Climate Reporting, War Documentaries and More Honored at the 2024 duPont-Columbia Awards Ceremony
Columbia Journalism School announced the 15 winners of the 2024 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards last night during the 82nd annual awards ceremony at Low Memorial Library on the Columbia Morningside campus. The 2024 ceremony, which highlights and honors outstanding audio and video reporting in the public interest of the last year, was hosted by ABC News Anchor David Muir and CNN Anchor Audie Cornish.
The winners of this year’s awards featured crucial reports on the environment, hard hitting local investigations into police misconduct and other government institutions, and alleged Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine, among other important topics.
“In this moment when truth is being tested here at home and around the world,” said Muir in opening remarks, “it is a privilege to honor the journalists who work tirelessly to uncover the truth, and who often risk their own lives to report on the most pressing stories of our time. Their work has never been more important, and it serves as an inspiration for us all.”
Cornish said, “At its best, reporting is mission-driven work with high stakes for the voices we amplify.” She praised all the duPont honorees for reporting with “curiosity, urgency and empathy.”
PBS led the evening taking home a total of three batons. Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein won for their three-part documentary series “The U.S. and the Holocaust” chronicling the rise of anti-semitism in America in the late 1930’s and 40’s. FRONTLINE won awards for two documentaries—”Afghanistan Undercover,” a fearless undercover report about the Afghan women whose freedoms are shrinking under the Taliban leadership, and “20 Days in Mariupol,” made in partnership with The Associated Press, which took an immersive, first hand look at the horrifying humanitarian toll of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
ABC News took home two batons, one for their dedication and comprehensive reporting on the environment, including an investigation into the plastics recycling industry and multiple reports on one of life's most critical resources, water. ABC News in partnership with Hulu and Onyx Collective also won for the documentary “Aftershock” which took an unflinching look at the United States’ maternal death rate and the large discrepancy between Black women who die at three times the rate of white women.
The 2024 ceremony marked the first-ever wins for three local news outlets. WANF-TV, which won for shedding light on the public defender shortage crisis in an investigation called “The Sixth,” KVUE-TV in partnership with The Austin American-Statesman won for “Accountability After Uvalde,” which broke the first reports of the delayed response by the Uvalde Police Department during the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting, and New Hampshire Public Radio won for its damning podcast, “The 13th Step,” a multi-part series describing the sexual misconduct committed by the CEO of a leading addiction recovery center in New Hampshire.
I feel that we live in a horrible world... But somehow I also feel that we have, at least, hope to change it with our work. At least, we have to try.
KXAS-TV and KUSA, previous duPont winners, were back again this year adding to a total of five local stations being honored in last night's ceremony.
"Women chose journalism when they didn't have an answer to a big unsolvable problem," said “The 13th Step’s” Lauren Chooljian. "I accept this Baton for all the women who spoke with me... and for those who couldn't come forward at all."
Joining “The 13th Step” were two other podcast winners: “Mother Country Radicals,” from Crooked Media and “Sold A Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong” from APM Reports.
Other winners of the evening included powerful longform video stories from The New York Times, Brooks Lapping/Les Films D’ici and Ideal Partners.
Brooks Lapping won for their extraordinary behind-the-scenes series “Putin vs The West,” and producer Norma Percy summed the night up from the stage. "I really always thought that this is the award that matters," she said in her acceptance speech. "What I've been doing for thirty years is to try and show what it's like inside the room where the really big international political decisions are made."
Director Mstyslav Chernov accepted a Silver Baton for the evening’s last award for the AP/Frontline documentary “20 Days in Mariupol,” about the devastating Russian siege of that city. Chernov, himself a Mariupol native, left the audience with this sobering but hopeful thought: "I feel that we live in a horrible world... But somehow I also feel that we have, at least, hope to change it with our work. At least, we have to try."