The David Robb Civil Justice Award

The Los Angeles Press Club is pleased to announce a new award named after the late investigative reporter David Robb, who covered Hollywood for 40+ years. The stories Robb investigated and reported on changed the entertainment industry for the better.

David Robb worked tirelessly to expose injustices, prejudices and corruption inside the entertainment industry. He wrote stories that shined a light on pedophiles working with children, the long work hours imposed on children, and the fact that blacklisted writers of the 1950s still had not received their writing credits. He investigated and exposed injustices done to those living with disabilities, interns who were forced to work without pay, stuntwomen who were not protected, Native Americans, Black and other minorities who ran up against prejudice, as well as women and older writers who stood against ageism. He also raised the profile of the good works of the Motion Picture Television Fund, so the infirmed and retired entertainment industry employees would be certain of a secure future.

“At the 10th anniversary of Sarah Jones’ tragic on-set death, I’m reminded of David Robb’s critical reporting of my daughter’s senseless loss of life,” said Sarah Jones’ father, Richard Jones. “His reporting assisted in exposing the negligence of those in charge of the ‘Midnight Rider’ movie production and helped in their convictions. It is imperative that we hold those individuals responsible for the lives of the cast and crew fully accountable, which requires news stories that expose such bad behaviors.”

Robb served as the chief labor, legal and investigative reporter at Variety, as well as for The Hollywood Reporter. He was nominated for three Pulitzer Prizes and was the recipient of an NAACP Image Award for his coverage of African Americans in the entertainment industry. He was also honored by WGA for his work that restored the writing credits to blacklisted writers.

“David Robb was a journalist who went above and beyond in reporting truthful and meaningful stories. He took great pride in revealing the truth and making sure the readers understood what was happening behind the scenes in the TV and Film industries,” said Joyce Gilliard, who has been advocating for set safety through her iSafe organization. “He and I spoke many times about the tragedy. When I was injured and Sarah Jones tragically lost her life, he made me feel comfortable to speak freely and openly about my experience. He only reported what I felt comfortable with and never made adjustments to the stories for clicks. There is no one as deserving as David Robb for the Civil Justice Award in Journalism.”

The David Robb Civil Justice Award is given to a reporter who embodies the same sense of civil and moral justice — a journalist with high personal journalistic integrity, professionalism and standards who brings serious issues to the forefront.

“I have recently learned that drugs are, yet again, a problem in the stunt community, and if Dave Robb was alive, he would be covering it now,” said Julie Ann Johnson, the stunt industry whistleblower who co-authored the book “The Stuntwoman” with Robb, which is being developed as a movie with Golda’s director Guy Nattiv and exec producer Jaime Ray Newman. “I know Dave would be asking questions, perhaps about whether mandatory, random on-set drug testing should be implemented to ensure the safety of others. This is the kind of reporting that is vital and necessary to our industry.”

These Civil Justice stories do not publish easily. A journalist must be tenacious enough to push it through an intense vetting by their own media outlet. Stories must be impeccable, sourced with documentation, strong enough to go through a bevy of questions from layers of editors. But the reporter who enters this field of reporting is a different breed because they also must be confident enough to handle attorney questions with measured but firm responses, often negotiating with multiple lawyers to get the stories published, sometimes one word at a time.

The David Robb Civil Justice Award is bestowed upon a journalist who continues to shine a light to right the wrongs and initiate positive change in the entertainment industry.

The recipient of this award has shown that their series of stories or body of work on the entertainment world continues this important legacy of civil justice reporting.

The first David Robb Civil Justice Award will be presented at the National A&E Journalism Awards Gala on December 1, 2024. The award, initiated by Robb’s friend Anita Busch, comes with a $5,000 prize. It will be awarded annually.

The award application process is open to any journalist at any media outlet across the country.

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