First Prize

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Racism at the Virginia Military Institute

Ian Shapira
The Washington Post


About the Entry

Ian Shapira’s extraordinary reporting on racism at the Virginia Military Institute — the country’s oldest state-supported military college — has had immediate and immense results. He persuaded reluctant Black cadets and recent alumni to describe what they’ve endured at VMI, the last public college in Virginia to integrate. The stories spurred an independent investigation into “the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism at the Virginia Military Institute.” 

Comments from the Judges

“The jaw-dropping anecdotes, one after another, slice open the underbelly of a prestigious institution. It’s often a cliche to say journalists should be elevating underrepresented voices, but this story shows why the phrase is repeated often.”

“Compelling, heartbreaking, and timely investigation of racism at one of America’s iconic military institutions. With great sensitivity and resourcefulness, Ian Shapira brought to light voices who may well have been left silent. A model of public service, the story sparked almost immediate change.” 


Equity in Boston’s High School Admissions
Meghan E. Irons, Bianca Vazquez Toness, Malcolm Gay and Sarah Carr
The Boston Globe

Comment from the judges: “A strong and timely exploration of the inequities of exam schools, as well as a legendary institution, Boston Latin. The Boston Magazine feature was a lovely, sensitive, carefully drawn narrative of the journeys of three students.”

Tracking the Coronavirus at Colleges
The Staff of The New York Times
The New York Times

Comment from the judges:  “The Times doing what the Times does best: Doing the maximalist version of a story that not only sets the gold standard for all reporting on the topic, but serves as the data and narrative backbone for that entire area of coverage.”