2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners Announced | Columbia Journalism School

2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners Announced

A record number of wins for programs by and about women

FRONTLINE PBS wins first Gold Baton awarded in a decade

CNN and WNYC each win two awards


Columbia Journalism School today announced the 16 winners of the 2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards honoring outstanding audiovisual reporting in the public interest. The winners will be celebrated at Low Memorial Library on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 at the 77th annual awards ceremony, hosted by CBS News 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl and NPR’s Ailsa Chang, host of All Things Considered

Fourteen of this year’s duPont Batons will be awarded to reporting teams led by women. The 2019 winners also highlight the growth in newsroom partnerships that pool resources and skills to deliver impactful news stories.

“In a year of big news and upheaval for women, it is fitting that there has also been an extraordinary number of journalistic achievements by women,” said duPont Jury Chair and former NBC News Executive Cheryl Gould.  "We expect this welcome trend to continue and are confident that one day soon, this will go from being a notable trend to an established fact."

FRONTLINE PBS will receive the duPont Gold Baton, the award's highest honor and the first Gold Baton awarded in a decade.  In its citation, the jury noted its longstanding commitment to original documentary programming, as well as its innovative, cutting edge content. This year, eight FRONTLINE programs exemplified that commitment: “Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia,” “Life on Parole,” “Living with Murder,” “Mosul,” “Myanmar's Killing Fields,” “Putin's Revenge,” “The Gang Crackdown,” and “The Last Generation.”

Florentine Films and WETA will take home a Silver Baton for “The Vietnam War,” an exhaustive and engrossing ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series by Directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, who created a truly definitive account of the war from both sides.

Four Silver Batons will be awarded to investigative news partnerships; Reveal, PRX, PBS NewsHour and the Associated Press collaborated on “Kept Out,”  to expose current day redlining -  the entrenched  practice of denying mortgages and home loans to people of color;  CBS News “60 Minutes” and The Washington Post uncovered corruption in the DEA and the pharmaceutical industry in a two-part report, “The Whistleblower” and “Too Big to Prosecute”; WTSP and The Tampa Bay Times took a colorful look at questionable campaign finance laws in “Zombie Campaigns”; and WNYC and ProPublica’s joint reporting project, "Trump, Inc," investigated President Trump's businesses.

The awards honoring work by or about women include CNN’s documentary “RBG,” a profile of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a largely female team led by Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen; NBC Bay Area’s local investigative series that showed a rise in physical attacks on bus drivers as reported by Vicky Nguyen; CNN’s international human rights abuses reporting by Nima Elbagir; HBO’s “I Am Evidence,” produced by Mariska Hargitay and Trish Adlesic, directed by Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir, about the systemic failure nationwide to test rape kits; RYOT’s feature documentary “On Her Shoulders,” directed by Alexandria Bombach about Nadia Murad, Nobel Prize-winning Yazidi activist.  Gold Baton-winner FRONTLINE PBS is also helmed by a woman, Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath.

For a second year in a row, immigration is the theme of several winners’ work, including This American Life’s  two hour-long radio program “Our Town,” about immigrants in an Alabama town. The cable channel Epix’s feature-length documentary, “This is Home,” chronicled the first year of refugees in Baltimore.

WNYC’s second Baton will be awarded for the podcast “Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice,” that followed teenage offenders stuck in the system. It is one of six local investigative reporting winners this year. The others include CBS Miami (WFOR) for “The Everglades: Where Politics, Money and Race Collide,” a thought-provoking documentary about Florida’s water crises, and Rocky Mountain PBS’ Insight with John Ferrugia’s report, “Imminent Danger,” a critical look at Colorado’s limited oversight of mentally ill gun owners.

Founded in 1942, the duPont-Columbia Awards uphold the highest standards in journalism by honoring winners annually, informing the public about those journalists' contributions and supporting journalism education and innovation, thereby cultivating a collective spirit for the profession. See more about the duPont-Columbia Awards and this year's winners.


The 2019 duPont winners are:

CBS Miami (WFOR)
The Everglades: Where Politics, Money and Race Collide

An engaging hour-long documentary that seamlessly explored the deeper environmental, political and social roots of Florida’s contaminated Everglades.


CBS News 60 Minutes / The Washington Post
The Whistleblower & Too Big to Prosecute

In this joint investigative series, 60 Minutes and The Washington Post exposed a war within the DEA over the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the opioid epidemic.


CNN Films

The first theatrical documentary to present a comprehensive and intimate portrait of a sitting Supreme Court Justice, RBG is an engrossing, entertaining lesson in women’s rights and constitutional law.


CNN International & Nima Elbagir
Human Rights Abuses Reporting

Elbagir's fearless reporting across Africa, from a modern day slave market in Libya, to child labor in Congo and a smuggler’s network in Nigeria, documented rarely seen exploitation and corruption.


EPIX, Gidalya Pictures & Blumhouse
This Is Home: A Refugee Story

This feature-length documentary gave unique insight into the mechanics and challenges of refugee assimilation, with extraordinary depth and detail, to capture what it is to be a refugee.


Florentine Films & WETA
The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War is a major achievement in documentary storytelling; a ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series ten years in the making, that viscerally brought the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed to life.


Gold Baton:

A standard-bearer and innovator, this year FRONTLINE produced an exceptional lineup of outstanding programs that illustrated how well it both champions traditional documentaries while also forging ahead with cutting edge, adaptive content, as exemplified by these programs:


Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia
Life on Parole
Living with Murder
Myanmar's Killing Fields
Putin's Revenge
The Gang Crackdown
The Last Generation

I Am Evidence

Focusing on three American cities grappling with tens of thousands of untested rape kits, this compelling and disturbing feature-length documentary detailed the experiences of four victims caught up in a fundamentally flawed criminal justice system.


NBC Bay Area KNTV Investigative Unit
Drivers Under Siege

The hard-hitting local investigative series provided shocking testimony about the increase in violent attacks on Bay Area bus drivers, which brought the problem to light and ultimately helped address it.


Reveal | PRX | PBS NewsHour | Associated Press
Kept Out

This painstakingly researched exposé on modern day “redlining”- denying mortgages and home loans to people of color - analyzed over 30 million records to provide a meticulous, multi-platform indictment of today’s banking system.


RMPBS Insight with John Ferrugia
“Imminent Danger”

With remarkable access to the families of mentally disturbed killers, Rocky Mountain PBS took an informative deep dive into Colorado’s “Imminent Danger” rule that critics argue does not allow enough early intervention, especially for the mentally ill who own guns.


RYOT & Red Reel
On Her Shoulders

The artfully shot and edited documentary film chronicled a war crimes survivor’s story, using dense narrative layers to give context to an underreported international human rights crisis -ISIS’s persecution of the Yazidi people.


This American Life
Our Town

An engaging portrait of one Alabama town that has absorbed a decades-long surge in immigrant workers, this two-part radio program busted myths and offered important lessons for the rest of the country.


Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice

With gripping personal stories and tense intimate scenes, this nine-episode podcast revealed a web-like juvenile justice system and explored its devastating long term effects on young people.


WNYC & ProPublica
Trump, Inc.

Throughout the first season of this collaborative reporting podcast, a team of investigative reporters expertly tackled the business relations between the Trump administration, the Trump family, the Trump business and the rest of the world.


WTSP & The Tampa Bay Times
Zombie Campaigns

The investigative partnership between WTSP and The Tampa Bay Times combined computer-assisted reporting with clever storytelling to expose loopholes in federal campaign laws that allowed politicians to continue using campaign funds long after they leave office, or even die.


About Columbia Journalism School 
For more than a century, the Columbia Journalism School has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry, and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened in 1912 and offers a Master of Science, a Master of Arts, a Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Mike Berger Awards. Journalism.columbia.edu