Rick Atkinson, a reporter for The Washington Post, has won the 21st annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. The $5,000 award recognizes journalists whose high standards for accuracy and substance help foster a better public understanding of National Defense. The award was presented by Jack Ford, son of the late President Gerald R. Ford and chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, at a National Press Club luncheon on June 2, 2008. Following the presentation of the award, Vice President Richard Cheney addressed the audience.
When announcing their decision to award Rick Atkinson the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense in 2007, the judges issued the following statement:
“The judges are pleased to report the selection of Rick Atkinson of The Washington Post as the winner of the 2008 Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. Mr. Atkinson’s series of articles, Left of Boom, brought clarity to the US effort to defeat IED’s — a complex issue and one that has become a critical factor in the Iraq conflict.
The judges felt that Mr. Atkinson delivered an original perspective, great depth of analysis and a wealth of investigative research to the topic, spanning the spectrum of tactical, strategic, organizational and technology challenges. The panel concluded that his series illuminated these issues not only for the general public, but for public officials as well.
Overall, the articles tell a cogent story of conflict in the 21st century – a continual race between offense and the defense, technology and countermeasures. It offered a singular degree of readability, interweaving views from top military strategists to bomb technicians on the “long walk” to Iraqis witnesses on the ground. The judges commend Mr. Atkinson for a timely, impressive and well written work.”
The judges for this year’s contest were:
Chair, Debra van Opstal, Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs, Council on Competitiveness; Peter Rodman, Senior Fellow for the Brookings Institution; Robert Holzer, Director of Outreach for the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Force Transformation; Erik Peterson, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Mike Champness, Principal Enterprise Systems Engineer in the Transportation Security Division at the MITRE Corporation.