Alumni Honored with 2020 Excellence Awards in Journalism

  • By Amy Dunkin
Alumni Awards for Excellence winners
Clockwise from top left: Jaime Longoria, Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, Orla McCaffrey, Diara J. Townes

The Newmark Graduate School of Journalism is proud to present four distinguished alumni with 2020 Awards for Excellence. The awards recognize achievements in investigative, business, social justice, and general reporting.

The prize winners were originally scheduled to be announced on May 19 at the school’s annual Awards for Excellence dinner that supports scholarships and internships for Newmark J-School students. However, the in-person gathering in Manhattan was unable to take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the alumni are featured accepting their prizes in a video introduced by MSNBC Host Al Velshi, who has been the dinner’s emcee for the past several years.

Please join the J-School community in congratulating Shane Dixon Kavanaugh ‘10, winner of the Stephen B. Shepard Prize for Investigative Reporting; Orla McCaffrey ‘18, winner of the Frederic Wiegold Prize for Business Journalism; Diara J. Townes ‘19, winner of the Newsweek Magazine Alumni Prize; and Jaime Longoria ‘19, winner of the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Social Justice Reporting.


The Stephen B. Shepard Prize for Investigative Reporting celebrates the immense contribution of Founding Dean Emeritus Shepard to the school he served for eight years. Philanthropist Leonard Tow, a longtime supporter of the Newark J-School who provided funding for the award, hopes it will inspire graduates to produce more high-impact investigative journalism. Before launching the J-School, Shepard was editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek magazine.

The Frederic Wiegold Prize for Business Journalism, established in 2009, recognizes a graduate who demonstrates extraordinary talent and promise in coverage of business topics. Established by Wiegold’s family and friends in his memory, the prize honors the former senior editor of Bloomberg Markets and 18-year veteran of The Wall Street Journal.

The Newsweek Magazine Alumni Prize was created in 2013 when more than 300 former Newsweek staffers, including Founding Dean Emeritus Stephen B. Shepard, gathered at the J-School to pay tribute to their former employer. The prize is given to a graduating student who best exemplifies the values, spirit, and excellence of Newsweek.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Social Justice Reporting is presented to a graduate whose reporting has demonstrated excellence and commitment to social justice. Sidney Hillman, an immigrant who was the founding president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, fought tirelessly to build a vibrant union movement extending beyond the shop floor to all aspects of working people’s lives. His belief that a free and independent press should expose injustice inspired the union to establish the Hillman Prizes for Journalism, which have honored investigative journalism and commentary in service of the common good since 1950.