Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Announces 2023 Book and Journalism Awards Winners

NEW YORK, MAY 3, 2023Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights today announced the winners of its 2023 RFK Book and Journalism Awards during a virtual ceremony with remarks by President Kerry Kennedy and featuring special guest presenters Michael Beschloss, David Cullen, Peggy Engel, Peniel Joseph, Rory Kennedy, Nick Kristoff, Arantxa Loizaga, Craig Melvin, Natalie Morales, Amna Nawaz, Soledad O’Brien, Symone Sanders, John Seigenthaler, Nina Totenburg, and Van Jones.

Winners of the 2023 RFK Journalism Awards were selected from over 450 global submissions to 13 categories, including a recently updated Criminal Justice category and pieces presented in a “nontraditional” format. Among the winners:

  • FRONTLINE (PBS), in collaboration with the Associated Press, won this year’s International Television Award and was also named the 2023 Grand Prize Winner for Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes, an investigative documentary mapping the patterns of violence and potential war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

  • The Washington Post won the Radio Award for its podcast Broken Doors, which examines one of the most aggressive and intrusive policing tactics – no-knock raids.

  • Lee Enterprises Midwest, Capitol News Illinois and ProPublica won the Domestic Print Award for their piece Culture of Cruelty, which uncovers a history of abuse, neglect and staff misconduct in a state-run mental health facility in southern Illinois.

  • Prosper High School won the High School Broadcast Award for Book Ban, which explores how one Texas high school became embroiled in the culture wars book debate.

This year’s Book Award winner is “The Third Reconstruction: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century” by historian Peniel Joseph. The book offers a powerful interpretation of recent history, arguing that the racial reckoning of 2020 marked the climax of a Third Reconstruction: a new struggle for citizenship and dignity for Black Americans, just as momentous as the movements that arose after the Civil War and during the civil rights era.

The annual competition, in place since 1969 for journalism categories and 1980 for the Book Award, highlights exemplary work that explores issues of human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action. It is one of the few awards in its field determined by peers.

“Despite frequent attacks on their work – and in some cases, their safety – journalists and authors around the world continue to courageously expose injustice,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “On this World Press Freedom Day, we are honored to celebrate these brave individuals for their unwavering commitment to truth and vital contributions to a more just world.”

The full list of honorees for the 2023 RFK Book and Journalism Awards can be found below. Special thanks to historian and author Michael Beschloss, head of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award committee, and Margaret Engel, director of the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation and chair of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards committee, as well as the more than 90 volunteer judges who participated this year.

High School Print

The Drug Crisis

Nighthawk News Magazine of First Flight High School

Kayla Hallac, Maren Ingram, Maggie McNinch, Taylor Newton, Kira Walters, Joey Krieg, Olivia Sugg, Fiona Finchem

High School Broadcast

Book Ban

Eagle Nation News of Prosper High School

Mithra Cama

College Journalism

Allies Welcome

Columbia University

Shakeeb Asrar, Tavleen Tarrant

Nontraditional Media and the John Seigenthaler Courage in Journalism Award

The Outlaw Ocean Podcast

The Outlaw Ocean Project/CBC Podcasts and LA Times

The Outlaw Ocean Project

Domestic Print

Culture of Cruelty

Lee Enterprises Midwest, Capitol News Illinois, and ProPublica

Beth Hundsdorfer, Molly Parker

International Print

Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes

FRONTLINE (PBS) and The Associated Press

Erika Kinetz, Tom Jennings, Annie Wong, Vasilisa Stepanenko, Michael Biesecker, Beatrice DuPuy, Sarah El-Deeb, Alison Kodjak


Podcast: Broken Doors

The Washington Post

Jenn Abelson, Nicole Dungca, Reena Flores, Sabby Robinson, Linah Mohammad

Domestic Photography

Hollywood’s Finest

Los Angeles Times

Christina House

International Photography

The Siege of Mariupol

Associated Press

Evgeniy Maloletka


Cartoons by Joel W Pett

Lexington Herald-Leader

Joel W Pett

Domestic Television

In A Different Key

PBS stations nationwide, including in all top 50 markets

Caren Zucker, John Donvan, Ray Conley

International Television

Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes

FRONTLINE (PBS) and The Associated Press

Erika Kinetz, Tom Jennings, Annie Wong

Criminal Justice

Motive Season 4

WBEZ, Chicago Public Media

Shannon Heffernan, Rob Wildeboer, Jesse Dukes, Marie Mendoza, Kevin Dawson


Media contacts

Amy Zelvin Reid,

Emma Gillett,

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, RFK Human Rights advocates for key human rights issues, championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.