The McElheny Award

The Victor K. McElheny Award honors outstanding local and regional journalism covering issues in science, public health, technology, or the environment. Each year, the award honors a single entry — be it a series or standalone piece — with a $5,000 prize. Submissions for the 2020 Victor K. McElheny Award will be accepted from December 1st, 2019 through January 31st, 2020. Click here to read the submission guidelines, and click here to submit a contest entry.

Contest Mission

Victor K. McElheny

We may think of science as something remote from where we live — our hometowns and home states. Yet it is just there that science touches our daily lives, in areas as diverse as climate change, technological upheaval, and access to health care. This is why science literacy has never been more important — and local and regional journalists have a central role in promoting it.

A critical part of assuring journalism excellence is to honor it. The Victor K. McElheny Award — for outstanding coverage of science, public-health, technology, or environmental issues at the local or regional level — does just that. Sponsored by the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the award honors the exceptional work done by journalists illuminating issues in their own communities. While some science journalism contests have “small market” categories, the McElheny Award is aimed exclusively at local and regional outlets and celebrates such work with a single award of $5,000 and a ceremony hosted by KSJ.

The judges are encouraged to honor investigative, community-service, and compelling narrative journalism — journalism that breaks new ground and makes a difference. In the words of Victor McElheny: “The prize can help illustrate a continuing contribution to the maximum level of public understanding of what technology and science are achieving, and what these achievements imply for humanity.”

Past winners

The 2019 McElheny Award was presented to Tony Bartelme, Chad Dunbar, and Emory Parker, of The Charleston Post and Courier, for their series “Into the Gulf Stream,” an investigative series that shed light on a little-known impact of climate change and an overlooked risk of offshore drilling on the U.S. east coast. Judges also recognized, as finalists, the Seattle Times series “Hostile Waters” and the Tampa Bay Times feature “The Last Grove.”


The McElheny Award is made possible with a generous gift from Victor K. McElheny and Ruth McElheny, along with a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation. To help support our mission to showcase impactful local and regional science journalism, consider contributing to the McElheny Award Fund.