John Noble Wilford— 2009 Outstanding Public Service Award

Award Citation:

For more than three decades, John Noble Wilford’s engaging and accurate reporting on new archaeological finds and research has contributed to the general public’s understanding of the science and excitement of archaeology. As senior science writer and editor at the New York Times, Wilford has contributed more than 500 articles on archaeological subjects. His archaeological stories span the globe, from “Scientists Use Radar to Chart Cambodia's Ancient Ruins” (13 February 1998) to “Ancient Indian Site Challenges Ideas on Early American Life” (19 September 1997). In recent years, he has written on the impact of modern war on ancient artifacts, bringing to public attention the looting of the Baghdad Museum. 

In addition to writing countless newspaper articles since beginning his career in 1956 at the Wall Street Journal, Wilford has authored eight books, including The Mapmakers (London 1981), The Riddle of the Dinosaur (New York 1985), and The Mysterious History of Columbus (New York 1991). He has received two Pulitzer Prizes for his newspaper writing. 

In 2003, Wilford had this advice for aspiring science writers: “Knowledge of science is of no value if one cannot express and explain in clear English and in an arresting style.” John Noble Wilford’s own career shows that he has put this advice into masterful practice and thus makes him a worthy recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2009 Outstanding Public Service Award.

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