Mike Toner was the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism.
Toner was born in 1944 in Le Mars, Iowa and grew up in north west and north central Iowa. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Toner graduated from Humboldt High School in Humboldt, Iowa in 1962. He received a B.A degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa in 1966 and a M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1967. He was a Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford University in 1973.
Toner worked as a photographer for The Daily Iowan from 1962 to 1966. He was a night desk editor for United Press International in Chicago in 1966. He was the Key West bureau chief for the Miami Herald in 1966 and served as a general assignment reporter, copy editor, assistant city editor and science/environment/aerospace reporter at the Herald from 1967 to 1984. He was the science editor for The Atlanta Journal Constitution from 1984 to 1991 and was a science writer for the newspaper there until he retired in 2004. He has since been a frequent contributor to American Archaeology magazine and Archaeology magazine.
His reporting is featured in William David Sloan's "Masterpieces of Reporting" (1997) and in the National Association of Science Writer's "A Field Guide for Science Writers" (1997).
In 1993 Toner won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for a series of articles about antibiotic and pesticide resistance. The 10-part series, 'When Bugs Fight Back,' was published by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in 1992. In 2001, Toner received the Gene S. Stuart Award from the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) for a two-year series of stories about archaeological looting and the international traffic in illicit antiquities. The series, "The Past in Peril" was published by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in 2000 and 2001. The articles were republished in book form by the National Park Service's Southeast Archaeological Center in 2002. The SAA awarded Toner a second Gene S. Stuart award in 2012 for an article in American Archaeology magazine, titled 'The Battle for the Dunkirk Schooner.’ The article was lauded by the SAA as "an ethically responsible and engaging view on the issues of antiquity ownership and the dangers of raising a shipwreck" that "brought an archaeological find and preservation issues to the attention of the public in a way all archaeologists can be proud of.".