I'm very, very proud to share with you all that BuzzFeed News's Greg Johnsen, John Stanton, and Kate Nocera have been awarded the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress this year.
The National Press Foundation, which gives the award, cited Greg's "magisterial account of a 60-word congressional resolution that authorized military action against those responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. BuzzFeed captures the historic drama of that moment and all that has happened since. The details are unforgettable."
Greg's story, written while he was our Michael Hastings fellow, was all of those things. Original, stunning, and incredibly troubling. It benefited from the powerful platform you all have built and the resources you've earned us. It benefited in particular from strong and thoughtful editing by Steve Kandell and Miriam Elder.
But this wasn't just a single, gorgeous piece of work. It was a series of stories that had a profound impact on the high-stakes intersection of American politics and power. Greg's piece; aggressive and diligent follow-ups by two aggressive, smart, and deeply sourced Capitol Hill reporters, John and Kate, with Katherine Miller's committed editing, revived what had been a moribund conversation about the legality of a widening American war — one the 60 words Greg made famous had allowed to spread to places like Somalia and Libya. That conversation was a major theme of Congress this year, and is being debated on Capitol Hill this week as the year ends. There is a real chance that the legislation at the heart of Greg's story will be repealed as a result of it.
We don't write for awards — even for the Dirksen, which is one of the most competitive in the nation. We write for our readers across the web, and for the impact our journalism can have. But it is good to see our colleagues' great work, and its impact, recognized. And we should be proud that the quality of our work has beaten out that of the best competition, from the The New York Times on. We are the first digital outlet to win this award. More important: We are the first digital outlet to hit as hard as we do in the broadening range of spaces in which we work. And we are just getting rolling.
A final note: We started the Hastings Fellowship to honor Michael's memory, his fearless reporting, and his great storytelling. Greg, who is now on BuzzFeed News's foreign desk out of Istanbul, truly fulfilled that promise, and the mandate we set out to "challenge powerful institutions [and tell] stories that those in power have no particular interest in having told."
Congratulations you three, and let's keep at it.