Military Veterans in Journalism is proud to announce our awardees for the Top Military Veterans in Journalism of 2020. This year has seen the need for good, accurate and in-depth reporting grow more and more critical with each passing day. MVJ wants to acknowledge the importance of that work and recognize some of the military veterans in journalism who have done it. 

Our community is strong and this list shows just how strong. The stories submitted for this year’s Top Military Veterans in Journalism ranged from local beat news to international investigative work. They included journalists from local, national, and international outlets. The stories cover a range of topics. All of those aspects are represented in our final list. They are a credit to the broad and diverse community we are building. 

All of these award winners have a common bond. They all served in our nation’s armed forces. Only 2 percent of our media workers are veterans, even though more than 7 percent of Americans have served in our military. This list is an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work done by these journalists. It’s also a chance to hold them up as an example. They are an example for what newsrooms around the country could have on their teams. They’re an example of where veterans that want to move into the field of journalism could go. Quite frankly, they’re doing amazing work.

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Honorable Mention

Military Veterans in Journalism honors the work and courage of reporter and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Austin Tice.

In May 2012, Austin went to Syria as a freelance journalist. His coverage was used by the likes of The Washington Post, CBS, and other outlets. Later that year, just south of Damascus he was detained at a checkpoint. Five weeks later, a 43-second video emerged with the title, “Austin Tice is Alive.” It showed Austin being held by a group of unidentified armed men.

Military Veterans in Journalism strongly supports his family’s mission to bring him home safely.

Austin Tice, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a freelance journalist who was kidnapped while reporting in Syria on August 14, 2012. He is an Eagle Scout and grew up dreaming of becoming an international correspondent for NPR. He completed two years of study at Georgetown University Law Center before going to Syria.

AUSTIN TICE

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The Winners

Andrew Dyer, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been a San Diego Union-Tribune military reporter since 2018. He previously worked for Voice of San Diego, the Daily Aztec, San Diego CityBeat, and the Southwestern Sun. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University-California State University.

ANDREW DYER

Tawnell D. Hobbs, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is the national K-12 education reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She has spent more than 17 years covering education issues, ranging from student testing to financial disasters. Her story shines a light on the increased education disparity for Black and low-income students due to the pandemic.

TAWNELL HOBBS

Chris Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a freelance photojournalist focusing on digital and forensic investigative reporting to combat disinformation spread by American white supremacist groups. He’s covered the war in Afghanistan, as well as political and breaking news coverage in the United States.

CHRIS JONES

Kelly Kennedy, a U.S. Army veteran, is the Managing Editor for The War Horse. She is the co-author for Fight Like a Girl. She’s been published by the New York Times and has contributed to the crucial conversation surrounding women in the military. Kelly did in-depth reporting on the Iraq War and has seen combat both as a civilian journalist and as a U.S. soldier.

KELLY KENNEDY

Kaj Larsen, a U.S. Navy veteran, is filmmaker and journalist. The former Navy SEAL has produced work for the likes of ABC, NBC, Vice and many more. In the Heroin documentary Larsen’s team uncovers a new trafficking route out of Afghanistan that ultimately ending in Asia. This “farm to arm” chronology of one of the world’s most popular drugs has never been documented on film before.

KAJ LARSEN

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Winning Story:
Heroin

J.P. Lawrence, a U.S. Army veteran, has been a downrange reporter covering Afghanistan and Iraq for Stars & Stripes since 2018. He previously reported for the San Antonio Express and Albany Times Union. He has also been published by the New York Review of Books, Vice, the Intercept and the Associated Press. Lawrence studied at Bard College and Columbia University in New York.

J.P. LAWRENCE

Tony Mobley, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been a photojournalist born and raised in Washington D.C. He continues to document stories of social justice reform and activism. His recent work has been featured in Vogue and Buzzfeed as well as in a PSA for BET’s (Black Entertainment Network) Content for Change.

TONY MOBLEY

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Winning Story:
Photo Series: Black Lives Matter Protests

Stephanie Ramos, a U.S. Army Reserve Major with 18 years of service,  is a national correspondent at ABC News who has covered a variety of stories from the contentious Alabama Senate race, the tragic Parkland shooting, Hurricane Irma, the 2016 election, to the Charlottesville protests. She joined ABC’s Washington bureau in 2015 and reports for Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and served as a Pentagon reporter. Prior to ABC, Stephanie reported for local stations in Kansas City, MO; Topeka, KS; and Columbia, SC where she established herself as a tenacious reporter covering important issues such as immigration, politics and crime.

 

 

STEPHANIE RAMOS

Sara Sneath, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a freelance reporter specializing in environmental issues and investigative journalism. She has reported for The Times-Picayune, The Victoria Advocate and Willamette Week. She holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and in journalism from the University of Kansas.

SARA SNEATH

Kevin Sullivan, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is the creator and host of the podcast Twenty-One Gun. He highlights the experiences of post-9/11 veterans. Sullivan is also a physician assistant. He served in the Air Force as a C-130 cargo plane navigator.

KEVIN SULLIVAN

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Winning Story:
#35 Hamody Jasim: The Terrorist Whisperer Part I

This list was compiled from an open nomination through Military Veterans in Journalism. Nominees were not required to be members of MVJ. Judges focused on originality, production value, newsworthiness, and journalistic quality. They also relied on their own extensive experience in this profession.

Judges for The Top 10 Military Veterans in Journalism of 2020

We’re immeasurably thankful to have the support of these journalists as our judges. MVJ would also like to thank John Seward, for conducting the operations and behind-the-scenes to help make this list a reality. John juggled creating this list for its inaugural run with his first semester of his journalism master’s degree. We’re excited to see his work in the future.