NPR, Frontline cited for 2013 duPont-Columbia Awards

By Mike Janssen

Public media outlets were cited for six 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, announced today by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

NPR received three awards, with one given to reporters Deborah Amos and Kelly McEvers for their coverage of Syria. “NPR’s series of daily news reports about the conflict in Syria was wide ranging, balanced and in depth,” the announcement said. “Veteran foreign correspondent Deb Amos provided critical context and explanation in her reporting that helped listeners understand the complex sectarian and regional factors at play. Her reporting from inside Syria at the scene of a massacre and the capitol Damascus documented spikes in violence.”

“Correspondent Kelly McEvers brought a focus on individual stories that made the conflict real in human terms,” the citation said. “With mainstream reporters banned from travel to Syria, her extensive reporting on Youtube distributed videos of the fighting filmed by activists shed light on what was happening.”

"John and Joe"

“John and Joe,” one of the award-winning StoryCorps 9/11 animated shorts. (Image: StoryCorps)

NPR’s second award was shared with POV and StoryCorps for StoryCorps 9/11, a series of radio stories paired with animation to present remembrances of the 9/11 attacks. “StoryCorps’ original approach illuminated a broad range of important issues through first person storytelling,” the citation said.

And the network was recognized along with Philadelphia’s WHYY and WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., for StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaborative multimedia project that examined the impact of natural-gas fracking in the state. “This joint reporting project from witf in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia, and NPR showed the significant impact of natural gas drilling on Pennsylvania residents, and is an important model for reporting on local issues,” said the awards citation.

Two episodes of WGBH’s Frontline received recognition. The program was cited along with Kartemquin Films, Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz for The Interrupters, a Frontline installment that depicted the efforts of former gang members seeking to quell outbreaks of violence on the streets of Chicago. “The documentary provides new understanding of a stubborn societal problem through strong characters and excellent reporting, shooting and editing,” said the citation.

A DuPont-Columbia award was also given to WGBH, Clover Films and Najibullah Quraishi for “Opium Brides.” The Frontline documentary examined cases in which families in rural Afghanistan were forced to give their daughters to drug traffickers after the Afghan government destroyed their poppy crops. “This story is well written and edited, and tells a different story about the drug wars and their impact on society,” the awards announcement said.

And KCET-TV in Los Angeles received a duPont-Columbia award for SoCal Connected: Courting Disaster, a report on the Los Angeles court in charge of deciding custody and foster-care issues. Cameras had never before been allowed into the court to film daily proceedings, and reporters found a court system severely strained by state budget cuts. “Judges had only minutes to decide issues of custody and foster care,” the awards citation said. “Interviews with those struggling through the system were handled with care and respect.”

See the full list of winners.

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