The Gene Burd Awards for Excellence in Urban Journalism and Outstanding Research in Urban Journalism Studies

The Gene Burd Awards for Excellence in Urban Journalism and Outstanding Research in Urban Journalism Studies

Presented jointly by the Urban Communication Foundation and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication



The Gene Burd Awards for Excellence in Urban Journalism and for the Outstanding Research in Urban Journalism Studies are named after Gene Burd, Professor of Journalism at the University of Texas, who endowed the Urban Communication Foundation who gives these awards for the purposes stated below.


The Gene Burd Award for Excellence in Urban Journalism

The purpose of the Urban Journalism Award is to reward and thereby improve the practice and study of journalism in the urban environment by recognizing high quality urban media reporting, critical analysis, and research relevant to that content and its communication about city problems, programs, policies, and public priorities in urban life and culture. 

Awards are for individuals with a distinguished record of accomplished works in urban journalism.

The award especially encourages work on a variety of media platforms, and on topics that illuminate problems and solutions of people in an economically diverse, multi-cultural society.

The Gene Burd Award for Research in Urban Journalism Studies

The purpose of this annual prize, a grant to conduct research in Urban Journalism Studies, is to stimulate research that explains, enlightens, inspires, and improves the practice and study of journalism and communication, in order to advance our understanding of journalism in urban environments. The winning research proposal should seek to reveal new insights and reinforce AEJMC’s mission “to encourage the widest possible range of communication research . . .  in an effort to achieve better professional practice, a better informed public, and wider human understanding.”


  • The dollar amount of each prize is determined on a yearly basis by the selection committee. The minimum levels will be $5,000 for the Urban Journalism award and $2,500 for the Outstanding Research award.
  • The award funds are managed and disbursed by the Urban Communication Foundation.


For the Urban Journalism Award

  1. Candidates must submit, or have submitted on their behalf, a nomination packet, which includes the following.
  2. A letter of nomination for the nominee.
  3. Two letters of support.
  4. A copy of the nominee’s current vita/resume,.
  5. Four additional supporting materials (e.g., reprints of articles or other media productions and additional letters of endorsement, or other appropriate information).   
  6. To begin the process, submissions must be sent to the executive director of AEJMC.
  7. Nomination packets must be submitted by April 15 of the year in which the award will be made.
  8. Submissions must be made electronically, in the form of e-mail and attachments. 

For the Outstanding Research Award

  1.  This research grant may be awarded to a faculty member, a graduate student, or a team of faculty member(s) and/or graduate student(s).
  2. The recipient(s) of the grant will present preliminary research findings and analysis during the session sponsored by the Urban Communication Foundation at the annual AEJMC conference.
  3. The award is open to a diversity of methods and topics within journalism and communication studies.
  4. Candidates must submit a proposal of no more than 1,500 words, by Oct. 1 in the year before the AEJMC conference in which the findings would be presented. Submissions must be made electronically, in the form of e-mail and attachments, to the executive director of AEJMC.
  5. The proposal must include these elements:
  6. Explanation of the topic and statement of research questions.
  7. Statement of the principal activities of the project, including a description of the research method and plan for analysis.
  8. Statement on the importance of the project: How it will contribute to the body of knowledge on urban journalism and communication.
  9. Statement of the project’s anticipated outcomes, e.g. What article(s) will be produced?
  10. A budget outlining the main categories of spending.
  11. A timeline by which the data gathering and analysis will be completed.
  12. In addition, each submission must be accompanied by a letter of support from the applicant’s academic supervisor (e.g. chair, thesis advisor, etc.)


  1. Both award decisions will be made by the Burd Awards Selection Committee.
  2. The committee will be composed of one member of the Board of Directors of the Urban Communication Foundation or designee, and two members of AEJMC, appointed by the presidents of each organization.
  3. The committee members will serve staggered, three-year terms, so that no more than one member must be replaced in any given year.
  4. The committee will be convened by the executive director of AEJMC, for its two principal tasks:
  5. To select the recipient of the Urban Journalism Award, the committee will meet after April 15 each year, for as many telephone or digital meetings as are needed for the selection of the two award recipients. The selection will be announced on or before June 15.
  6. To select the recipient of the research grant, the committee will meet, for as many digital or telephone meetings as are necessary, beginning Oct. 15 of each year. The selection will be announced on or before Dec. 15.
  7. In the case of the Outstanding Research Award, two-thirds of the grant will be disbursed immediately upon the Selection Committee’s decision.  The remaining one-third of the grant will be disbursed upon the committee’s receipt of a report of the scholars’ preliminary findings, on or before May 1 of the year in which the recipient(s) will present the research report at the AEJMC conference.
  8. The Selection Committee reserves the right not to give an award (in either category) in any given year.
  9. Each organization’s board of directors will devise and implement a publicity strategy to ensure a wide array of entries for each award, in the summer and winter before each year’s deadline.
  10. The awards will be presented during the annual conference of the AEJMC, usually held in early August.


2017 Winner of the Gene Burd Outstanding Dissertation in Journalism Studies Award

After extensive review the committee voted to award the prize to Rachel Reis Mourão for her dissertation entitled “From Mass to Elite Protests: How Journalists Covered the 2013 and 2015 Demonstrations in Brazil.” The reviewers found the dissertation to be sophisticated and nuanced in its analysis of the changing journalism landscape. Dr. Mourão’s work was supervised by Stephen D. Reese at the The University of Texas at Austin.

Her dissertation uses a media sociology approach to untangle how multiple influences shaped journalistic coverage of two waves of protests in Brazil. In 2013, small demonstrations against bus fares evolved into a series of large protests expressing generalized dissatisfaction with conditions in the country. Following the reelection of center-leftist Dilma Rousseff, another wave of protests returned in 2015, this time with a clear agenda: the removal of the President. Communication research has long examined the “protest paradigm,” a pattern of news coverage that legitimized social movements. The study departs from an understanding of protest coverage as paradigmatic towards a more complex view of the relationship between protesters and the press. The analysis helps elucidate the conditions under which the protest paradigm fails and how favorable coverage can occur. The experience of Brazil shows that when an elite opposition supports protests, journalistic norms and routines validate demonstrations, regardless of journalists’ own attitudes.

Honorable Mention: Dr. Rodrigo Zamith

The runner up for the prize was Dr. Rodrigo Zamith for his dissertation entitled “Editorial Judgment in an Age of Data: How Audience Analytics and Metrics are Influencing the Placement of News Products,” which was a theoretically sophisticated exploration of the extent to which audience analytics—i.e., digital metrics that track the preferences of users based on click behaviors—appear to affect news content.