About the Awards

The annual Community Media Awards have been honoring community-centered journalism since 1994. Scroll down to see a list of past winners.

THE STUDS TERKEL AWARD

Louis B. “Studs” Terkel was not just a name to us. He was a mentor and a guiding star from the founding of the organization in 1989 until he died in 2008. For years, Studs Terkel himself helped choose the recipients of the award and gracefully and graciously led the annual ceremony. Today, the Terkel Award honorees are chosen by the people that Studs recognized for their exceptional journalism: a committee of past Terkel Award winners.

Criteria for the Studs Terkel Community Media Award:

  • Recognizes a body of work rather than a single article or series.
  • It is open to any Chicago-area journalist on any platform at any stage in their career (this can go beyond bylines and include editors, producers, or other 'behind-the-scenes' journalists).
  • Must demonstrate quality journalism and authentic storytelling and be exemplary when it comes to Studs’ gift of elevating people’s voices above power. As Studs said in 2007, the award is meant for journalists who go the extra mile in reporting the news “from the people who made Chicago, news that’s bottom-up rather than up, down. … That’s what this is all about.” Think of an investigative reporter who brings data to life via real people’s stories or a radio journalist who tells stories about people you would never have otherwise met.

At the end of each ceremony, we honor Studs Terkel by playing his favorite song: "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie.


THE UPLIFTING VOICES AWARD (begun in 2014)

Criteria for the Uplifting Voices Award:

  • Recognizes a body of work, rather than a single article or series.
  • It is open to any Chicago-area artist, activist, writer, musician, educator, journalist, or community leader, on any platform at any stage in their career.
  • Must demonstrate examples of work that elevates the voices of people in communities. Think of people who use their own platforms, influence or access for the advancement of Chicago communities that are under-resourced and under-heard. Past winners include poets, activists, nonprofit leaders, and journalists.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT AWARD (begun in 2019)

Criteria for the Ripple Effect Award:

  • Recognizes a body of work, rather than a single article or series.
  • Is open to any journalist on any platform at any stage in their career (this can go beyond bylines and include editors, producers or other 'behind-the-scenes' journalists). Unlike the Studs Terkel Award, the Ripple Effect Award is not limited to Chicago-area journalists, but can include journalists from across the U.S.
  • Is granted to a journalist anywhere in the U.S. whose work has had an impact in Chicago and beyond. Must demonstrate quality journalism that has enlightened and inspired people across the country. Think of journalists whose investigative journalism changed policies, or whose engaging, well-researched stories shifted the public narrative around an issue.

THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD, EMERGING AND ESTABLISHED (begun in 2023)

Criteria for the People's Choice:

  • Recognizes one journalist/media maker/storyteller in each of the following age groups: Emerging/Youth (17 and under); Established (18 and up).
  • Recognizes bodies of work, series, or one article/project.
  • Is open to any journalist/media maker/storyteller on any platform at any stage in their career (this can go beyond bylines and include editors, producers, hosts, speakers, or other 'behind-the-scenes' journalists or storytellers). This category is limited to Chicago-area journalists or storytellers.
  • It is granted to a journalist/media maker/storyteller anywhere in Chicago whose work has positively impacted the city. Must demonstrate quality journalism/media/storytelling that has enlightened and inspired people across the country. Think of journalists/media makers/storytellers whose work inspires or uplifts community members, changes policies, or shifts the public narrative around an issue.