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Journalist Dan Fagin Wins the 2014 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence In Journalism For "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation"


Jim Hoge and Tony Marx present journalist Dan Fagin with the 2014 Bernstein Award
Jim Hoge and Tony Marx present journalist Dan Fagin with the 2014 Bernstein Award        Credit: Sean Scanlin

MAY 29 – Renowned journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Fagin received The New York Public Library’s 2014 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism at a ceremony and reception last night at the Library’s landmark building.

Fagin, a former staff writer for Newsday and a science journalism professor at New York University, won the prestigious award for his groundbreaking work Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, which investigates childhood cancer clusters caused by toxic dumping and industrial pollution in a New Jersey town, and has already won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

The award – which since 1988 has been given to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies – comes with a $15,000 prize.

"I'm very grateful to Helen Bernstein and her family, and to the wonderful people at the New York Public Library for this recognition,” said Fagin. “It's truly humbling to be in the company of so many past Bernstein winners whose work I deeply admire, and also to be mentioned in the same sentence with my fellow finalists, all of whom have done extraordinary work under the most trying possible conditions. In spotlighting the deep reporting that so many of us are still trying to do, the Bernstein family and the New York Public Library are providing a crucial boost for long form nonfiction at a time when it is increasingly difficult to undertake, yet more crucial than ever to the future of our democracy. Thank you."

Toms River was one of five finalists selected by an eight-member Library Review Committee, which received and read over 100 nominations from publishers. The winner was chosen by a separate Bernstein Selection Committee, chaired by Jim Hoge, an accomplished journalist and former editor of Foreign Affairs. The other finalists were:

Fagin, Fink, Kaplan and Katz attended the awards ceremony, which took place at the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The guest speaker at the ceremony was journalist and Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll. The night before, all five finalists participated in a panel on the current state of long form journalism, also held at 42nd Street.

“Dan Fagin epitomizes what the Bernstein Award is all about – powerful, in-depth reporting that informs the public, shapes policy, and changes the world,” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “We are honored to recognize him and all of this year’s finalists, journalists of the highest caliber whose hard work and dedication to the truth are essential to a great democracy.”

The Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism was established through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein, in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein (now Helen Bernstein Fealy).


Contact: Angela Montefinise |


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