Graduate School of Journalism Announces 14 Winners of the 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards

December 18, 2012

Fourteen winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards were announced today by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Five of this year’s recipients featured international reporting including stories from CBS News, Current TV, FRONTLINE on PBS and NPR. For the first time, two awards will be given to documentary films in theatrical release: one to “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” and one to “Bully.”

"USA Today" will receive its first duPont Award for multimedia reporting, and StoryCorps will win its first duPont silver baton. Five awards will go to local television and radio stations: KCET, KLAS-TV, WVUE-TV, WXYZ-TV and a partnership with witf, WHYY and NPR.

“This exceptional group of journalists represents the best of broadcast, documentary and digital news reporting today,” said Bill Wheatley, outgoing duPont Jury chair, former executive vice president of NBC News and adjunct faculty member at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. “These groundbreaking stories set the standard for excellent reporting; journalists gained access and insight into critical issues in the public interest, and they are telling these important stories in new ways. Collaborating news organizations are also producing outstanding work.”

CBS News will be honored for Foreign Correspondent Clarissa Ward’s courageous reporting from inside Syria on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and NPR will be honored for outstanding news coverage of the bloody uprising in Syria from Correspondents Deb Amos and Kelly McEvers. FRONTLINE on PBS will win two awards; the first for “The Interrupters,” a moving documentary film about inner city violence and efforts to combat it with dignity, and a second award for “Opium Brides,” a wrenching report from Najibullah Quraishi about the unintended human cost of Afghanistan’s opium eradication campaign. Current TV, Christof Putzel and the Renaud Brothers will be honored for “Vanguard: Arming the Mexican Cartel,” a gritty investigation into the Mexican drug war and the flow of guns into Mexico from the United States.

Two independent documentary films in theatrical release will win awards this year: “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” from director Alison Klayman about the extraordinary artist and social justice in China, and “Bully,” a film by director Lee Hirsch that reveals what it is like to grow up as an underdog in America today.

"USA Today" will win an award for its outstanding investigative multimedia report “Ghost Factories.” The interactive report uncovered hundreds of forgotten lead factories across the country and the health hazards they left behind. StoryCorps will receive a duPont Award with NPR and POV for “StoryCorps 9/11,” an innovative and authentic series of remembrances of the human toll of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 told through radio stories with an animated series.

Excellent local reporting will be honored from the ambitious series of reports “Desert Underwater” that exposed the root causes and effects of Nevada’s ongoing mortgage crisis from KLAS-TV, Las Vegas, to a model series of investigative reports from WXYZ-TV, Detroit, “Wayne County Confidential” that uncovered government corruption, KCET, Southern California’s exclusive report “SoCal Connected: Courting Disaster” from inside Los Angeles’ beleaguered Dependency Court, and two outstanding investigative series that spotlighted corruption past and present in New Orleans on WVUE-TV, New Orleans—“Dirty Deeds” and “Hiding Behind the Badge.”

Other awards include an important series of radio and web-based reports “StateImpact Pennsylvania” produced in partnership between witf and WHYY, local public radio stations and NPR that showed the significant impact of natural gas fracking on Pennsylvania residents.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent and global affairs anchor for ABC News, and Byron Pitts, contributor to CBS News “60 Minutes” and chief national correspondent for the CBS Evening News, will host the duPont Awards ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library. Amanpour made a video announcement about the winners that can be seen here.

The 14 winning programs appeared on air, online or in theaters between June 30, 2011 and July 1, 2012. The duPont Awards annual screening process is rigorous. Two groups of screeners made up of past winners, media professionals and educators, a total of over 100 people, screened the entries before the winners were selected by the duPont Jury in early November.

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 also paramount. Learn more about the Jury and the selection process here.

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards honor excellence in broadcast and digital journalism and were established in 1942 by Jessie Ball duPont in memory of her husband, Alfred I. duPont. The awards are generously supported by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.