The Ridenhour Courage Prize

2005

Seymour M. Hersh

Hersh first wrote for The New Yorker in 1971 and has been a regular contributor to the magazine since 1993. His journalism and publishing prizes include the Pulitzer Prize, five George Polk Awards, the National Magazine Award and more than a dozen other prizes for investigative reporting on My Lai (with Ridenhour serving as one of his key sources), the CIA’s bombing of Cambodia, Henry Kissinger's wiretapping and the CIA’s efforts against Chile's Salvador Allende, among other topics.

In 2004, Hersh exposed the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in a series of pieces in the magazine; early in 2005, he was awarded the National Press Foundation’s W.M. Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award and received his fifth George Polk award, making him that award’s most honored laureate.

Hersh was born in 1937 in Chicago and graduated in 1958 from the University of Chicago. He began his newspaper career as a police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago. He served in the Army and worked for a suburban newspaper and then for UPI and AP until late 1967, when he joined the presidential campaign of Eugene J. McCarthy as speechwriter and press secretary. Hersh joined the New York Times in 1972, working in Washington and New York. He left the paper in 1979 and has been a freelance writer ever since, with two six-month returns on special assignment to the Times Washington bureau.

Hersh has published eight books, most recently Chain of Command, which was based on his reporting for The New Yorker on Abu Ghraib. His book prizes include the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times award for biography and a second Sidney Hillman award, for The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. Hersh has also won two Investigative Reporters & Editors prizes, for the Kissinger book in 1983 and for a study of American foreign policy and the Israeli nuclear bomb program, The Samson Option, in 1992. In 2004, Hersh won a National Magazine Award for public interest for three pieces: “Lunch with the Chairman,” “Selective Intelligence” and “The Stovepipe.”