About the Award
Announced in 1995 and first awarded in 1996, the Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence was created by Catholic Relief Services to recognize journalists who demonstrate excellence in reporting on international humanitarian and social justice issues. The award was named after Eileen Egan, Catholic Relief Services' first professional staff layperson, who devoted four decades of her life to assisting refugees and helping the poor in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Her concern for peace led her to cofound the American PAX Association and its successor Pax Christi USA, the American branch of Pax Christi International. She also wrote several books, including For Whom There Is No Room: Scenes From the Refugee World and Catholic Relief Services: The Beginning Years. "Eileen Egan exemplifies what the CRS mission is all about," says CRS President Ken Hackett. "Her recognition of war refugees as human beings worthy of dignity and respect represents the basic principles through which CRS was founded."
In 2006, to celebrate a decade of success, the award was reformatted to include a broader spectrum of reporting. The Egan Award serves as a recognition of the media's contribution toward the creation of a more peaceful and compassionate world, which was a focus of Eileen Egan's life work. The award recognizes stories in outlets with national, regional and local circulation. The new format encourages journalists to increase their coverage of development issues both overseas and in the United States, and to educate the Catholic community in the United States about their role in living a life of solidarity with others.
The awards are judged by an expert panel from the secular media that is knowledgeable on issues pertaining to the developing world. Judges of previous years' awards have included Tim Russert, NBC's Meet the Press; Jeff Frank, The New Yorker; Cokie Roberts, ABC News; Gladees Prieur, People; Jim Cox, USA Today; and many others. All judges are independent of any ties to Catholic Relief Services. Selected judges rank articles based on criteria previously outlined and established by Catholic Relief Services.