2020: Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post (Story)
(Special Recognition: Taryn Finley, Huffington Post; Other Finalists: Paul Farhi, The Washington Post; Michael Grynbaum, The New York Times)
2019: Nieman Reports from the Nieman Foundation (Story)
(Finalists: Paul Farhi, The Washington Post; Michael Calderone, Politico)
2018: Paul Farhi, The Washington Post (Story)
(Finalists: Nieman Reports from the Nieman Foundation; Scott Nover, The Atlantic)
2017: David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun (Story)
(Other finalists: Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept; Nieman Reports from the Nieman Foundation)
2016: David Folkenflik, NPR (Story)
(Other Finalists: Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept; Nieman Reports from the Nieman Foundation)
2015: "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter/CNN (Story)
(Other Finalists: Michael Calderone, Huffington Post; Jeff Dvorkin, "Now the Details")
2014: Nieman Reports from the Nieman Foundation (Story)
(Other Finalists: "On the Media" and Charles Lewis for "The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity")
2013: "Beat the Press" from WGBH-TV, hosted by Emily Rooney. (Story)
(Other Finalists: Columbia Journalism Review and NPR.org)
2012: "On the Media" and WNYC Radio with co-hosts Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone (Story)
(Other Finalists: Columbia Journalism Review's United States Project; "Empty: The Brain Drain in Local TV News," Quinnipiac University)
2011: "On the Media" and WNYC Radio with co-hosts Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone (Story)
(Other Finalists: Columbia Journalism Review; Jack Shafer, Reuters)
2010: James Rainey, Los Angeles Times (Story)
(Other Finalists: American Journalism Review; Mark Prendergast, Stars and Stripes; WNYC Radio/"On the Media")
- 2009: Columbia Journalism Review
- 2008: Project for Excellence in Journalism
- 2007: "Frontline," PBS
- 2006: Byron Calame, Public Editor, The New York Times
- 2005: "Press Clips" columns by Sydney H. Schanberg in The Village Voice
- 2004: "State of the News Media by Project" for Excellence in Journalism (Director of Project for Excellence in Journalism, Tom Rosenstiel)
- 2003: Lori Robertson for articles in American Journalism Review
- 2002: Allan Wolper for "Ethics Corner" in Editor & Publisher
- 2001: Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel for "The Elements of Journalism"
- 2000: The Media Unit of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer"
- 1999: Alicia C. Shepard for eight articles in American Journalism Review
- 1998: James S. Ettema and Theodore L. Glasser for their book "Custodians of Conscience: Investigative Journalism and Public Virtue"
- 1997: Edwin Diamond, a Lifetime Achievement Award, for his 45-year career as a media critic, author, and professor of journalism.
- 1996: Ellen Hume for her book "Tabloids, Talk Radio, and the Future of News: Technology's Impact on Journalism"
- 1995: Phyliss Kaniss for her book "The Media and the Mayor's Race: The Failure of Urban Political Reporting"
Lowell Mellett Award for Media Criticism
1994: Nieman Reports for its treatment of health and religion coverage
1993: William Puette for his book "Through Jaundiced Eyes: How the Media View Organized Labor"
1992: Stephen Klaidman for his book "Health in the Headlines"
1991: Tom Rosenstiel of the Los Angeles Times, for his articles on the role of media in the overthrow of Communist governments in Eastern Europe, technological and social change in the television industry, and media coverage of the Iraq-Kuwait crisis.
1990: Ben H. Bagdikian for his article "Missing From the News" in The Progressive, and for cumulative press evaluation.
1989: Sheila Kaplan for her article "The Powers that Be Lobbying" in the Washington Monthly
1988: Martin Schram for his book "The Great American Video Game"
1987: Jonathan Alter for his work as news media editor of Newsweek
1986: Norman Isaacs for his book "Untended Gates" and Anthony Marro
for his article "When the Government Tells Lies" in the Columbia Journalism Review
1985: KPIX-TV, San Francisco, Calif., for "Second Look"; Don Harrison of the Philadelphia Daily News for his column "The Press"
1984: The St. Louis Journalism Review
1983: ABC News for "Viewpoint" and David Shaw for media criticism in the Los Angeles Times
1982: Steven Hess for his book "The Washington Reporters"
1981: A. Kent MacDougall of the Los Angeles Times for analysis of media coverage of business
1980: Walt Harrington of the Allentown Call-Chronicle for critical examination of his newspaper company's role in a community controversy.
1979: The St. Louis Journalism Review