James Newton Receives the 2022 Carey McWilliams Award

The Carey McWilliams Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor major journalistic contributions to society’s understanding of politics.  

Jim Newton is a veteran journalist, author and teacher.   Newton is the recipient of numerous national and local awards in journalism. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.  His senior thesis, on the effects of network television coverage on political perceptions, was awarded Dartmouth’s Pressman Prize, and a version of it was published in Polity: The Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association in the winter of 1987.  Newton moved to UCLA full-time in early 2015 to teach in Communication Studies and Public Policy and to found Blueprint, a magazine which has been recognized for editorial and design excellence, and he serves as its editor-in-chief.

Citation from the Award Committee: 

The committee is pleased to present the 2022 Carey McWilliams Award to James Newton. Newton is currently a continuing lecturer in Communication and Public Policy as well as senior consulting editor with UCLA Magazine at the University of California Los Angeles. His professional journalism career began with positions at The New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Most recently, he worked for the Los Angeles Times where he served in the roles of reporter, editor, bureau chief, department head, editorial page editor, and columnist. His work with the LA Times also featured important coverage of local and national politics, including overseeing the editorial board’s “American Values and the Next President” series during the 2008 presidential race.  Since leaving the LA Times in 2014, Newton has devoted his efforts to serving as editor-in-chief of Blueprint, a semi-annual journal, in print and online, that integrates academic research in examining the policy challenges facing California and Los Angeles.  He also teaches courses on journalism and ethics as well as a writing seminar for journalism students to learn to write on deadline.  The author of four books on a bipartisan set of political figures, Newton notes that it is his work on former California Governor and Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren that “launched me on a career as a book writer.”

Newton has made many significant contributions to our understanding of politics and public policy. One of the letters recommending Newton called him a “potent and graceful practitioner” of “The Journalism of Illumination’’ – articles and books that take a reader deep into important subjects, regardless of whether they occurred yesterday or 75 years ago.”  Another described his writing as “incisive and balanced; smart and on target” leading to him being regarded as “one of the most influential and consequential  political journalists in the history of Southern California.”  The committee was particularly impressed with the breadth and depth of Newton’s work, including his work covering what one recommender called “the most salient political events and policy debates in Los Angeles over the last three decades,” and extending to his four thoughtful and well-researched books.

McWilliams was known for his intellectual forthrightness and political independence, characteristics shared by Newton.  One of Newton’s recommenders noted that “Jim did a spectacular job of covering the federal trial [of the Los Angeles Police Department officers who beat Rodney King] and near the conclusion, U.S. District Judge John Davies did something I had never seen in years of covering trials and have not since.  On the record, the judge praised Jim’s work in open court: ‘I want to compliment you.  From the fashion in which you have reported this case, I think you have been honorable, you have been accurate, and you have reported the issues with great skill. I wish they were all that way.’”  Yet another wrote that Newton “demands fair, balanced and ethical reporting.” The committee is pleased to honor James Newton with the 2022 Carey McWilliams Award.


APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Natalie Jomini Stroud (chair) of the University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Tim Groeling of University of California-Los Angeles, and Dr. Joshua M. Scacco of University of South Florida.

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