Denny McAuliffe selected as 2015 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient

Posted by Rebecca Landsberry on 06/03/2015

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Native American Journalists Association has selected Denny McAuliffe as the recipient of the 2015 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award, which recognizes important contributions made by journalists in the past and encourages the new generation to achieve career excellence.

The Milestone Achievement Award exemplifies NAJA’s mission by honoring journalists who have filled leadership roles and impacted media in Indian Country and beyond.

NAJA President Mary Hudetz nominated McAuliffe for the award, citing examples of McAuliffe’s impact on Native journalism, with a focus on the launching of Native students’ careers.

“It's hard to capture the full scope of his impact during his decade at UM, where he started Reznet and operated it as a vibrant website filled with student voices… The American Indian Journalism Institute launched dozens of careers in media. Portions of NAJA's current NAJF are now modeled after AIJI,” Hudetz said in her nomination letter.

The NAJA Board of Directors selected McAuliffe as the winner through a vote after reviewing all nominations.

“I am humbled to be chosen for this honor, and grateful to the board of directors of the Native American Journalists Association for selecting me over what I'm sure were far more qualified nominees,” McAuliffe stated in his acceptance letter.

Support for the award is provided through NAJA’s partnership with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 2015 marks the second year Medill has sponsored a $5,000 prize for the winner.

Denny McAuliffe (Osage) has been an editor at The Washington Post for more than 20 years in two stints: from 1983 to 1999, mostly as an editor on the Foreign Desk (he’s proud to have worked for the legendary Ben Bradlee), and for the past five years, mostly as night editor for the financial news section, enjoying his bleacher-seat view of the dawn of the Jeff Bezos Era.

In 1999, Denny took a year off from The Post -- it stretched to nearly 11 – to run a Native American journalism program at the University of Montana School of Journalism in Missoula. He created and directed a training and mentoring Web site called reznet for Native college students, many attending tribal and other colleges that lacked journalism courses or even school papers.

To fund the program, Denny raised $1.2 million from five foundations over seven years.

Reznet reporters covered their campuses and communities, and were paid $50 per story, photo gallery or video. The idea was to help them acquire the “clips” they needed to secure paid internships. Their resumes and cover letters were subjected to thorough vetting by Bill Elsen, a retired Washington Post recruiter, one of several professional editors and mentors hired to work with reznet students. Reznet continued the journalism training many of the students received at the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota.

With Jack Marsh and Ray Chavez, Denny helped plan the first AIJI and taught at the three-week summer program for most of its dozen years.

For his work on reznet, Denny was awarded the 2005 Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, presented annually to a journalism educator committed to preparing minority students for successful careers in journalism.

Denny was a member of the first Osage News advisory board, created under the Osage Nation’s free press act of 2008 to help shield the award-winning tribal newspaper from political interference.

He also won the 1995 Oklahoma Book Award for Non-Fiction for “The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: An American History,” about the “Reign of Terror” murder spree against the Osages in the 1920s (republished in paperback as “Bloodland: A Family Story of Oil, Greed and Murder on the Osage Reservation”).

McAuliffe is a U.S. Army veteran, serving in West Berlin, where he earned his bachelor’s degree at an on-base branch of the University of Maryland. He’s the 1968 winner of Vanderbilt University’s Grantland Rice Memorial Scholarship for Sportswriting.

Medill Alumni Relations will host a Milestone Achievement Award Reception with alumni, students and McAuliffe as the guest of honor from 6-8:30 p.m., EDT Wednesday, July 8 at the Medill DC News Bureau, located near the White House.

Conference attendees are welcome to attend the free event and may RSVP with the password “NAJA” on the Eventbrite page: Drinks and appetizers will be provided and a valid ID is required for entrance to the building. 

The formal award presentation will be Saturday, July 11 during the National Native Media Conference in Washington, D.C., where NAJA will host the annual National Native Media Awards Banquet recognizing excellence in reporting and news by Native and non-Native journalists across the U.S., and Canada.

Conference registration rates start at $300 for NAJA members through June 30. Banquet tickets are also available as a stand-alone item for $85 each on NAJA’s website at: Both events will take place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City located in Arlington, Virginia.

About NAJA

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) empowers journalists through the provision of resources to Native and non-Native media.

NAJA represents more than 400 members working in national and tribal media outlets, independent freelancers, associations, academic institutions and other organizations. Through programs that promote diversity and defend challenges to free press, speech and expression, NAJA promotes accurate media coverage of Indian Country.