KPNX Phoenix; WFTS Tampa, Fla.; WLTX Columbia, S.C.; and WTSP Tampa, Fla., as well as WNET New York will be honored at the June 20, 2015, ceremony honoring “accurate and fair reporting about important issues that are powerfully told.”
Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism today announced 14 winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards.
Investigative journalism will win seven awards spread across network television, radio, online and at the local level, most often in overlapping platforms. Four awards will go to local television news investigations, including reporting by KPNX Phoenix; WFTS Tampa, Fla.; WLTX Columbia, S.C.; and WTSP Tampa, Fla.
Public broadcasting is also well represented, including Frontline from WGBH with two awards; an award for WNET New York’s six-part historical series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates; two duPonts for NPR; and locally, a silver baton for Minnesota Public Radio’s reporting on sexual abuse in the Twin Cities’ Catholic Church.
Innovative interactive digital entries from NPR and The Seattle Times will each receive an award. CNN’s WEED: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports, will also be awarded a duPont. Two feature-length documentaries will be honored with a duPont Award, including the first win for the Internet streaming service Netflix.
“The categories change. The technologies change. Ten years ago, who even knew what streaming was? Today a streaming service has won a duPont,” said Richard Wald, duPont jury chair and the Fred W. Friendly Professor of Media and Society at Columbia Journalism School. “But the jury was impressed that the essentials remain: tell a good story in the service of truth; tell something interesting and important; tell something that makes us wiser and better informed. Valuable journalism is alive and well.”
Outstanding local television investigative reporting will be honored with four duPont awards, including two for West Florida stations. As described in the awards announcement:
- WFTS Tampa uncovered greed and corruption in its searing report, Incapacitated: Florida’s Guardianship Program, which revealed lack of oversight in taking care of vulnerable senior citizens.
- WTSP 10 News, Tampa Bay’s investigation, Short Yellows and the Red Light Fight, exposed ways governments abused technology to cheat drivers.
- KPNX 12 News, Phoenix, took on the Phoenix Fire Department’s renowned arson squad, prompting changes in their staff and practices.
- WLTX-TV, Columbia’s investigation DSS: When The System Fails, examined the tragic death of a four year-old and serious flaws at the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
Previous winner Frontline will be honored again this year with two duPonts: one for United States of Secrets, the multi-part, comprehensive inside story of how the U.S. government collected vast quantities of Americans’ private information and then hid its actions; the other for Syria’s Second Front, which offers one of the first inside glimpses into ISIS through a groundbreaking, harrowing account of the factions fighting there.
The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, in partnership with Thirteen Productions LLC, Inkwell Films and Ark Media, is a six-part series that, the school said, “eloquently and artfully tells the epic story of African Americans, from the slave trade in Africa to the 16th presidency of the United States five centuries later.” The jury awarded a duPont for work that is “visually and narratively innovative and breaks the mold of the historical PBS documentary.”
Netflix, an emerging Internet force, will win its first duPont award for the feature documentary, Virunga, a powerful immersive film that explores the conflict between global politics and environmentalism.
CNN will receive a duPont for WEED: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports, two one-hour explorations of the complex debate over medical marijuana — yet another winner that stood out for parsing the science and politics of a divisive issue.
Cynthia McFadden, senior legal and investigative correspondent for NBC News, and NPR’s Michel Martin, will co-host the duPont Awards ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library. McFadden’s video announcement, more information about the winners and links to behind the scenes interviews can be seen here.
The 14 winning programs appeared on air, online or in theaters between June 30, 2013 and July 1, 2014. The duPont Jury looks for accurate and fair reporting about important issues that are powerfully told. Breaking news coverage, innovative storytelling and content, and stories that have an impact in the public interest are paramount.
The complete list of winners, including those from radio, is available here.