Paul Krugman Keynotes and Trevor Aaronson Wins Top Award at The 2012 MOLLY National Journalism Prize Dinner

Honorable Mentions to Jennifer Gonnerman of New York Magazine and Sarah Stillman of The New Yorker


The MOLLY Prize recognizes great American journalism and honors the memory of Molly Ivins, the legendary reporter, columnist and former editor of The Texas Observer. The 2012 annual MOLLY National Journalism Prize has been presented to Trevor Aaronson for his reporting in Mother Jones about FBI informants in U.S. Muslim communities. The awards ceremony in Austin, Texas, featured a keynote address by Nobel-Prize winner Paul Krugman.

Honorable Mention awards were presented to Jennifer Gonnerman of New York Magazine for her story, “The Knock at the Door,” about the plight of a child-welfare supervisor charged in the death of a client and to Sarah Stillman of The New Yorker for her story, “The Invisible Army,” about the low-wage foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The awards are presented annually by The Texas Observer, the non-profit magazine that has covered Texas politics, government, arts and culture for almost 57 years.

Winner of the 2012 MOLLY National Journalism Prize


In addition to his freelance work for Mother Jones, Trevor Aaronson is associate director and co-founder of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization that produces reporting about Florida and Latin America in English and Spanish. Previously, Aaronson was an investigative reporter and editor for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, where his stories ranged from local government investigations to reporting in Asia, Africa and South America. He was also formerly a staff writer for Village Voice Media’s newspapers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Aaronson was a 2010-11 Investigative Reporting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has won more than two dozen national and regional awards, including from the John Jay College/H.F. Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards, Society of Professional Journalists and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.

To read Trevor’s winning Mother Jones article called “The Informants,” which exposes the massive network of FBI informants operating today in U.S. Muslim communities, click here.

Honorable Mentions

Sarah Stillman is a freelance journalist for The New Yorker and other publications, as well as a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where she teaches a course on reporting the global city. Her coverage of America’s wars overseas and the challenges facing soldiers at home has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Nation, The New,, and The Recently, her work has received the National Magazine Award for Public Interest, the Michael Kelly Award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” the Overseas Press Club’s Joe & Laurie Dine Award for International Human Rights Reporting, and the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism.

She won Honorable Mention for her story, “The Invisible Army,” which was published in the June 6, 2011, issue of The New Yorker and exposed the plight of more than 70,000 low-wage foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, many of whom have been subject to grave human rights abuses on U.S. taxpayers’ dime. To read the entire story, click here

Jennifer Gonnerman is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and a contributing writer for Mother Jones. She has also served as a staff writer for The Village Voice, where she covered the criminal justice system. In 2004, Jennifer published her first book, Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett, which chronicles the homecoming of a woman who spent 16 years in prison for a first-time offense under New York’s Rockefeller drug laws. Jennifer’s journalism has garnered other prizes as well, including a Sidney Award in 2009 from the Hillman Foundation, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, and the Meyer Berger Award from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

She won Honorable Mention for her story, “The Knock at the Door,” which was published in the September 19, 2011 issue of New York Magazine and detailed the plight of a child-welfare supervisor charged with the death of a malnourished little girl in New York. To read the entire story, click here.

The 2012 MOLLY Prize Dinner

The MOLLY prizes were presented at a June 7 dinner in Austin, Texas, which featured The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Paul Krugman, as the keynote speaker. Texas State Representative Donna Howard of Austin was the emcee and a tribute to Bernard Rapoport featured an audiotaped message from Bill Moyers.

Mary Margaret & Ray Farabee of Austin received The Bernard Rapoport Philanthropy Award.

Prize presentations were made by Texas Observer editors and reporters. The MOLLY Board of Advisors, composed of prominent journalists and scholars, reviewed the entries and selected the winners.

The MOLLY National Journalism Prize, including a $5,000 cash award, was established by The Texas Observer to recognize print or online journalism of exceptional merit that focuses on civil liberties and social justice, and embodies the intelligence, deep thinking and/or passionate wit that marked the work of the late Molly Ivins. The honorable mention prizes include $1,000 cash awards.

Our Generous Sponsors

The Texas Observer is grateful to everyone who attended the dinner and contributed to a memorable evening. We are particularly thankful for our generous sponsors, including:

Melissa Jones, In Honor of John T. Jones, Jr.
Susan Longley
Alec Rhodes

Lisa Blue Baron
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Dr. Don Carleton
Janet Dewey & Bob Ozer
Mary Margaret & Ray Farabee
Renee & Russ Graham
Bill & Diana Hobby
Libby & Dale Linebarger
Randy Parten
Janis & Joe Pinnelli / Carlton Carl
Audre Rapoport & Family
Nelson Roach
Suzanne & Marc Winkelman / MFI Foundation

Linda Aaker & Bob Armstrong / Babe & Marilyn Schwartz
Carol Barger
Becky Beaver & John Duncan
Susan Blount
Beverly Fondren & John Scott / Caryl Yontz
Nena & Lukin Gilliland / Clint Hackney Group / Charla & John Pouland
Charlotte Herzele
Jim Marston & Annette LoVoi / Alfred Stanley & Kathleen Guido
Trilla & Bob Pando / Mary Nell & Phil Mathis
Debbie & Jim Parish
Chula Reynolds
Sharron Rush & Ron Hicks
Nancy Scanlan
Donna & George Shipley
Sunny & Shelton Smith

Activist American Journalism Historians Association, Terry Lueck / Patrick Cox
Frances Barton & Dick Leverich / Geoff Rips Randy Chapman, Texas Legal Services Center
Lois Chiles, Lois Chiles Foundation
Lynn Cohagan / Clare Hudspeth
Jan Demetri / Margie Rine & Friends
Carol Flake / Margot & Grant Thomas
Cha Guzman & Gilberto Ocañas / Geronimo Rodriguez & Nicole Holt Rodriguez
Bill Ikard / Anne Wynne, Ikard Wynne LLP
Mary Jo Kennard
Joan & Jeff Lava / Nona Niland
Conrad Martin, Stewart R. Mott Foundation
Suzanne McDaniel
Judith & Ed Parken
Carrin Patman
Bill & Suzy Reid / Sandie McClellan
Texas Observer Next Generation of Leaders 2012Class
Mary Willis

For all of their hard work, we also thank the fabulous MOLLY Prize Steering Committee:

Mary Margaret Farabee, Chairman
Susan Crews Bailey • Jayne Barrett •Frances Barton • Becky Beaver • Susan Blount • Carlton Carl • Jan Demetri • Karen Farabee • Carol Flake • Beverly Fondren • Charlotte Herzele • Clare Hudspeth • Mary Barminski Johnson • Melissa Jones • Mary Jo Kennard • Joan Lava • Susan Longley • Charlotte McCann • Sandie McClellan • Barbara Morgan • Susan Morris • Nona Niland • Janis Pinnelli • Suzy Reid • Margie Rine • Geoff Rips • Nancy Scanlan • Sunny Smith • Sara Speights • Ellen Sweets • Margot Thomas • Kelly White • Caryl Yontz

All proceeds go to support the nation’s best investigative journalism at The Texas Observer and The MOLLY National Journalism Prize.