Celebrating Journalism at the duPont-Columbia Awards Ceremony

Hosts Christiane Amanpour, of CNN, and Michael Barbaro, of The New York Times, handed out 16 journalists a 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton.

Lisa Cohen
February 03, 2020

On January 21, 2020, distinguished broadcast, documentary and online journalists from around the world gathered in the Low Memorial Library for the 78th annual Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, honoring deep original reporting in audio and video. CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour and The New York Times’ “The Daily” host Michael Barbaro presided over an evening that celebrated wins for major outlets like CNN, CBS and MSNBC as well as local stations. Eight of the evening’s 16 awards went to public broadcasting, including PBS, Michigan Radio and APM Reports. Columbia Journalism School’s Dean Steve Coll presented a Silver Baton to CNN for breaking news coverage of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger gave out the night’s final award to Rachel Maddow for her podcast Bag Man about Vice President Spiro Agnew’s criminal conduct in the White House. Addressing all the honorees in his remarks Bollinger said, “At a time when there is a persistent undermining of respect for truth and facts, we all take great comfort in the care and tenacity with which you do your jobs every single day.” 

Maddow thanked “the ghost of Spiro Agnew who I firmly believe was sent back to haunt me—to haunt us—to help us keep our heads on straight about political crisis and catastrophic White House scandal and shocking demagoguery and impeachment, and all these things we are living through right now that we keep saying are unprecedented. It's not unprecedented. We got this.”

The duPont awards also have a longstanding commitment to awarding local journalism. This year was no exception. One local station, KARE 11 in Minneapolis took home two Silver Batons, including one for a documentary, Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary. The subject of the documentary, Principal Mauri Friestleben traveled to New York to accept the award and received two standing ovations for her inspiring remarks.