The Carey McWilliams Award is given annually to honor a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics. It carries a $750 prize. Eligible candidates must meet the criteria laid forth by the first organizing committee. The individual chosen:
- should have a distinguished public service career in newspaper, magazine or broadcast media.
- should, in his or her work, illumine some broad general principles of the social and political sciences.
- may have a background in editorial activities and not necessarily be a working journalist or writer.
- should illumine certain key elements identified with McWilliams, which include intellectual forthrightness and political independence.