2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners Announced: Public Media Garners Top Wins

Podcasts dominate in audio

Rachel Maddow wins first Silver Baton for podcast

FRONTLINE, POV and local station KARE-11 each win two awards

December 11, 2019

Columbia Journalism School announced the 16 winners of the 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards. The winners will be awarded their Silver Batons at Low Memorial Library on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in a ceremony hosted by CNN and PBS's Christiane Amanpour and The New York Times The Daily's Michael Barbaro. This is Columbia Journalism School’s 50th year hosting the duPont-Columbia Awards.

Eight of this year’s duPont Silver Batons will be awarded to public media outlets, including six for PBS. The 2020 winners focus on timely issues such as immigration, political corruption, and abuse of power, especially as it relates to sexual assault. Rachel Maddow will win her first-ever Silver Baton, FRONTLINE, POV and local station KARE-11, Minneapolis will each win two Batons, and CNN will be honored for its comprehensive breaking news coverage of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. This year's three audio awards are all podcasts: MSNBC's "Bagman," Michigan Radio and NPR's "Believed," and "In the Dark" from APM Reports.

“This important work is all coming at a time of increased mistrust in powerful institutions,” said Cheryl Gould, duPont Jury Chair and former NBC News Executive. "Journalists are playing a critical role in holding the powerful accountable, and we are proud to honor these duPont winners for their commitment.”

This year, the duPont Awards honor three winners for international breaking news coverage of some of the biggest stories of the year: from CNN’s crucial international team reporting on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, to PBS NewsHour’s fearless series of reports inside war-torn Yemen as well as in depth reports about the immigration crisis, and the Trump administration’s child separation policy from CBS News 60 Minutes.

Winners exposed political corruption on a range of platforms: North Carolina’s WSOC-TV’s local investigative reporting on election fraud broke news that led to national attention and criminal charges.  POV’s “Dark Money,” a thriller-style documentary about the insidious role dark money plays in Montana’s elections. MSNBC’s “Bagman,” a seven-episode podcast, was an eye-opening account of the political chicanery of Vice President Spiro Agnew, with clear context for current events.

Sexual abuse at home and abroad was brought to light by three honorees: In WKBW-TV’s “Fall from Grace,” one dogged local reporter revealed a cover up of clergy sex abuse by the Catholic diocese in Buffalo. After the series of reports aired, on December 4, the Bishop in Buffalo resigned. Michigan Radio and NPR’s riveting podcast “Believed” profiled a team of women who won a conviction in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history. And POV’s “The Apology” offered a compelling exploration of the decades-long fight for justice still ongoing for "comfort women" enslaved by Japanese troops during World War II.

“That three separate reports on sexual abuse would win in one year is significant,” said duPont-Columbia Director Lisa R. Cohen. “The wide range of coverage - local, national and international - on a topic so long hidden from view tells us we are truly in the midst of a reckoning.”

One local Minneapolis television station is winning two duPont Awards: “On the Veteran Beat” by KARE 11 Investigates, for its relentless commitment to reporting on veterans wronged by a broken system and KARE 11's “Love Them First,” a documentary that explored universal issues of race and poverty through an intimate portrait of one struggling elementary school.

Two other duPont Award winners examined race in America:  The “In the Dark” podcast from APM Reports will be honored for a bonus season that followed the case of death row inmate Curtis Flowers as it went before the Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned his conviction. “Reconstruction: America After The Civil War,” from WETA, McGee Media and Inkwell Films, wins for a vivid four-part documentary series on PBS that grappled with the 50-year arc spanning the end of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the rise of Jim Crow.

FRONTLINE on PBS also wins two Silver Batons for deep dives into growing threats today. The first Baton honors a chilling two-part documentary produced in partnership with ProPublica, “Documenting Hate,” that covered the alarming rise of violent American hate groups. FRONTLINE’s second Baton will be awarded for “The Facebook Dilemma,” another two-part project that traced how Facebook departed from its idealistic origins and became an international platform for political disinformation and division.

New platforms - podcasts and streaming services - continue to emerge as producers of important journalism. Along with the winning podcasts, Netflix will take home a Silver Baton for “Bleeding Edge,” an alarming documentary investigation of the immense power of the medical device industry, and the tragic consequences of faulty implants.

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.

The 2020 duPont-Columbia Jurors are: Cheryl Gould, Lynne Adrine, Andy Bowers, David Bauder, Kate O’Brian, David Rummel, Madhulika Sikka, Betsy West, Mark Whitaker

Watch the announcement video and learn more about The duPont-Columbia Awards.

The 2020 duPont winners

APM Reports
In the Dark, Season Two: Supreme Court Coverage

An enlightening bonus season of podcast episodes followed the case of death row inmate Curtis Flowers as it went before the Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned his conviction.

CBS News 60 Minutes
On the Border

This nuanced and newsmaking reporting looked at the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the Mexican border, from the poignant lens of aspiring immigrants going through it.

The Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

CNN used the full force of its international reporting to break story after story on the disappearance and grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi government’s involvement.

FRONTLINE & ProPublica - PBS
Documenting Hate

In the wake of Charlottesville, FRONTLINE and ProPublica journeyed deep into America’s shadowy white supremacist movement, exposing some of its most influential leaders and the underground neo-Nazi network that inspired, among others, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter.

The Facebook Dilemma

In a penetrating two-part documentary FRONTLINE traced how Facebook departed from its idealistic origins to become an international platform for political disinformation and division.

Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary

This gem of a documentary explored universal issues of race and poverty through the intimate portrait of a struggling elementary school and its inspiring principal.

KARE 11 Investigates
On the Veterans Beat

KARE 11’s ongoing, groundbreaking reporting uncovered the Veterans Administration’s lax treatment of veterans in all areas of services, resulting in millions of dollars in refunds to vets as well as an investigation by the Inspector General.

Bleeding Edge

This alarming feature documentary investigated the immense power of the medical device industry, the poor regulation of devices and the tragic physical and psychological consequences of faulty implants.

PBS Newshour
Inside Yemen

Fearless reporter Jane Ferguson became one of the first American journalists inside war-torn Yemen to report on the catastrophic effects of the conflict there on men, women and especially children.

POV & American Documentary, Inc. on PBS
The Apology

This emotional documentary offers a compelling exploration of the decades-long fight for justice for the "comfort women" enslaved by Japanese troops during World War II.

POV: Dark Money on PBS

Following an investigative reporter through a real-life political thriller, this documentary exposed one of the greatest threats to American democracy: corrupt big money that floods elections.

Michigan Radio & NPR

This riveting podcast series, an unnerving look at how well-meaning adults can dismiss uncomfortable truths, detailed how a team of women brought Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to justice.

Bag Man

The seven-part podcast revisited the investigation, largely overlooked in the wake of Watergate, into corruption at the highest levels of the US government, which ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Fall From Grace: When Priests Prey and Bishops Betray

The searing compilation of investigative reports took clergy sex abuse and coverup by the Catholic Church, and revealed hidden, long-standing problems within the diocese in Buffalo, NY. Just last week, on December 4. the Bishop there resigned.

Reconstruction: America After The Civil War

With white supremacy, voter suppression and the legacy of black-face minstrels making national headlines, PBS aired this timely inquiry of their roots in one of the most neglected and misunderstood chapters of our national history. 

Something Suspicious in District 9

Dogged, shoe-leather reporting in North Carolina’s 2018 Congressional elections led to a powerful fraud investigation that sparked widespread national attention and criminal charges.