Winners of 2019 RFK Book and Journalism Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 3, 2019 – Today, in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has announced the winners of its 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Book & Journalism Awards. The author of the winning book selection and first place winners in 13 categories – including high school and college print and broadcast, international and domestic print and photography, new media, cartoon and more – will all be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 pm at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Historian, author and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Book Award Chair Michael Beschloss will serve as master of ceremonies joining the organization’s President Kerry Kennedy and Journalism Award Chair, playwright and author Margaret Engel in presenting the awards. The full list of winners for each category is included below.

Professional and student journalist winners of the 2019 Journalism Awards chronicled topics including firsthand accounts of asylum seekers as part of a migrant caravan, the horrors of human trafficking, sex abuse, and gang life, the war in Yemen, and much more. Their fearless exploration of controversial topics comes at a time of continued attacks on the press by the current administration in the US and abroad. The 2019 Book Award will be awarded to author Shane Bauer for his book American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment (Penguin Press) exploring the horrors of for-profit prisons, which he witnessed as an undercover corrections officer.

“Shane Bauer’s riveting expose of the criminal legal system exemplifies my fathers’ moral imagination. This year’s journalists serve our country with undaunted bravery at a time when those who speak truth to power are dismissed as dissidents rather than lauded as the patriots they are” said Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President, Kerry Kennedy. “Today, on World Press Freedom Day, it is critical that we celebrate the courage of those who are committed to telling the truth in the face of increased efforts to limit the important role that that courageous journalists and authors play in our daily lives.”

2019 Journalism Award winners were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants in thirteen categories which are reviewed by professionals from across the media landscape. The Book Award was chosen from a field of nearly 100 applicants. Judges for the award included historian and author Ted Widmer; Georgetown University Law Professor and author, Peter Edelman; and Harvard University Law Professor, Annette Gordon Reed.

Please see below for a complete list of this year’s winners & RSVP to our May 23rd Event:



Book Award

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment

Shane Bauer

Penguin Press


High School Print

“Trafficked: Human Trafficking in St. Louis”

Clayton High School

Michael Bernard, Jacob LaGesse, Lila Taylor, Gracie Morris

High School Broadcast


Hillcrest High School, Bay 11 Podcast

Emily Peebles, Ellen Fountain, Hayden Pyle, Kaylinn Clotfelter, Sophia Vaughn

College Journalism

“Hate in America”

Carnegie-Knight News21, Arizona State University

Allie Bice, Abby Bitterman, Penelope, Blackwell, Garet Bleir, Brandon Bounds, Scott Bourque, Brittany Brown, Lillianna Byington, Brendan Campbell, Andrew Capps, Renata Clo, Rosanna Cooney, Catherine Devine, Tessa Diestel, Alexis Egeland, Katie Gagliano, Kianna Gardner, Brooks Hepp, Ashley Hopko, Kaylen Howard, Jimmie Jackson, Storme Jones, Emma Keith, Shelby Knowles, Carley Lanich, Ashley Mackey, Tilly Marlatt, Lenny Martinez, Angel Mendoza, Emmanuel Morgan, Connor Murphy, Justin Parham, Jasmine Putney, Megan Ross, Danny Smitherman, Rebecca Walters, Bryce Spadafora, and Anya Zoledziowski.

Print – Domestic

“Torn Apart: Immigration in the Era of Trump”

The Associated Press

Rodrigo Abd, Michael Biesecker, Rebecca Blackwell, Allen Breed, Garance Burke, Astrid Galvan, Martha Mendoza, Nomaan Merchant, Matt Sedensky, Julie Watson and former AP reporter Jake Pearson

Print – International

“Saudi Arabia’s Tragic War in Yemen”

The New York Times

Declan Walsh, Tyler Hicks, Robert F. Worth, Lynsey Addario, Nicolas Kristoff, Jeffrey E. Stern, David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard, Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Malachy Browne, Kate Kelly, Mark Landler and David Botti.

Photography – Domestic

“The Road to Asylum: Inside the Migrant Caravans”

The Washington Post

Carolyn Van Houten

Photography – International

“The Great March of Return”

Los Angeles Times

Marcus Yam and Alan Hagman


“Buried Truths”


Hank Klibanoff, David Barasoain and John Haas

New Media

“Trapped in Gangland”

ProPublica, in collaboration with New York magazine, Newsday, This American Life, and The New York Times Magazine

Hannah Dreier


“Family Separation in Cartoons”

KQED News and online news outlets

Mark Fiore

Television – Domestic

“Atomic Homefront”


Rebecca Cammisa, James B. Freydberg, Larissa Bills, Unseen Hand, Bill Benenson, Laurie Benenson, Rose Villaseñor, Adilia Aguilar, Mary Recine, Olivia Negrón, Sheila Nevins, Sara Bernstein, Madeleine Gavin, Claudia Raschke, and Robert Miller

Television – International

“UN Sex Abuse Scandal”


Ramita Navai, Sam Collyns, Dan Edge, Andrew Metz, Raney Aronson

Special Recognition – Photography


Getty Images

John Moore

# # #

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has advocated for a more just and peaceful world since 1968. We work alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations. Whether in the United States or abroad, our programs have pursued justice through strategic litigation on key human rights issues, educated millions of children in human rights advocacy and fostered a social good approach to business and investment.

Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards

Founded by the reporters who covered Robert F. Kennedy’s historic 1968 presidential campaign, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards honor outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy’s concerns, including human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action in the United States and around the world. Winning entries in 13 categories provide insights into the causes, conditions, and remedies of human rights violations and injustice, and critical analyses of relevant policies, programs, individual actions, and private endeavors that foster positive change.

Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was founded in 1980 with the proceeds from Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s best-selling biography, Robert Kennedy and His Times. Each year, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights presents an award to the book that, as Schlesinger said, “most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy’s purposes – his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity.”