Freelance writers win new $100K journalism prize

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (AP) — Two freelance journalists have won the first American Mosaic Journalism Prize for stories about the struggles of U.S. immigrants and others who the prize founders say have been underrepresented or misrepresented.

Jaeah Lee of San Francisco and Valeria Fernandez of Arizona each will receive $100,000, making it one of the richest prizes for journalism. By comparison, Pulitzer Prize winners generally receive $15,000.

The prize was created by the Heising-Simons Foundation, a family-run charity in Silicon Valley.

The award was for a selection of work by independent reporters that appeared in print, digital, audio or TV mass media between July 2016 and August 2017.

"In today's journalism, freelancers are both vulnerable and valuable," the foundation said in a Tuesday statement announcing the awards. "With trimming of newsroom staff, many journalists are working without the support of an institution and with limited resources. And yet, some of the most important works of journalism come from these freelance journalists who commit long periods of time to their stories."

Lee, for example, spent 17 months with a mother whose son was killed in a police shooting, the announcement said.

"Her writing 'gives readers a keen sense of the voices and concerns of those easily forgotten or neglected in the news,'" the prize judges said.

Lee said being a freelancer is a "rocky road of financial burden, tests on patience and endurance and focus" without support from an institution.

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