Dan Balz, chief correspondent of The Washington Post and for decades one of the leading chroniclers of American politics, was awarded the prestigious Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting on Monday night.
Honored for a portfolio of work written in 2014, editors credited him for “deep and revealing” work that embodies the “classics of the Balz genre: he applied a lifetime of political perspective to tell the story of modern politics through a handful of key figures.”
Balz was cited for several deeply reported stories, including a look at how Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) sought to exercise old-school, consensus-style politics in a sharply divided Senate; an intimate portrait of former Republican presidential candidate Robert J. Dole’s farewell tour of his native Kansas; and a report on how rising populism in the Democratic Party might affect the presidential campaign of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton was the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“Dan’s ability to step into a political moment and make sense of it is unparalleled,” said Steven Ginsberg, The Post’s senior political editor. “That’s what he did with his winning pieces — he drew on a lifetime of knowledge and perspective to tell the story of modern politics through the actions of individual politicians.”
In his remarks, Balz told colleagues that campaign coverage “is not just about who is up today or down tomorrow or chasing shiny objects or being clever on Twitter. It’s about much bigger things.”
“It’s about what an election says about the changes and forces at work across the country, about the hopes and dreams of voters rather than the ambitions of the candidates,” he said, according to his prepared remarks.
This is the second consecutive year that The Washington Post has won the Toner Prize; national political correspondent Karen Tumulty was given the award last year.
The prize is named for Robin Toner, who was the first woman named national political reporter for the New York Times and who died of colon cancer in 2008. The award is sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where Toner was an active alumna.
Balz was named chief correspondent in May 2011. He joined The Post in May 1978 and has served as a national political correspondent, national editor, White House correspondent and Texas-based Southwest correspondent. He also co-authored two political bestsellers, “The Battle for America 2008,” written with the late Haynes Johnson, and “Collision 2012,” which recapped President Obama’s divisive campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.