If you’re a journalist or broadcaster of any kind, you should know about the National Press Club’s Ann Cottrell Free Animal Reporting Award, which recognizes the work of folks who educate the public about animal issues. Last year’s winners included Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal, who wrote about a bomb-sniffing pup who, according to The National Press Club, “couldn’t handle the stress of combat in Afghanistan,” and Brad Woodard of Houston’s KHOU-TV, who covered “conditions at a puppy mill, the effects of the BP oil spill on wildlife in Louisiana, and very bad conditions at an egg factory.” There’s a category for print/online, and one for broadcast, and winners receive $750 (which can buy a lot of tofurkey sandwiches, or, if you’re feeling charitable, hay donations to your favorite sanctuary). If you’re interested in submitting an application, you must get on this pronto, because the deadline is April 1. The work you are submitting must be from 2011.
Throughout the process of learning about this award, I enjoyed reading a bit more about its namesake, Ann Cottrell Free, a writer whose life’s mission involved telling the stories of those who were marginalized by society — whether human or non-human. In the 50’s, Ann’s coverage of animal protection stories ultimately led to the Humane Slaughter and Animal Welfare Acts being passed — bills that admittedly are incredibly flawed, but were, in their time, huge steps forward. Ann Cottrell Free was a true pioneer.