The Zenger Award is named for a husband and wife team of pioneering journalists. It is a joint award presented by the Arizona Newspapers Association and the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
The University of Arizona School of Journalism is one of only about 100 fully accredited journalism programs in the nation. Its classes range from traditional reporting skills to internet research and computerized graphic design. Its two newspapers, the local edition of The Tombstone Epitaph and El Independiente, the nation’s only student-run bilingual newspaper, are unique in American journalism education. Jacqueline Sharkey is head of the department.
Who are the Zengers?
John Peter Zenger was editor of the New York Weekly Journal in 1734 when he was jailed by British colonial authorities on charges of seditious libel. He had criticized the corrupt administration of New York’s governor, William Cosby. While Zenger was imprisoned, his wife, Anna Catherine Zenger, continued to publish the newspaper.
Zenger’s subsequent trial and acquittal is considered a landmark case in the history of freedom of the press, paving the way for the American Revolution.
Here’s the story about the Zengers:
In the early 18th century, John Peter Zenger made a stand for a free press.
Zenger came to New York a poor immigrant boy from Palatinate, a region of ancient Germany of which Heidelberg was capitol until 1720. After serving an apprenticeship at Bradford press shop, Zenger acquired some type and a press and set up for himself. It was November 5, 1733, when John Peter Zenger founded the New York Weekly Journal. In the very first printed edition of the Journal, a story was published that opposed an appointee by Governor William Cosby. The contested seat was that of the High Sheriff. The article included a parody about a 4-foot monkey directed at the Sheriff. The paper continued to oppose the popular majority in New York, giving citizens a new perspective.
The Governor did not look highly upon the Journal, and ordered Zenger’s arrest on the grounds of seditious libel. The grand jury refused to return any indictments. Finally, Cosby issued his own warrant for Zenger’s arrest.
For nine months Zenger edited his paper via the light shining through his cell door, while his wife, Anna Catherine, kept the presses rolling.
In August 1735, Andrew Hamilton, a famous Philadelphia lawyer, took the case on John Peter Zenger’s behalf. Hamilton delivered impressive speeches which resulted in the jury’s “not guilty” decision. Hamilton pleaded for the admissibility of evidence as to the truth of an alleged libel, and the right of the jury to determine whether the publication is defamatory or seditious.
The Zenger Trial had a great influence upon the popular feeling as to the importance of the freedom of the press, and upon the development of the concept of liberty in general.
2017 — Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times
2016 — Dana Priest, Washington Post investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
2015 — Kathy Gannon, AP foreign correspondent, and Anja Niegringhaus, AP foreign photographer
2014 — Paul Steiger, the founding editor-in-chief and CEO of ProPublica
2013 — Jonathan Randal, journalist, foreign correspondent and author
2012 — Rocío Gallegos Rodríguez and Sandra Rodríguez Nieto, investigative reporters, El Diario de Juárez, Mexico
2009 — Tom Arviso Jr., Navajo Times
2007 — Jerry Mitchell, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger
2005 — Bill Moyers, Broadcast Journalist
2003 — Vanessa Leggett, Lecturer and free lance writer
2001 — Lou Boccardi and The Associated Press
2000 — Paul K. McMasters, The Freedom Forum
1998 — U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont
1997 — Mark Goodman, Student Press Law Center
1996 — Nat Hentoff, Washington Post
1995 — Ben Bagdikian, media scholar
1994 — Investigative Reporters & Editors
1993 — Jane E. Kirtley, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1992 — Helen Thomas, United Press International
1991 — Peter Arnett, Cable News Network
1990 — Terry A. Anderson, The Associated Press
1989 — Robert C. Maynard, The Oakland Tribune
1988 — Jean H. Otto, The Rocky Mountain News
1987 — Eugene L. Roberts Jr., The Philadelphia Inquirer
1986 — John R. Finnegan, St. Paul (Minn.)Pioneer Press & Dispatch
1985 — Thomas Winship, The Boston Globe
1984 — Tom Wicker, The New York Times
1982 — Fred W. Friendly, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
1981 — Paul S. Cousley, Alton (Ill.) Telegraph
1980 — Walter Cronkite, CBS
1979 — Jack C. Landau, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1978 — Robert H. Estabrook, Lakeville (Conn.) Journal
1977 — Robert W. Greene, Newsday
1976 — Donald F. Bolles, The Arizona Republic
1975 — Seymour M. Hersh, The New York Times
1974 — Thomas E. Gish, The Mountain Eagle
1973 — Katharine Graham, The Washington Post
1972 — Dan Hicks Jr., Monroe County Democrat
1971 — The New York Times
1970 — Erwin D. Canham, The Christian Science Monitor
1969 — J. Edward Murray, The Arizona Republic
1968 — Wes Gallagher, The Associated Press
1967 — John S. Knight, Knight Newspapers, Inc.
1966 — Arthur Krock, The New York Times
1965 — Eugene C. Pulliam, The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette
1964 — John Netherland Heiskell, Arkansas Gazette
1963 — James B. Reston, The New York Times
1962 — John H. Colburn, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
1961 — Clark R. Mollenhoff, Cowles Publications
1960 — Virgil M. Newton Jr., Tampa (Fla.) Tribune
1959 — Herbert Brucker, Hartford Courant
1958 — John Moss, U.S. House Govermental Information Subcommittee
1957 — James R. Wiggins, The Washington (D.C.) Post and Times Herald
1956 — James S. Pope, Louisville Courier Journal
1955 — Basil L. Walters, Chicago Daily News & Knight Newspapers
1954 — E. Palmer Hoyt, The Denver Post