SPJVA accepting nominations for 2020 George Mason Award

The Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter, seeks nominations for its 55th George Mason Award, to be presented in fall 2020.

The annual award recognizes a person in Virginia who has done something extraordinary for journalism and the public: reporting and writing that has righted a wrong, caused a sea change in attitudes, changed a law, started a watchdog group that exposed violation of the public trust, defended a reporter or news organization from unjust persecution, forced a reluctant government to make the people’s business public, mentored young reporters who went on to outstanding careers, or some other specific, noteworthy accomplishment.

Past winners have included reporters, columnists, editorial writers, publishers, broadcast station owners, attorneys, directors of public interest organizations and professional development associations, among others. They have worked for organizations large and small.

You may nominate yourself or someone else. Nominations should be made in letter form to Wilford Kale, chair of the SPJ Virginia Pro George Mason Award Committee, via email at kalehouse@aol.com or addressed to 427 Hempstead Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188. Please mark attention to Attn: Mason Nominee. A resume and supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation from peers, may also be submitted.

Deadline for nominations is Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.

SPJ Virginia Pro named the award for Mason, Virginia’s “forgotten founding father,” because he risked lifelong friendships and personal fortune by insisting that the fledgling United States protect freedom of the press and the other civil liberties by enacting a Bill of Rights. He was born in Fairfax County in 1725, helped frame the Virginia Constitution and in 1776 wrote its Declaration of Rights, the first authoritative formulation of the doctrine of inalienable rights. Mason’s work influenced Thomas Jefferson in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

The chapter has presented the George Mason Award since 1964 to journalists and others who have supported freedom of the press and made significant contributions to Virginia journalism. It expresses the esteem of SPJ members, who are committed to ethics, freedom of information, education and legal defense of reporters in the practice of journalism.

Questions or concerns may be sent to virginiaprospj@gmail.com.