The White House Correspondents’ Association this week announced the winners of its annual journalism awards and the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson was among them.
Johnson, the Blade’s White House reporter, won honorable mention for the Merriman Smith Award for print, which honors presidential news coverage under deadline pressure. Josh Dawsey of Politico won the award.
“Chris Johnson was the first to report that President Donald Trump had fired all the members of his AIDS advisory committee,” the award committee said in a statement. “Despite the fact that the firings occurred a few days after Christmas, Johnson was able to track down sources to confirm the story on the record. Other media outlets quickly picked up the story, crediting Johnson’s reporting. His quick deadline story was crisply written and provided extensive detail and background.”
Johnson finds himself in esteemed company. Other awards announced this week included the Aldo Beckman Award to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times; the Merriman Smith Award for broadcast to Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein of CNN; and the Edgar A. Poe Award to a team from Reuters for the report, “Shock Tactics.”
“I’m so grateful the White House Correspondents’ Association has recognized our ongoing coverage of the Trump administration, especially as many of its policies have had a negative impact on LGBT people,” Johnson said.
The award comes as the Blade and other outlets that have criticized Trump — including April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks — have complained about not being called on in the briefing room.
“Although the White House often fails to recognize our community by refusing to call on the Blade during briefings, the Blade’s presence as the sole LGBT media outlet in the White House press corps is important because we can stay on top of Trump policies affecting LGBT people and symbolically represent the voice of our community at the center of the U.S. government,” Johnson said.
Blade editor Kevin Naff echoed those sentiments.
“Congratulations to Chris on this richly deserved honor,” he said. “Chris works tirelessly under frustrating conditions to cover this administration and its recurring attacks on our community. It’s important that he’s in the room and this honor from the White House Correspondents’ Association validates the Blade’s commitment to aggressive coverage of the administration.”