The Pittsburgh Foundation

Nominations now open for Courage in Journalism Award

$5,000 prize in memory of Sally Kalson’s fearlessness, fortitude and excellence in reporting

PITTSBURGH, March 30, 2021Nominations are being accepted now through June 30 for the Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism Award Program at The Pittsburgh Foundation. The annual award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, honors a journalist whose work covering Pennsylvania aligns with Kalson’s legacy of boldly speaking truth to power.

Kalson worked for 30 years as a reporter and columnist, primarily at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She died in 2014 from ovarian cancer. In 2019, her family and friends established the Kalson award to honor a broadcast, print or online media journalist whose reporting demonstrates compassion and solidarity, raises public consciousness of issues, and shows a commitment to justice and structural change for increasing economic, political and social opportunity. Nominations are due June 30 and nominees must apply by July 31, 2021, with the awardee notified on or around September. Full details and the nomination form are available online at

Ed Feinstein, Kalson’s husband for 26 years and a member of the advisory committee that chooses the awardee, reflected on the urgent need for supporting journalists. “The inability to agree on facts and honor truth is just maddening. People who speak the truth in ways that engage the public and potentially change minds are needed now more than ever,” he said. “Our hope is that the Kalson Award encourages journalists to keep fighting the good fight and finding outlets for truth.”

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Helen Ubiñas was named the first Kalson awardee last June. Ubiñas’ columns honor the resilience of gun violence survivors and their families while also documenting the heavy toll that shootings exact on those injured and killed. 

Criteria for the award: The Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism Fund award honors a writer living or working in Pennsylvania and/or writing on issues relevant to the state. The award is granted for a single story or series of works that embody the characteristics of Kalson’s writing – fearlessness, fortitude and excellence in taking on issues of our time. The work must adhere to journalistic principles and must go through a fact-checking or editing process. Works submitted for consideration should also shine a light on an under-reported and/or controversial issue. Nominees must live and/or work in Pennsylvania and preference will be given to journalists in the 10 western Pennsylvania counties.

How to nominate: Journalists may nominate themselves or be nominated by a colleague or supervisor in the field of journalism. The nominator must complete a form and answer questions about the story or series of stories and include a summary of the piece’s impact. Nominations should be submitted at Once eligibility is determined, the nominee will be asked to submit the nominated work. Guided by the standards of courage and outstanding communication exemplified by Kalson’s body of work, an advisory committee—selected by the Foundation and including journalists, academics and media experts—will convene to review works submitted for consideration. The advisory committee members are:

  • Andy Conte, director, Center for Media Innovation, Point Park University.
  • Mila Sanina, executive director, Public Source.
  • Vernon Loeb, politics editor, The Atlantic.
  • Jenise Armstrong, metro columnist, Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • James Steele, investigative reporter, Barlett and Steele.
  • Amy Ginensky, First Amendment attorney, Pepper Hamilton.
  • Tony Norman, columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Ed Feinstein, Kalson’s widower, and a partner with the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Feinstein Doyle Payne and Kravec.

Ubinas received the award shortly after COVID-related lockdown began. Reflecting on her experience of receiving the award in a year she describes as “the most isolating in my career as a journalist” she said, “The Kalson award, which honors a woman whose whole life’s work was about making an impact, gave me a boost to keep going. It’s a reminder to me of how important journalism is in these times when we’re all questioning everything, including our futures, and the world generally in the face of the pandemic.”



Kitty Julian 
The Pittsburgh Foundation