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Tarana Burke, Bustle, Refinery29, Essence, Vogue Among Planned Parenthood’s 2018 MEA Winners
Sasheer Zamata, actress and comedian, served as host
For more photos of the event, please contact Planned Parenthood’s media office

New York, NY — Last night, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of New York City presented the 2018 Media Excellence Awards to journalists, activists, and media outlets for their exceptional coverage of reproductive rights, social justice, and women’s health care issues.

“At a time when hard-working members of the media have been facing constant attacks from this administration, we are thrilled to honor this select group of fearless journalists and activists for their consistently honest, brave, and accurate reporting on sexual and reproductive health,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The stories they told over the past year are more important than ever. They have empowered, educated, and amplified the voices of those who need to be heard — stories of women, communities of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. We are proud to honor them for their incredible work.”

“In these extraordinary times, we are pleased to honor remarkable journalists who have pushed incredibly hard to report accurately on sexual and reproductive health and rights and tell important stories of the communities that have been deeply impacted by the current political environment,” said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “Our honorees embraced their power to change long-standing narratives that have been harmful to so many for so long. Their work helped make real change in our communities. We are honored to celebrate them and grateful for their work.”

This year’s Media Excellence Award winners covered a range of topics, including abortion stigma, barriers faced by young immigrant women needing an abortion, access to health care for transgender people, and women’s reproductive rights here and abroad.

The highest honor of the evening went to Tarana Burke, social activist and founder of the “Me Too” social movement and senior director at Girls for Gender Equity, in recognition of her groundbreaking work. The “Me Too” social movement sparked a conversation around sexual assault more than 10 years ago, and it has played an important role in today’s conversations around sexual assault and harassment.

"I'm beyond humbled and grateful that Planned Parenthood would acknowledge me and my work in this way," Burke said. "I've never really considered myself a media maker, but I am and will always be someone who is committed to using the power of storytelling to humanize and give voice to those who have been silenced. That's part of what makes both Planned Parenthood and 'me too,' so special...the fact that the work intentionally centers the voices and needs of those who so often go unheard and unseen. This award means a great deal to me, and it's an honor to accept it tonight amongst my esteemed colleagues, friends, and supporters."  

The 2018 Media Excellence Award winners are:

  • Bustle: For Bustle’s exceptional coverage of reproductive and sexual health throughout this year. Since its inception, Bustle has consistently provided accurate, compelling, and non-stigmatizing coverage of reproductive and sexual health issues as well as the broader reproductive health, rights, and justice movement.
  • Refinery29: For Refinery29’s insightful and compelling coverage on issues ranging from the continued attacks on reproductive rights to sexual assault and consent to restrictive state abortion laws.
  • Essence.com: For Essence.com’s powerful coverage of reproductive and sexual health this year including “The OverExplainer: This Is The Real Reason Women Need Access To Birth Control,” “A Matter Of Life & Death: Why Are Black Women In The U.S. More Likely To Die During Or After Childbirth?,” and “The Racial Politics of Abortion: A Short Film,” among many others.

  • Danielle Campoamor, Editor, Romper: For her heart-wrenching and thought-provoking piece, “I'm Miscarrying Right Now, & It's Only Strengthening My Beliefs About Abortion,” which appeared on Romper.

  • Tina Vasquez, Immigration Reporter, Rewire: For her exemplary and comprehensive coverage of the Jane Doe case for Rewire. The intersection of immigration and reproductive rights has never been more obvious than  in last fall’s Jane Doe case. She was just one of countless young, pregnant, unaccompanied, immigrant women in detention being held hostage by an administration bent on denying them their constitutional rights.

  • Francesca Fiorentini, Correspondent, National Geographic Explorer and Al Jazeera: For her piece “Jailed for a Miscarriage,” which appeared on National Geographic Explorer, illustrating the plight of women who have had miscarriages in El Salvador and its oppressive abortion laws.

  • Brad Kutner, Freelance Writer: For his piece, “Planned Parenthood’s transgender clinic offers easy, accessible healthcare for Richmond’s gender nonconforming community,” which appeared on GayRVA, highlighting  the non-judgemental care that our transgender and gender non-conforming patients receive at our Planned Parenthood health center in Richmond.

  • Lauren Evans, Gender/Politics/Travel Writer, Village Voice and Jezebel: For her piece, “New Law Hasn’t Stopped Anti-Abortion ‘Pregnancy Centers’ From Misleading Women,” which appeared in the Village Voice, exploring how crisis pregnancy centers spread misconceptions and misinformation about abortion spread by to deter women from making their own reproductive choices.

  • Vogue Magazine: For its unwavering commitment to reproductive health care and women’s rights, in a year in which they were under constant assault by Congress and the Trump administration. Among other pieces focused on women’s health and rights, the magazine published a powerful editor’s note from Anna Wintour in the July 2017 issue and an important profile highlighting Planned Parenthood patients, staff, and volunteers alongside president Cecile Richards.

The awards were hosted by comedian and actress, Sasheer Zamata, best known for her outstanding and hilarious performances as a member of the Saturday Night Live cast.

"Fighting for reproductive rights would be a lot easier if people were more open to talking about and getting educated on these issues. A lot of people get uncomfortable discussing sexual health and shut down when the topic is even broached,” Zamata said. “So when the subject is given more exposure in different media outlets, it gives people a chance to learn and gets us closer to a comprehensive discussion that pushes us toward healthier and more just outcomes."

In addition to the Media Excellence Awards, Planned Parenthood also highlighted several “Stories That Mattered in 2017.” These thoroughly reported, fact based, and scientifically accurate articles helped inform the public on critical public and reproductive health issues. In the wake of an increase in misleading and inflammatory commentary, Planned Parenthood believes it is important to uplift examples of quality reporting and professional journalism.   

2017 Stories That Mattered:

The Atlantic: What it Means to Defund Planned Parenthood by Elaine Godfrey

Fast Company: Planned Parenthood’s Digital Revolution Has 100-Year-Old Roots by Meg Miller

ProPublica and NPR: Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Nina Martin and Renee Montagne

Scientific American editorial: It’s Time to End the War on Women’s Health

Washington Post: Defunding Planned Parenthood Could Overwhelm Other Clinics, Leave Women with Few Options by Kim Soffen

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

Since 1916, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) has been an advocate for and provider of sexual and reproductive health services and education for New Yorkers. Providing more than 100,000 patient visits annually, PPNYC’s health care centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island offer sexual and reproductive health services, including gynecological care, birth control, cancer screening, pregnancy testing, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV prevention, testing and counseling, transgender hormone therapy and vasectomy. Through a threefold mission of clinical services, education, and advocacy, PPNYC brings better health and more fulfilling lives to each new generation of New Yorkers. As a voice for reproductive freedom, PPNYC supports legislation and policies to ensure that all New Yorkers will have access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information.