Note: This award is for weekly publications and hyperlocal news sites only.
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.
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. 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.
The Awbrey pays tribute to Beverley Awbrey and her late husband, Stu, 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.