Jillian Berman wins 2017 Birger Award

Jillian Berman, 28, a New York-based reporter for MarketWatch, is the 2017 winner of the Larry Birger Young Business Journalist contest, honoring journalists younger than 30.

It is the fourth year of the competition. The past winners were William Alden, Cezary Podkul and Mina Kimes.

Additionally this year, the judging panel chose to honor two finalists: Jen Wieczner of Fortune and Sarah Frier of Bloomberg News.

Made possible by a $7,500 gift from rbb Communications, the award commemorates Larry Birger, a former Miami Herald business editor who led SABEW as president in 1977. Birger was later a principal at rbb until his death in 1998. Josh Merkin, vice president of rbb Communications, will present the award to Berman at SABEW’s New York Fall Conference on Oct. 13.

“Journalism is a vital part of our democratic society and it gives us great pleasure to recognize the critical work being done by the next generation of reporters. There is no better way to honor Larry’s contributions than by supporting, respecting and appreciating the herculean efforts journalists make in telling the stories our society needs to hear.” Merkin said.

Berman is a reporter at MarketWatch, where she focuses on student debt. Previously, she worked as a business reporter for HuffPost, covering retail and food companies as well as gender politics at work. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Bloomberg.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in a field where many are doing such inspiring work and in particular for coverage of student debt, a topic that affects my peers and their families,” Berman said. “I’m especially grateful to my colleagues and editors at MarketWatch, who nurture my career and those of other young business reporters on a daily basis.”

The judges noted that just when it seemed every angle of the student-debt crisis had been covered, Berman had uncovered five more. She impressed them with her deep knowledge of her higher-education beat, with a specific focus on student debt.

A total of 29 journalists submitted entries. The judging team was made up of SABEW members Jon Chesto (chair), James T. Madore, Marty Steffens, Rick Rothacker and Cindy Perman.

“Jillian took a complex topic that we’ve all read a lot about — student debt — and continued to uncover new and interesting angles. She analyzed mountains of student-loan data, while finding the people affected by the issues in her stories and sharing their tales. The competition was tough this year, but the judges were uniformly impressed with her work,” said Chesto, a business reporter for The Boston Globe.

About SABEW:

SABEW is the largest organization of business journalists in the world. For more information, contact Crystal Beasley at

About rbb Communications:

rbb is an integrated communications firm and four-time U.S. Agency of the Year winner. For more information, visit

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