Osborn Elliott Prize

For Excellence in Journalism on Asia

Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, affectionately referred to as the “Oz Prize,” honors the late Osborn Elliott, a legendary journalist and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. Elliott set new standards for reporting and editing, and became one of the earliest practitioners of “civic journalism,” the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy.

The Associated Press was awarded the 2019 Oz Elliott Prize for a series entitled "China Clamps Down" that documented how China's ruling Communist Party is asserting itself over the population in the country's far-Western Xinjiang region and explored what this has meant for religious freedom and minority rights in China. The AP team risked detention to report from the far corners of the country, and shed light on the evolving system of social control instituted by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The independent jury that awards the "Oz Prize" said: "The Associated Press spotlighted the human cost of Beijing's use of technology, state power, and regressive social controls to clamp down on minority groups and certain religions. Despite tight state controls and surveillance, the AP reporters showed ingenuity, courage, and persistence in documenting the existence of detention camps and brutal family-separation policies for Muslim citizens of western China." 

Lead reporters on the series were Yanan Wang and Dake Kang, working with a team that included Ng Han GuanGerry ShihErika KinetzMartha MendozaEmily WangSam McNeilLefteris Pitarakis, and Brian Skoloff

Representatives from the AP team were honored at an event at Asia Society in New York on Tuesday, May 21. Yanan Wang and Marjorie Miller, Director of Global News and Enterprise at Associated Press, discussed the reporting and the current media landscape with The New York Times' diplomatic and international correspondent Edward Wong. Jury Chair Marcus Brauchli presented the award.  

The Oz Prize jury also recognized Mujib Mashal, the New York Times’ senior correspondent in Afghanistan as a finalist for the prize for his remarkable stories about the lives and deaths of everyday Afghans. Mashal, who grew up under Taliban rule in Kabul as the son of a laborer, won scholarships at Deerfield Academy and Columbia University, then returned to Kabul to cover Afghanistan.

Mashal's stories included:

Last year’s prize was awarded to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters for their coverage of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh that led to their imprisonment in December 2017. It was the first time in the prize’s 15-year history that the winners were jailed for their work. The two were released on May 7.

The Oz Prize jury is chaired by Marcus Brauchli, managing partner of North Base Media and former editor of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and also includes Dorinda Elliott, SVP/Director, Center for Business, China Institute; Mei Fong, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Director of Communications and Strategy at the Center for Public Integrity; Nisid Hajari, prize-winning author and member, Bloomberg editorial board; and Alec McCabe, Senior Editor, Emerging Markets, Bloomberg News.

Previous Oz Prize Winners

2018: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters
2017: Ellen Barry, The New York Times
2016: Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post
2015: Team of Reporters, Bloomberg News
2014: Team of Reporters, Reuters
2013: Team of Reporters, Bloomberg News 
2012: April Rabkin, Fast Company
2010: Keith Bradsher, The New York Times
2009: Team of ReportersInternational Herald Tribune
2008: Shai OsterThe Wall Street Journal
2007: Evan Osnos, Chicago Tribune
2006: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times; Matthew McAllesterNewsday
2005: Philip P. Pan, The Washington Post
2004: John Pomfret, The Washington Post
2003: Elisabeth RosenthalThe New York Times

About Osborn Elliott, 1924-2008

The Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia honors a legendary journalist whose inclusive public dialogue and civic engagement characterized his life’s work.

Oz Elliott’s career began with the New York Journal of Commerce and TIME magazine half a century ago. He moved to Newsweek, where he served as editor, editor-in-chief, CEO and chairman from 1961 to 1976. During his long tenure, Elliott significantly shaped a new and more populist journalism. By launching the “My Turn” feature, he opened the magazine to a broader range of public opinion, in addition to engaging such regular columnists as Paul Samuelson, Milton Friedman and Meg Greenfield. His proudest accomplishment during those years was Newsweek’s outspoken support for the emerging civil rights movement: in 1963 he devoted a special issue to African-Americans.

Civic duty and journalism were constant themes in his life. In 1975 Oz Elliott became founding chairman of the Citizens Committee for NYC. A year later he became New York’s first Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. This was followed by 15 years as dean and professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he established the Poliak Center for First Amendment Studies and the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism. In 1992 he led a march on Washington of 250,000 people protesting the federal neglect of U.S. cities.

Oz Elliott was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on numerous boards, including Asia Society, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Public Library and Harvard’s Board of Overseers. He was among the first to be inducted into the Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. He served on the Pulitzer Prize Board, wrote books, and received honorary degrees and many journalism awards. Through his leadership as a civic journalist and civic stalwart, he inspired and trained thousands to become active partners in shaping our society. Though Oz died in 2008, his contribution is a lasting legacy.

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