WASHINGTON — Defense News’ naval warfare reporter has been selected to receive a prestigious defense journalism award for her coverage of everything from U.S. shipyard modernization to the Ukrainian navy’s effort to rebuild and prepare for its war against Russia.

Megan Eckstein will be awarded the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation’s Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, the foundation announced Tuesday.

“I’m deeply honored that the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation has recognized my work in this way,” Eckstein said. “Defense News has afforded me a string of excellent reporting opportunities over the past year, and I’ve worked hard to make the most of them and bring back the best stories and context for my readers. I look forward to continuing to explain the Navy and Marine Corps’ story to the public.”

In Tuesday’s release announcing the award, the Ford Foundation praised Eckstein for her “insightful reporting [that] reveals a keen analytic sense for the early identification of soon-to-emerge issues.

“Eckstein’s extensive sourcing and research, sharpened by her desire to be on the scene, is a sterling example of reportorial values and excellence that the Gerald R. Ford Foundation seeks to recognize and reward,” the foundation said.

For one of Eckstein’s stories, “Tension on the Black Sea: What great power competition looks like from the deckplates,” she traveled to the U.S. Navy destroyer Ross in the Black Sea in July 2021 to observe live-fire drills carried out with their Ukrainian counterparts. Her gripping report describes the tense scene with four Russian warships lurking nearby, and the confrontation that ensued when one Russian ship contacted the Ross and demanded it leave.

She followed it up with a visit to Odesa, Ukraine, for a deeply detailed report on how Ukraine sought to rebuild its navy after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, in which it also seized 75% of Ukraine’s fleet.

And last November, Eckstein visited the 222-year-old Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine and wrote about the innovative practices it adopted that are paving the way for the Navy to modernize how it repairs ships.

“Megan takes readers with her when she travels,” Defense News editor Marjorie Censer wrote in her letter nominating Eckstein for the award. “In 2021, she went to Ukraine, Maine and Florida, among other trips, and used her visits to illuminate and illustrate her pieces. She doesn’t get bogged down in defense policy and acquisition; she uses the people, sights and sounds of an experience to better tell the story.”

Matt Viser, the White House reporter for the Washington Post, also was honored by the Ford Foundation for distinguished reporting on the presidency.

Defense News previously won the foundation’s national defense award in 1989 and 1998. Andrew deGrandpre, a former senior editor for sister publication Military Times who is now at the Washington Post, received the prize in 2015. DeGrandpre’s investigative series “Task Force Violent: The unforgiven” exposed how elite Marines were wrongfully accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and cleared their names.

Eckstein is a University of Maryland graduate who has covered military news since 2009. She began writing for Defense News in May 2021, and was previously deputy editor for USNI News. In 2022, she was part of a select group of defense reporters chosen to participate in the Defense Journalism Seminar Series put on by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

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