicle from 1978 to 1988. The Awbreys believed their 100-year-old weekly was more than a livelihood; they saw it as an opportunity to contribute to the civic life of Cranford.

Stu, who died in 2004 at the age of 66, wrote: “We asked ourselves: Isn’t a newspaper a public trust as well as a private enterprise? Don’t its proprietors have a responsibility to the community to serve as a means of communication and as a forum for opinion? Our answer was `yes’ to both questions.”

In their time, The Chronicle’s circulation and advertising both rose – demonstrating that committed community journalism could be both noble and profitable. Citizens took up a collection to help the paper successfully defend against a libel suit. In an age when so many news outlets are struggling, we hope this award will serve as a reminder of why journalism matters.

Past winners

The Awbrey is all about showcasing work that seeks ways to encourage community dialogue, promote civic leadership and just make communities better.

For example, last year’s winner Charles Kratovil of New Brunswick Today exposed irregularities in the New Brunswick water utility that showed that people could not rely on testing of the quality of its water. Other past winners include: Katherine Milsop of the Community News of Fairlawn, who wrote articles documenting a Saddle Brook family’s efforts to get help for their seriously epileptic son, sparking state and local action on his behalf and the late Bill George of the Perth Amboy Beacon, who helped force the construction of a new elementary school in Perth Amboy by relentlessly focusing news coverage on children who were being educated in temporary trailers.

Because the Awbrey requires detailed documentation, the deadline for this award is always a week after the regular contest deadline. In addition to submitting a body of work, be it traditionally reported stories or a combination of stories, columns and editorials (in any medium), entrants must also provide a letter and other supplementary materials that demonstrate how that coverage helped improve the quality of public life in the community. That could include, for example, documentation about how coverage of an issue helped facilitate public dialogue or encourage citizen involvement.

Any corrections, clarifications or retractions made after initial publishing or broadcast must also be submitted as part of the entry. Also, copies of any written challenges to the report’s accuracy sent to the entrant or the news organization by or on behalf of those mentioned — including but not limited to letters, e-mails or legal papers — must be included with the entry. Any responses by the news organization should also be included.

The letter should be signed by the publisher, editor or other official from the news organization. It should contain title or description of the entry; name, address and phone number of the newspaper; and the name of the person submitting the entry and that person’s title.