The Fund for American Studies to honor Lai Chee-ying 'Jimmy Lai' at 29th Annual Journalism Awards Dinner

Rago Fellow, Novak Fellows and leaders in journalism to also be honored


On Nov.  15, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) will host supporters, friends and leaders in the journalism community for the 29th annual TFAS Journalism Awards Dinner. The event, held at the Metropolitan Club in New York City, will celebrate the careers and accomplishments of outstanding journalists in TFAS’ Novak and Rago fellowship programs.

At the dinner, TFAS will be awarding Lai Chee-ying “Jimmy Lai” with the 2022 Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Courageous Journalism. Jimmy Lai is a Hong Kong entrepreneur and activist who has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by the Chinese government for his pro-democracy efforts and opposition to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Lai has been arrested repeatedly since 2020 for a variety of alleged crimes against the CCP; currently, he is being detained for organizing illegal protests. Amongst Lai’s entrepreneurial pursuits are founding Next Digital, a Hong Kong media company, and Giordano, an Asian clothing retailer.

Despite numerous attempts by the CCP to censor Lai, he founded, published and widely distributed a number of political publications aimed at sharing the truth and advocating for democracy, including Apple Daily, one of the top Hong Kong newspapers. Lai will be honored alongside William “Bill” McGurn, a lifelong reporter and current columnist with The Wall Street Journal.

“Rather than leave Hong Kong and abandon the brave people there who have been fighting for democracy and a rule of law, Jimmy Lai chose to stay and face the consequences for speaking the truth. This commitment at great personal cost, is an example for us all,” said Roger Ream, TFAS president. “He embodies the courageous leadership that TFAS strives to instill in its students and Fellows, and while we regret that his unjust imprisonment keeps him from coming to New York to accept in person, we are proud to recognize his invaluable work.”

In addition to honoring Jimmy Lai and Bill McGurn, TFAS will be formally announcing the seven participants in the 2022 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship at the Journalism Awards Dinner. Billy Binion of Reason, Jack Butler of National Review, John Hirschauer of The American Conservative, Madeleine Kearns of National Review, Kate Bachelder Odell of The Wall Street Journal, Brad Polumbo of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)and Joseph Simonson of The Washington Free Beacon will spend one year researching and providing in-depth reporting on a variety of topics pertaining to a free society. Themes to be covered by the 2022-23 cohort include the student debt crisis, the political shift of Hispanic voters and law enforcement misconduct, among others.

“Having long looked with admiration at TFAS and the work of prior Novak fellows, I find it an incredible honor to be placed among their ranks,” said Jack Butler, Novak Fellow 2022-2023. “That this honor comes with the resources to pursue a project of great importance to me and of significant potential consequence for the advancement of the principles of TFAS elevates my gratitude not just beyond words but nearly beyond adequate communication.”

The event also will honor Carine Hajjar, this year’s Joseph Rago Memorial Fellow for Excellence in Journalism. Named for Joseph Rago, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member who passed away in 2017, the Rago Fellowship awards a qualified aspiring journalist with a nine-month internship with The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Hajjar attended Harvard University, where she was a member of the Harvard Crimson’s editorial board and penned a column titled “Always at Odds” in which she shared her experience as a conservative student on Harvard’s campus. As the winner of Harvard’s Eliot House Finley Fellowship, Hajjar has recently spent a year traveling across Europe, studying faith and religion at historic convents and monasteries.

“In July, we commemorated five years since Joseph Rago’s life was cut short, reminding ourselves of the significance and profound impact of his work. During my time as the Rago Fellow, I hope to emulate the hard-hitting and witty writing style he so expertly used. I’m honored to be recognized alongside so many leaders in the journalism community, and I’m looking forward to learning from my colleagues on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial staff,” said Hajjar.

Accurate, insightful reporting is more critical now than ever before. TFAS is proud to be an organization that fosters leaders in journalism, many of whom carry on to be Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, editors of national outlets and authors of best-selling books, and TFAS is grateful for the opportunity to celebrate these inspirational future leaders. To join us in supporting the outstanding work of these individuals and TFAS journalism programs, please email Jane Mack at or visit


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