2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners Announced

February 09, 2021

Columbia Journalism School announced the 15 winners of the 2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards during a special virtual presentation highlighting outstanding reporting in the public interest. Hosted by CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper and Michele Norris, former longtime NPR host and Washington Post opinion columnist, the hour-long special presentation "The 2021 duPont-Columbia Awards: Honoring the Best of Journalism" premiered on PBS digital platforms on Feb. 9. Special guest presenters included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Professor Jelani Cobb and 2019 duPont winner Mariska Hargitay.

The 2021 duPont-winning programming appeared across platforms and featured coverage of the most critical issues from the past year including the coronavirus pandemic, the fight for racial justice, and policing in America. This year, for the first time, the duPont jury selected a round of 30 finalists, who were announced in November 2020, before choosing the winners. Breaking from tradition again, the 15 silver baton winners were revealed at tonight’s ceremony.

Reporting on the coronavirus epidemic by NOVA on PBS and WNBC-TV, New York won awards. Two powerful stories about mental illness were also honored from Independent Lens on PBS and from NBC News Digital. VICE on SHOWTIME won a baton for fearless eyewitness reporting on the increasingly harsh treatment of Muslims in India.

Three podcasts won prizes, including two from WNYC’s Radiolab — a first time winner — that was honored for “The Flag and The Fury” and “The Other Latif.” Radiotopia’s Ear Hustle podcast about the daily realities inside San Quentin prison also won a duPont. Four local television stations were honored including KSTP in Minneapolis for their breaking news coverage of the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath, and WFAA-TV, Dallas for their creative coverage of climate change.

Deeply reported longform stories were also celebrated: “Crip Camp” on Netflix about the history of the disability movement, “Bedlam” on Independent Lens on PBS about the challenges facing those with mental illness, “For Sama” on FRONTLINE on PBS, about one woman’s experience during the war in Syria, and “Chasing the Moon” on PBS American Experience about the space race.

The 2021 winners reflect how dynamic and nimble journalism is today, as reporters adapt to new technologies while also staying laser focused on the critical stories of the day. The Washington Post’s “Lafayette Reconstruction” used forensic reporting to digitally reconstruct the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, and NBC News Digital’s online documentary “A Different Kind of Force—Policing Mental Illness” detailed the strained relationship between law enforcement and those with mental illness. KING 5 in Seattle produced a touching documentary “Bob’s Choice,” about the right to die, for YouTube instead of broadcast.

“Courageously documenting the turbulent events of 2020, journalists performed a critical public service by reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice, the role of the internet in our politics, and much more,” said Cheryl Gould, duPont Jury Chair and former NBC News executive. “We are proud to honor these duPont winners and finalists for their outstanding work and their commitment to fact-finding and truth-telling in these unsettled times.”

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 2021 duPont-Columbia Jurors are: Cheryl Gould, Lynne Adrine, Andy Bowers, David Bauder, Kate O’Brian, David Rummel, Madhulika Sikka, Betsy West, Mark Whitaker.

The 2021 duPont-Columbia winners are:

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.

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.

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-TV 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 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.

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.

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 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.