Elise Foley of the Huffington Post has received the American Immigration Lawyers Association 2013 journalism award. Because AILA is a leader in the fight against immigration law enforcement and for effectively unlimited admissions, Conn Carroll from the Examiner tweeted snarkily:
Getting an award from AILA for reporting on immigration is like getting an award from American Petroleum Institute on climate change— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) June 27, 2013
As much as I share Conn’s distaste for AILA (its former executive director was “Jihad Jeannie” Butterfield), Elise is a real reporter who covers the immigration beat, albeit with a point of view and for a journal of opinion. AILA is obviously going to acknowledge people and stories that shed light on aspects of the issue they want highlighted, but that doesn’t automatically devalue the recipient’s work.
After all, NR is also a journal of opinion, and its outstanding team of reporters is no less conscientious or fair because of that. Will AILA ever give its journalism award to, say, our Andrew Stiles or to NRO alum Byron York, who’s also done yeoman’s work in covering the Senate circus for the Examiner? No, probably not. But when you look at the list of earlier recipients of AILA’s award, you can see they’ve given it to a mix of mainstream reporters (Spencer Hsu, Hernan Rosemberg) and crusading advocates (Jason Riley, Anthony Lewis).
My own organization’s Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration — the instigation for AILA’s establishing its own award a few years after ours — isn’t too different. True, our honorees are much more likely to be straight reporters. Case in point: this year’s receipient, Bob Segall of WHTR-TV in Indianapolis. His investigative reporting exposed fraud and mismanagement at the IRS that had allowed illegal aliens to receive billions of dollars in improper tax credits and refunds. (Motto?: Investigating the stories the Northeast Corridor Media won’t investigate.)
But we’ve also recognized Heather Mac Donald, an intrepid reporter, to be sure, but one who writes for an opinion journal. And one year we gave the award to Lou Dobbs, back when he was hammering away at the issue night after night. (Unfortunately, we can’t take it back now.)
So while AILA would enhance the credibility of its award by focusing it more tightly on real reporters, as we try to do, rather than on political allies (Gary Trudeau?), Elise Foley deserves the recognition for her work as HuffPo’s immigration beat reporter. Congratulations.