The Aronson Awards

Social Justice Journalism & Cartooning with a Conscience

group award pic


Dear Friends,

The Hunter College Department of Film and Media Studies has made the difficult decision to close the James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism. Our decision was prompted by a lack of funding, and we make it with a heavy heart.

The Aronsons was a jewel. For 30 years it honored some of the best and the bravest journalists: New York Times columnist Bob Herbert who without compromise wrote about police brutality, Gary Webb whose exposure of the Iran Contra war sent shock waves internationally, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now for bringing a clear social justice vision to reporting, Alan Nairn, Gary Young, Herb Boyd, Kevin Sawyer from inside the prison walls of San Quentin, and Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman, and Dylan Purcell, dogged exposure Sick Schools, and Susan Ferriss’ outstanding series “Shocked and Humiliated” which revealed how federal agents at US airports, at border crossings and in immigration detention used shackling, handcuffing, and hours of interrogation and vaginal probing in the quest for possible hidden drugs.

And there was the Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning with a Conscience, awarded to Molly Ivins who demonstrated that there is no contradiction between passionate social commitment and rollicking humor.

This is just a glimpse of the journalists the Aronson’s awarded over three decades.

James Aronson was a professor at Hunter College. The founder of the independent left weekly newspaper The National Guardian, Aronson was a maverick. He collected a wealth of materials written by W.E.B. Du Bois, now part of the UMass Amherst archives, and he was the first American professor invited to teach journalism in the Peoples Republic of China in 1979. Aronson taught at many of the private universities in New York City, but it wasn’t until he landed a job at CUNY that he found his home.

After his death in 1988 the Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism was founded to foster his belief that there is in the United States a company of honest journalists of all ages, conscious of the potential power of an informed people.

We will miss the excitement, hard work and passion that the James Aronson Awards gave us.

Tami Kashia Gold
Blanca Vazquez
Directors, James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism