The duPont-Columbia Awards Host News Awards Special | Columbia Journalism School

The duPont-Columbia Awards Host News Awards Special

2021 Winners to be Announced at Ceremony

Anderson Cooper and Michele Norris Host the Feb. 9 Virtual Event Streaming on and the PBS Video app

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards are partnering with PBS to stream a special event announcing the 2021 award-winners to digital audiences. “The 2021 duPont-Columbia Awards: Honoring the Best of Journalism,” a 60-minute special presentation, will premiere across PBS digital platforms on Tuesday, February 9 at 8 p.m. EST.

This year, for the first time, the duPont jury selected a round of 30 finalists, who were announced on November 12, 2020. Breaking from tradition again, the 15 silver baton winners will be revealed at the ceremony.

Hosted by CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper and Michele Norris, former longtime NPR host and Washington Post opinion columnist, the special presentation of the duPont-Columbia Awards will highlight outstanding reporting in the public interest.

The ceremony will include excerpts from the winning programming from local television stations, broadcast, cable, documentary, online and audio reporting. The honorees will include coverage of the most critical issues from the past year including the global coronavirus pandemic, the fight for racial justice and policing in America.

The hour-long special will premiere on Tuesday, February 9 at 8 p.m. EST across PBS digital platforms, including PBS’s YouTube channel and the PBS Video app. The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards are administered by Columbia Journalism School.

The duPonts have a long history of working with PBS. The annual awards ceremony was televised nationwide on PBS stations for 25 years from 1978 to 2003.

“We are excited to bring this great reporting to a wider audience on PBS, in a moving celebration of the powerful journalism that informed us all over this difficult past year,” said Lisa R. Cohen, Director of the duPont-Columbia Awards


The 2021 duPont-Columbia Finalists:

ABC15 Arizona

Abuse of Force

Dogged reporter Dave Biscobing examined video of a policeman’s abusive taser use and systemic problems in one Arizona police department.


Smriti Mundhra, SamiKhan & Poh Si Teng

AJE Witness/MTV Documentary Films

St. Louis Superman

In a deeply moving sidebar to the racial uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, an inner-city Black activist and “battle rapper” became an anti-violence legislator to honor his dead brother.



Chasing the Moon

Thoroughly reported and lovingly crafted with long-forgotten video and news reports from the era, this documentary afforded a definitive look at America's space race with the Soviet Union that led to the first men landing on the moon.


CBS 2 New York

Forgotten Families

A relentless investigative series by CBS 2 New York revealed how New York City dumped homeless families into squalid housing in Newark, New Jersey and other communities.


CBS News

Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line

In the earliest days of the COVID crisis, a hospital at the epicenter granted CBS News unfettered access, for a gripping one-hour special that captured the extraordinary care delivered by doctors, nurses and EMT’s.



Russia’s Secret Influence Campaigns

Reporter Clarissa Ward traced Russian efforts to subvert the 2020 Presidential campaign to a surprising place - an internet troll farm in Africa working to exploit fear among African American voters.



Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos

As politicians and regulators consider the global impact of Amazon — and how to rein in founder Jeff Bezos’ power, reporter James Jacoby investigated how he built one of the most influential — and controversial — economic and cultural forces in the world.



For Sama

A powerful, harrowing documentary by filmmaker Waad al-Kateab went inside makeshift hospitals in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo to provide a personal lens into the

country’s enduring conflict.



The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

Reporter Martin Smith’s yearslong reporting and analysis of the rise of Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia resulted in this trenchant FRONTLINE documentary that also underscored the Trump administration's unwavering support of the regime, no matter its sins.



After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of “Fake News”

This disturbing documentary untangled the web of conspiracy theorists and fake newsmakers to spotlight the corrosive impact of their efforts to undermine democracy.


KDVR/FOX31 Denver

Police, Paramedics, and Ketamine: What Happened to Elijah McClain?

The death of a young Black man in police custody prompted reporter Lori Jane Gliha to conduct a tenacious investigation that led to officers being fired and a police chief being replaced.


KING 5 News Seattle

Bob's Choice

In this thought provoking local news documentary KING 5 News chronicled a terminal cancer patient who, with humor and insight, decided to legally end his life.


KSTP Minneapolis/St. Paul

George Floyd Coverage

As Minneapolis caught fire this year — literally and figuratively — KSTP produced courageous, sustained team coverage of one of the biggest stories of the year, maintaining a commitment to its hometown viewers.


NBC Bay Area


With traditional shoe-leather reporting and innovative production, this online series documented San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and its descent into Wild West lawlessness.


NBC News Digital

A Different Kind of Force—Policing Mental Illness

This heartbreaking yet hopeful online documentary detailed the strained relationship between law enforcement and those with mental illness, with impressive access to both sides of the intractable issue.



American Factory

This engrossing feature documentary about a Chinese billionaire who came to the “rescue” of a shuttered General Motors plant in beleaguered Dayton, Ohio portrays the human and economic consequences of globalization.



Crip Camp

This inspiring historical film set in the civil rights era profiled a groundbreaking summer camp for disabled teens who helped build a movement and ultimately won passage of the American with Disabilities Act.



Decoding COVID-19

NOVA combined stunning graphics and expert medical analysis with moving human stories in this hour-long primer on the coronavirus crisis, the doctors on its frontlines and researchers in the race for its cure.



There Is No Protection — How The ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy Failed Migrants

NPR reporters traveled to gang-controlled towns inside the Mexican border for a series of radio reports that uncovered tragic personal stories of U.S. asylum seekers caught there, and the troubling impact of the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico" policy.



Five Years North Documentary

Five Years North’s unparalleled access and observational approach provided nuance to a complex issue —  America’s broken immigration system —  by focusing on an undocumented teen working in New York City and the conflicted ICE agent who patrols his neighborhood.


Radiotopia from PRX

Ear Hustle

This remarkable podcast series about the daily realities inside San Quentin prison, produced by those living it, shattered the myths about serving time and what happens afterwards.


The New York Times

Rabbit Hole

This highly informative and entertaining podcast series guided listeners through the nascent history of the internet to help explain what it has done to our lives, our society, and to the notion of truth.


The New York Times Visual Investigations Team

The Russia Tapes: Tracing Attacks on Syrian Hospitals and Civilians

The New York Times Visual Investigative team used cutting edge digital techniques to present damning visual and forensic evidence, proving that Russian pilots bombed multiple Syrian hospitals and other locations filled with civilians.


The Washington Post

Lafayette Reconstruction

Piecing together cell phone video, police phone logs, and other artifacts, the Washington Post’s digital team reconstructed the clearing of Lafayette Park for President Trump’s “Bible photo op,” driving home the disconnect between political ends and violent means.


Upper East Films & Independent Lens | PBS


The riveting verité documentary Bedlam takes viewers inside an overwhelmed psychiatric ER for a painful reminder that America has turned its back on treatment for those with mental illness, who are often criminalized or left to fend for themselves.



India Burning

Vice’s fearless eyewitness reporting revealed the extent to which the Indian government is moving towards declaring its Muslim population second class citizens in an historic effort to undermine India’s secular roots.


WFAA-TV Dallas

Verify Road Trip: Climate Truth

In a fresh take on climate change, producers of this ongoing series devoted an episode to taking a skeptical viewer on a reporting trip to meet and question scientists, and to witness the damning evidence firsthand.


WNBC-TV New York

The Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic

This extensive collection of breaking news, feature, and memorial stories created a 360 view in real time of the coronavirus pandemic, with courageous and thorough reporting on the virus’s explosion in New York City.


WNYC Studios | Radiolab | OSM Audio The Flag and the Fury

This riveting podcast episode recounted the clash of Mississippi culture, politics and family, in an evocative history of the last American state to include the Confederate battle flag on their state flag.


WNYC Studios | Radiolab The Other Latif

In this dazzling audio series, reporter Latif Nasser illustrated the toll of the decades-long global war on terror in his quest to find out how another Latif Nasser ended up in Guantanamo and why he’s still there, despite being cleared to leave.


About Columbia Journalism School

For more than a century, the 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 its doors in 1912 and offers Masters of Science, Masters of Arts, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, and 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 John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the Mike Berger Award and the WERT Prize for Women Business Journalists.