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ASCE Excellence in Journalism Award Rules


In 1994, ASCE established the Excellence in Journalism Award to honor newspaper journalists for outstanding articles that enhance public understanding of the role and impact of civil engineering in designing solutions for clean water, transportation, the environment, and other public works projects.  In 2006, the award was expanded to include journalists and producers from English-language, general-interest regional and national newspapers, radio and television stations, magazines, and electronic and Web-based news outlets.

The news media wield tremendous impact on public opinion about civil engineers and civil-engineering-related issues.  For example, news coverage can influence vital infrastructure legislation, licensing laws and building codes.  Coverage also can affect talented young people’s decisions to pursue careers in civil engineering.

Through this annual national award, ASCE hopes to encourage continued coverage of civil engineering and related issues as a means of engaging the public in civil engineering initiatives impacting their community.   

I. The award is nominated by the Executive Director for approval of the Executive Committee.  The award is presented at ASCE’s Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Awards Gala.  

II. The Executive Director recommends to the Executive Committee of the ASCE Board of Direction for final approval a recipient who is judged superior based on how well they a) fairly cover all sides of the civil engineering project or issue; b) accurately describe the civil engineering project or issue; c) effectively explain how the project or outcome of the issue benefits the community or region; d) clearly show the civil engineer’s role; e) include the most knowledgeable civil engineering experts; and f) advance public knowledge and understanding of the civil engineering profession and its issues. 

III. The award includes a trophy and cash honorarium which shall be sufficient to reimburse travel expenses to attend the OPAL Awards Gala in order to receive the award in person.  The award is self-supporting.  Allowable expenses are funded from an endowment created by contributions.   

IV. The award encourages participation by ASCE Sections and Branches in the form of nomination submission and the sponsorship of local awards programs. Individual members can also submit nominations, and journalists, editors and producers may nominate themselves or their colleagues. 

V. Nominations should be submitted to the ASCE Media Relations department by September 30.  A nomination form is required.  For more information, contact Lynn Wallace at 703-295-6406.

VI. The award honors stories from general-interest, English-language, non-trade related regional and national newspapers, magazines, electronic/Web-based news outlets, and radio and television stations. Paid story placements are not eligible for consideration. 

VII. The story must appear in the 12-month period ending August 30 of the year of the award.    

VIII. If a story is co-authored or co-produced, at least one of the reporters must be a full-time journalist.   

Previous Winners 

 Mary Helen Berg, USA Today

Gordon Dickson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

John Murphy-Teixidor, producer, CNN Money; Honorable Mention:  Tony Illia, Boulder City Review

Henry Schipper, The History Channel, "The Crumbling of America," June 22, 2009.

2009No award given.

Veronica Castelo and Jenna Hiller, News 8 Austin, "Opening the Floodgates: The Trouble with Texas Dams," Nov. 26-29, 2007.

2007Larry Van Dyne, Washingtonian, "Water, Water...," March 2007.

Larry Van Dyne, Washingtonian, "A City of Bridges," March 2006.

Rob Carson, The News Tribune, "Pillars of Strength," "Halfway Home," "Towers grow taller inside big 'bird cages'," "Wet & Windy," "A Bridge with Stuff to Strut," and "Bridge Construction Enters New Phase," August 1, 2004, October 24, 2004, November 17, 2004, December 12, 2004, March 6, 2005, and April 7, 2005, respectively.

Stuart Leavenworth, The Sacramento Bee, "Rising Risk," March 28-30, 2004.

Mark Schleifstein and John McQuaid, The Times-Picayune, "Washing Away," June 23-27, 2003.

James Glanz, The New York Times, "In Collapsing Towers, a Cascade of Failures," and "Wounded Buildings Offer Survival Lessons," November 11 and December 4, 2001, respectively.

Nok-Noi Hauger, Williams-Grand Canyon-News, "GCRY & Ashfork Dam Garner State Civil Engineering Awards," May 10-16, 2001.

George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail, "Infrastructure: A Series," June 12-18, 1999.

No award given.

Jerry Needham, San Antonio-News, "San Antonians Won't See Latest River Marvel," Dec. 7, 1997.

Mariana Greene, The Dallas Morning News, "If The Hard Hat Fits," Nov. 27, 1996.

Linda J. Johnson, The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, "Bridging the Gap," Jan. 28-30, 1996.

Robert Lee Hotz and Kenneth Reich, Los Angeles Times, "Lessons of Kobe: Hope, Caution," Feb. 12, 1995.

Chris Kelly, Dallas Morning News, "Troubled Waters," Sept. 29, 1993.