Columbia Journalism School
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  • Alissa Rubin looks at an ambulance that has been shot up in Sadr City in 2008. Photo: Michael Kamber
  • Alissa Rubin reporting in Najaf, Iraq, in 2007. Photo: Michael Kamber
  • Alissa Rubin in Iraq in 2008. Photo: Michael Kamber
  • Rubinbullets
  • Alissa Rubin looks at an ambulance that has been shot up in Sadr City in 2008. Photo: Michael Kamber

2015 John Chancellor Award Winner


Alissa J. Rubin, Paris bureau chief for The New York Times who has spent much of her remarkable 35 year-long reporting career covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, is the recipient of the 2015 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. Rubin was selected in recognition of her courageous frontline reporting, her leadership and her determination to bear witness to the forces that shape our world.

The John Chancellor Award is presented each year to a reporter for his or her cumulative accomplishments. The prize honors the legacy of pioneering television correspondent and longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor. Selected by an eight-member committee, Rubin receives the 2015 award with a $25,000 cash prize. The award will be presented at a dinner and ceremony at Columbia University’s Low Library in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

Both quietly courageous and fiercely intellectual, Rubin covers conflict through human stories of the soldiers, victims and survivors of war. Her work is marked by a deep understanding of the Middle East and its people, from besieged Yazidis and female Iraqi insurgents, to Afghan women struggling to gain their rights.

While covering the Yazidi refugee crisis in Northern Iraq in August 2014, Rubin was in a helicopter that crashed when evacuating refugees and delivering aid. Rubin suffered a concussion and broken wrists. During her recuperation, she underwent multiple surgeries and long-term physical therapy. Now recovered, she is already back reporting from the region.

Rubin began her work as a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in 1997. She covered Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and rose to numerous positions including Baghdad correspondent, Baghdad bureau co-chief, Vienna bureau chief, and Paris bureau chief.

In 2007, Rubin joined The New York Times as Baghdad bureau correspondent and went on to become the Baghdad bureau chief, a position she held until July 2009. She then led the Afghanistan bureau from 2009 until 2014. As bureau chief, she skillfully managed and mentored a diverse group of reporters and local staff. Rubin also instituted planning and security procedures.

Previously, Rubin served as a staff writer for The Congressional Quarterly from 1991-1997. From 1986 to 1990, Rubin was a staff writer at The Wichita Eagle of Kansas covering agriculture, business, and local and state government. She was also a staff reporter for The American Lawyer magazine.

Rubin was the recipient of the 2009 Overseas Press Club’s Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine reporting for “How Baida Wanted to Die.”  She was recognized with the Los Angeles Times Editor’s Prize in 2003.

Rubin is a graduate of Brown University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received an M.A. degree in history from Columbia University with a concentration on modern Europe. Rubin lives in Paris with her husband, James, an attorney.

Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson will lead a conversation with Rubin at Columbia Journalism School on Thurs., November 19.

The John Chancellor Award was established in 1995 by Ira A. Lipman, founder of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world's largest security service firms. The jury is chaired by Lynn Sherr, and in addition to Lipman includes former Dean Nicholas Lemann, Hank Klibanoff, Michele Norris, Bill Wheatley, and Mark Whitaker, as well as John Chancellor’s daughter Mary Chancellor.

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Reporting by Alissa J. Rubin

Afghan Policewomen Struggle Against Culture March 1, 2015: In a clash between Western ideals and Afghan realities, an effort to elevate the status of women by recruiting them to the police force has often backfired. 

On a Helicopter, Going Down: Inside a Lethal Crash in Iraq August 16, 2014: Rubin’s account of a rescue mission’s harrowing end.

 “Afghan Rape Case Turns Focus on Local Police June 27, 2012: An Afghan family took the rare step of going public with accusations of abduction and rape of their daughter.

How Baida Wanted to Die August 12, 2009: An Encounter in Iraq with a (would-be) female suicide bomber.

In a Cold Room, Memories of a Life of Flowers August 26, 2005: An intimate profile of an Iraqi man who used to tend the garden at a Baghdad hospital, but shortly after the start of the war in 2003 he was assigned to tend the dead.

Past winners include New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer and NPR host Robert Siegel.  For a full list of previous honorees, see our Past Winners page.

Contact Information

Caroline Martinet, Program Manager, John Chancellor Award
Columbia University Journalism School
2950 Broadway MC3805
New York, NY 10027
Ph: 212-854-6468
Fax: 212-854-3148

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