Al NakkulaThe award, sponsored by the Journalism department at the College of Media, Communication and Information and the Denver Press Club, honors the late Al Nakkula, a 46-year veteran of the Rocky Mountain News whose tenacity made him a legendary police reporter. Nakkula passed away in 1990.

The award is for work produced by a reporter or reporting team in print and/or online platforms in the United States in 2023. Entries should take the form of a story or series about one topic and/or event. Sorry, this award is not for broadcast work. 

The first-place prize is $2,000. The winner will also be invited to speak to classes at the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication and Information.

The award will be announced at the Denver Press Club’s Damion Runyon event. The second-place finisher will receive a certificate of merit.

Learn more about the 2023 winner: Secret 911 call analysis


Year Name(s) Story News Organization
2023 Brett Murphy "Words of Conviction: Tracing a Junk Science Through the Justice System" ProPublica
2022 Meribah Knight (Nashville Public Radio) and Ken Armstrong (ProPublica) "Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge" ProPublica (in partnership with Nashville Public Radio)
2021 Eric Umansky with Adriana Gallardo, Lena Groeger, Joshua Kaplan, Topher Sanders, Joaquin Sapien, Mollie Simon, Moiz Syed, Lucas Waldron and Derek Willis "The NYPD Files" ProPublica (with contributing reporting from The City)
2020 Kyle Hopkins "Lawless" Anchorage Daily News
2019 Gary Harki "Jailed in Crisis" The Virginian-Pilot
2018 Topher Sanders and Ben Conarck "Walking While Black" ProPublica, Florida Times Union
2017 Jennifer Bjorhus and Kelly Smith and the investigative team "A Cry for Help" Minneapolis Star Tribune
2016 Ken Armstrong, T. Christian Miller An Unbelievable Story of Rape The Marshall Project, ProPublica
2015 Brad Heath “Fugitives Next Door” USA TODAY
2014 Reporter Megan O’Matz and Database Editor John Maines “Cops, Cash, Cocaine” South Florida Sun Sentinel
2013 Ryan Gabrielson “Broken Shield” Center for Investigative Reporting’s California Watch
2012 Gina Barton “Both Sides of the Law” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
2011 Cris Barrish   The News Journal
2010 Mark Puente   The Plain Dealer
2009 Karyn Spencer   Omaha World-Herald
2008 Jonathan Schuppe   The Newark Star-Ledger
2007 Robert Rogers   The Sun
2006 John Diedrich   Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Related Stories
2005 Amber Hunt Martin   Detroit Free Press
2004 Del Quentin Wilber   Baltimore Sun
2003 Stacy Finz   San Francisco Chronicle
2002 Stephanie Warsmith   Akron Beacon Journal
2001 Brigid O’Malley   Naples Daily News
2000 Tom Searls   Charleston Gazette
1999 Sean Gardiner   The Florida Times-Union.
1998 Mark Truby   The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
1997 Andy Furillo   The Sacramento Bee
1996 Pamela Hill   Northwest Arkansas Times
1995 Melvin Claxton   Virgin Islands Daily News
1994 William Hermann   The Arizona Republic
1993 J.D. Mullane   Bucks County Courier Times
1992 Scott Bowles   The Detroit News
1991 Diana K. Sugg   The Sacramento Bee