Columbia Journalism School

Program Descriptions of 2010 duPont-Columbia Award Winners

Silver Batons

American RadioWorks, Michael Montgomery & Joshua E. S. Phillips
"What Killed Sergeant Gray?"

 A powerful one-hour radio documentary that explores the cost and legacy of U.S. detainee abuse in Iraq 
This eye-opening investigative report looks at the war in Iraq from a new and important angle by connecting the use of torture to post-traumatic stress disorder and showing that those who torture are not immune from its aftereffects. Producers Michael Montgomery and Joshua E.S. Phillips spent three years tracking down a dozen members of Sergeant Adam Gray’s unit after he overdosed as he was training for redeployment to Iraq. In raw and gripping interviews, the soldiers describe in detail what they have never told anyone before: how they physically and mentally abused prisoners in Iraq, indicating that the practices were sanctioned by their superiors. In this clear and persuasive program, the producers uncovered new information about the cost and legacy of torture.
Michael Montgomery, Joshua E. S. Phillips, producers; Catherine Winter, editor


CBS News & Katie Couric
"The Sarah Palin Interviews"

A series of influential and illuminating television interviews by a skillful veteran reporter
In a political season full of interviews with the leading candidates, Katie Couric’s apt and determined questioning of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin prompted the most revealing remarks and had the greatest impact on the presidential campaign. For those wanting to know more about the late-arriving candidate, Couric’s nimble questioning and even tone elicited answers on the issues. CBS devoted a large amount of air time to these remarkable interviews that were shot in a series of interesting locations. On the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” and on the Internet, these were the interviews heard around the world.
Katie Couric, reporter; Matt Lombardi, Jennifer Yuille, producers; Lori Beecher, coordinating producer; Brian Goldsmith, associate producer; Rick Kaplan, executive producer

CBS News
"CBS Reports: Children of the Recession"

An extraordinary multi-platform series about the recession’s harmful effects on children
At a time when there was little coverage of the effects of the recession on average Americans, CBS News committed considerable resources in this division-wide effort that exposed the devastating impact of the economic meltdown on those most vulnerable: children. Using innovative storytelling techniques and reporters and producers from all of their news outlets, the CBS Reports series exposed a wide range of new problems for children including a spike in abuse cases in emergency rooms. Ranging from the morning news to the evening news, radio to Web, and in partnership with USA Today, this series gave children a voice at one of the most challenging times of their young lives.
Katie Couric, reporter; Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Jim Axelrod, Cynthia Bowers, Kelly Cobiella, Seth Doane, Steve Hartman, Sandra Hughes, Anthony Mason, Byron Pitts, Maggie Rodriguez, Ben Tracy, correspondents; Betty Chin, Paul Facey, Mary Hood, Mark Hooper, Linda Karas, Wendy Krantz , Matt Lombardi, Tony Maciulis, Nichole Marks, John Mondello, Kristin Muller, Emily Rand, Mary Raffalli, Karen Raffensberger, Robin Skeete, Lisa Weiss, Jennifer Yuille, producers; Jerry Cipriano, writer; Anthony Batson, Gavin Boyle, Katie Boyle, Chris Hulme, Estelle Popkin, senior producers; Rick Kaplan, Rand Morrison, Zev Shalev, Patricia Shevlin, executive producers

HBO & Edet Belzberg
"The Recruiter"

A documentary about the push to recruit new soldiers into the U.S. Army
Shot in verité style, this feature-length documentary by director Edet Belzberg revolves around one of the Army’s most successful recruiters and his efforts to enlist volunteers in his hometown of Houma, Louisiana. Stepping beyond ideology and politics, the filmmakers follow the recruiter’s day-to-day life, and his intense efforts to recruit at a time when the Army is fighting two wars. Belzberg also follows four teenage recruits from diverse backgrounds. We see the recruiter’s efforts to prepare them for the Army and go with them through basic training. Without judgment, the film touches on many aspects of the current war policy and brings to light the real crisis of enrollment in a volunteer Army.
Edet Belzberg, director, producer; Alan Oxman, producer; Adam Bolt, co-producer; Chad Beck, Adam Bolt, editors; Edet Belzberg, Liz Dory, Rossana Rizzo, cinematography; Derrick Hodge, composer. Nancy Abraham, senior producer; Sheila Nevins, executive producer

KHOU-TV, Houston & Mark Greenblatt
Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard

An extensive three-part investigation into widespread fraud and discrimination against women
Reporter Matt Greenblatt’s two-year investigation documented the hostile and retaliatory culture towards women in the Texas National Guard, and then exposed corruption in the entrenched nearly all-male leadership.  He first found that the Texas National Guard was deliberately driving competent and accomplished women out of the service. Greenblatt’s reporting then uncovered serious financial corruption in the Guard’s leadership. The series resulted in the firings of Texas’ top generals and commanders, the historic appointment of top female leadership, and new laws to increase oversight over the organization. Greenblatt’s reporting goes to the heart of a critical issue – the treatment of women in military services.
Matt Greenblatt, reporter; Chris Henao, producer; Keith Tomshe, editor, photographer; David Raziq, executive producer; Keith Connors, news director

KMGH-TV, Denver & Tony Kovaleski
"33 Minutes to 34 Right"

A series of investigative reports and a 30-minute special exposed a crisis in the city’s emergency response system
Denver International Airport is the fourth busiest in the country, but it was woefully unprepared for medical emergencies until KMGH-TV and reporter Tony Kovaleski profiled a man who died at the airport after waiting more than 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Through inside sources and open records requests to city agencies, KMGH was able to piece together data of ambulance response times showing system-wide problems in Denver’s emergency ambulance service including the routine manipulation of emergency call data and the lack of a full-time ambulance at the airport. The city made significant changes to emergency response procedures after these reports aired.
Tony Kovaleski, reporter; Tom Burke, Arthur Kane, producers; Jason Foster, photojournalist; Byron Grandy, general manager; Jeff Harris, news director; Tom Burke, Arthur Kane, Tony Kovaleski, executive producers

MediaStorm & Jonathan Torgovnik
"Intended Consequences"

A moving multimedia presentation about Rwandan children born of rape
In painfully intimate interviews photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik explores an unfathomable question: can a mother can love a child born out of rape. The women profiled in this haunting multimedia presentation were caught in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when mass rapes resulted in the birth of an estimated 20,000 children. It spotlights an issue which had not been as widely covered as other war crimes in Rwanda, and is the first Web-based production to win a duPont Award. The women speak simply about their brutal experiences, their isolation and suffering, and the way forward. The producers made excellent creative choices that contributed to the impact of the reporting without resorting to sensationalism.
Jonathan Torgovnik; photography and interviews; Chad A. Stevens, producer; Jules Shell, on-location video; Bob Sacha, Chad A. Stevens, studio video; Pamela Chen, Sherman Jia, composers; Tim Klimowicz, graphics; Brian Storm, executive producer

Original Story: Intended Consequences

NPR, Michele Norris & Steve Inskeep
"The York Project: Race and the 2008 Vote"

A remarkable series of conversations about race and its role in the 2008 election
To dig deeper than election polls into the national conversation about race and politics, NPR Reporters Michele Norris and Steve Inskeep met with a diverse group of voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania who spoke frankly about how race would affect their votes in November 2008. The reporters created a safe atmosphere and let the interviews speak for themselves bringing out voices from the middle of the spectrum we rarely hear. The participants were opinionated but not shrill as they spoke openly about this sensitive topic, saying things that were largely unsaid in other coverage of race. Listeners felt they were in the room witnessing a groundbreaking exchange.
Michele Norris, Steve Inskeep, reporters; Brendan Banaszak, Heidi Glenn, Neva Grant, Erin Killian, producers; Susan Feeney, Maria Godoy, Coburn Dukehart, editors; Lindsay Totty, production assistant; Ivan Burketh, Josh Rogosin, broadcast/recording technicians; Nelson Hsu, senior interactive designer; Madhulika Sikka, Christopher Turpin, executive producers

POV, Elizabeth Farnsworth & Patricio Lanfranco
"The Judge and the General" on PBS

A documentary about a judge’s investigation and prosecution of human rights violations in Chile
In this superb documentary, Farnsworth and Lanfranco follow one man’s transformation as he investigates human rights violations in Chile from the Pinochet era. The man, Juan Guzmán, is a conservative judge who ultimately challenges General Augusto Pinochet’s immunity and prosecutes him. The filmmakers trace the judge's descent into what he calls "the abyss," where he uncovers the past — including his own role in the tragedy. The film reveals one of the 20th century’s most notorious episodes in this cautionary tale about violating human rights in the name of "higher ideals." Significant resources were dedicated to produce this beautifully edited film with revealing interviews and astounding archival footage.
Elizabeth Farnsworth, Patricio Lanfranco, producers, directors; Blair Gershkow, editor; Andrés Cediel, co-producer; Rob Weiss, coordinating producer; María José Calderón, assistant producer; Barbara Cohen, composer; Amanda Beck, Lily Koppenberger, production assistants; Richard Pearce, executive producer

WCAX-TV, Burlington & Kristin Carlson
"Foreigners on the Farm"

An unprecedented three-part investigation into Vermont’s reliance on immigrant farm workers
Reporter Kristin Carlson and her team shocked Vermonters when they reported that struggling dairy farmers were secretly hiring an illegal workforce to stay in business. She found that the state's dairy industry would fall apart without migrant workers. The team got unprecedented access to both farmers and illegal Hispanic workers who shared personal stories publicly for the first time about why they were breaking the law. The report also pressed state and federal officials about whether they are complicit in allowing these illegal workers to live and work in Vermont. The exemplary reports neither advocate nor condemn the hiring practice, but instead inform the audience about what’s going on in the barn next door.
Kristin Carlson, reporter; Joe Carroll, editor, photographer; Kristin Kelly, producer; Marselis Parsons, Anson Tebbetts, news directors

WGBH, Boston, FRONTLINE/World, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy & Dan Edge
"PAKISTAN: Children of the Taliban" on PBS

A stunningly bleak portrait of a young generation under the growing influence of the Taliban in Pakistan
This fresh and startling report takes viewers inside the daunting daily lives of children in Pakistan who will influence the destiny of that region and potentially of the world. Dan Edge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy penetrated areas we seldom see to bring out the voices of young people caught in the turmoil between the rising militant insurgents and the army. In the turbulent Swat Valley, a mortar falls nearby while young girls give reporter Obaid-Chinoy a tour of their school that had been shut down by the Taliban. The team embedded with the Pakistani military, and a Taliban recruiter explained to them how he lures children to be suicide bombers. This impressive report is a dispassionate eyewitness account of Pakistan today, and part of a new wave of video reporting from the frontlines.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chony, reporter, producer; Dan Edge, producer, director, cameraman, composer; Julia Barron, executive producer for October Films; Alex Archer, editor; Ken Dornstein, senior producer; Fazeelat Aslam, Asad Faruqi, associate producers; Justine Faram, production manager; David Fanning, executive producer

WSVN-TV, Miami, Carmel Cafiero & Anthony Pineda
"Pill Mills"

An excellent five-part investigation that exposed legal drug dealing and prompted reform
This series of shocking investigative reports exposed the inner workings of pain clinics and prescription drug abuse in the Miami-Dade County area. With adept undercover camerawork, reporter Carmel Cafiero and photographer Anthony Pineda captured damning pictures of addicts legally buying and abusing prescription drugs in broad daylight. Doctors writing these prescriptions were confronted and held accountable. Previous efforts to pass legislation to control these "pill mills" failed, but after these stories aired, a prescription drug monitoring bill was signed into law. The hours the team invested in undercover reporting are commendable.
Carmel Cafiero, reporter; Anthony Pineda, producer, photography

WTVF-TV, Nashville & Phil Williams
"General Sessions Court"

An investigative series of dogged reports exposing corruption in the local courts
Veteran investigative reporter Phil Williams and the NewsChannel 5 Investigates team spent over a year on this outstanding series exposing serious misconduct, possible illegal activity, and a culture of corruption within the local court system. The team used all the reporting tools at its disposal; public records requests, old fashioned surveillance from the ground and the air, and computer data analysis to uncover nepotism, ticket fixing, and ghost employment. The series methodically builds its case from one shocking incident to the next, showing how average citizens are victimized by judges and clerks. With superior storytelling and interviews, this series performed a valuable public service.
Phil Williams, reporter; Bryan Staples, producer, photojournalist; Kevin Wisniewski, producer; Michelle Bonnett, assistant news director; Sandy Boonstra, news director

WWL-TV, New Orleans
"NOAH Housing Program Investigation"

A 50-part investigation of government corruption in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
WWL-TV’s relentless 50-part investigation into a non-profit city agency revealed that a post-Hurricane Katrina house-gutting program designed for the poor and elderly may have been a scheme to funnel money to contractors. Their investigation showed homes that the non-profit claimed to have renovated using federal dollars but where work was never done. Through extensive research, the WWL-TV team also found significant links between the highest paid contractors and the executive director of the non-profit, and one contractor who was linked to the city’s mayor, Ray Nagin. WWL-TV’s stories triggered an investigation by the U.S. Attorney, FBI, and HUD. As a result of the series, a federal grand jury began reviewing evidence of the case. The team produced a remarkable volume of stories that provided depth and detail to the investigation.
Lee Zurik, reporter; Karen Gadbois, contributor, researcher; Tom Moore, Bob Parkinson, photography; Dominic Massa, Chris Slaughter, executive producers


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