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The University of Hawaiʻi Journalism Program's long-standing emphasis on ethics and responsibility in journalism was strengthened by a gift of $100,000 from actress Carol Burnett.

Income from the $100,000 endowment, which was received in summer 1981, has been used “to support teaching and research designed to further high standards of ethics and professionalism in journalism, and for awards to outstanding students who have demonstrated a strong sense of journalistic responsibility and integrity.”



In 1982, Carol Burnett sued the tabloid newspaper National Enquirer for libel after the Enquirer described her alleged public drunkenness, purportedly with Henry Kissinger. Burnett was particularly sensitive to the accusations because of her parents’ alcoholism. The case, Carol Burnett v. National Enquirer, Inc., was a landmark for libel cases involving celebrities, although the unprecedented $1.6 million verdict for Burnett was reduced to about $800,000 on appeal. She donated a portion of that award to the University of Hawaiʻi and University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, saying she hoped the suit would teach aspiring journalists the dangers of defaming individuals in articles. Burnett said at the time that she didn't care if she just won “cab fare,” and that the lawsuit was a matter of principle.

Photo courtesy Carol Burnett


Carol Burnett/UH/AEJMC National Student Competition

In the belief that journalism students throughout the country should be encouraged to think and write about ethical problems, the UH Journalism Department in 1984-85 joined the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in establishing a national competition for the best articles or research papers on ethical issues in journalism or public relations. The annual Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii/AEJMC Prizes are given at the annual AEJMC convention for the best student research paper selected for presentation by the Media Ethics Division. 

First and Second Place prizes are awarded to students writing about ethical issues.

Entries are to be research papers or articles intended for professional publications, and are to be focused on ethical issues in journalism and mass communication (including advertising, broadcast/cable news and public relations, but not to include entertainment programming).

The annual Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii/AEJMC Prizes — one for the best paper by a graduate student and another for the best paper by an undergraduate — are presented at the annual AEJMC convention. The winning entries are also published in full or abstract in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, whose editorial board serves as competition judges. The competition, open to all university-level journalism students, is administered by the UH Journalism Department, which is now the Journalism Program in the School of Communications.

See the AEJMC web site for the annual Call for Papers and deadlines for submission.



First Place: FENG Yayu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Learning from Confucius: Moral self-cultivation (xiuji) and its application in media ethics education

Second Place: Michael Davis, University of Iowa

Journalism as a Calling: Linking Social Identity and Institutional Theory to Protect the Profession


First Place: Joseph Jones, University of Missouri

Why should we care about care? The potential for feminist moral, environmental, and political philosophy in journalism ethics


Second Place: FENG Yayu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Inside the Ivory Tower: How do Student Reporters Reason about Ethics (pictured at right).


First place: FENG Yayu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Spotlight: Virtuous Journalism in Practice (pictured with Tom Ryan, Media Ethics Division president, AEJMC.)

Runner up: YANG Shiyi: An Emotional Approach to Risk Communication

Marquette University (pictured at right)



First place: Christina Childs DeWalt, University of Oklahoma

“Framing Ferguson: Duty-Based Ethical Discourse in the Editorial Pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch”

Runner up: Matt Bird-Meyer

"Information policy as a force at the gate: A case of online-only journalists and how organizational policies affect their news work"


Christina Childs DeWalt, University of Oklahoma

“Moderating Marius: Ethical Language and Representation of Animal Advocacy in Mass Media Coverage of the Copenhagen Zoo Saga”

Runner-up: FENG Yayu

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa winners
2019; Chavonnie Ramos (right)
2018 Nicole Tam (Left)
2017 Kimberlee Speakman, Wesley Babcok
2016 Brad Dell
2015 Noelle Fujii
2014 Jessica Homrich
2013 Mark Arakaki, Davin Aoyagi, Alex Bitter, Paige Takeya,
          Kaitlyn Kelly,

Jones and Feng

Christina Childs DeWalt
Chavonnie Ramos.jpg
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