2021 Dart Award Entry Guidelines

The Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma recognize exemplary journalism about the impact of violence, crime, disaster and other traumatic events on individuals, families and communities. Entries should focus on the experience of victims and survivors as well as contribute to public understanding of trauma.

The Dart Awards honor North American newspaper, magazine, online, audio, television, video and multimedia journalism that goes beyond the ordinary in reporting on trauma. They are team prizes, reflecting the range of contributors and elements that shape the entry. Past winners include some of the world’s best-known news organizations as well as small local and community outlets. 

In addition to the traditional Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, this year we will be giving a special Dart Award for Outstanding Coverage of the Covid-19 Crisis in recognition of the exceptional challenges posed by the pandemic across the journalism community. The judging panel will select one entry for this special award, honoring work that illuminates the psychosocial impact of the pandemic. No additional materials beyond those required by the overall competition are needed in order to be considered.

Each award will carry a cash prize of $5,000. Winners will be announced on April 28, 2021.


The Dart Awards competition is open to news organizations and independent journalists. All entries must have originally published, aired or broadcast between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 by news outlets based in North America or U.S. territories.

There is a maximum of two entries per newspaper, magazine, website, television station, radio station, podcast platform or independent journalist. If more than two entries are submitted by the same entity, the Dart Center will decide on two entries to consider. We welcome submissions from freelancers, but we encourage freelancer entries to be accompanied by a letter of support from the news outlet that published, aired or broadcast the work.

Audio, television and documentary entries including series may not exceed 60 minutes in length. If you are entering a podcast series, the submission should include one or more episodes that do not exceed 60 minutes in total.

Print or online entries must be limited to six pieces, including video/multimedia, text and photo galleries. Visual stories must have been published by a news outlet to be eligible. If your entry contains more than six stories, please select no more than six to represent your entry.

Standalone blog posts; books; documentaries and other entries exceeding 60 minutes are not eligible

Entries that were published or broadcast in languages other than English are eligible, however they must be accompanied by a full translation, transcript or subtitles in English.

Entries will not be accepted by full-time employees of Columbia Journalism School, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma or Dart Center satellite offices.


  • Exhibit the highest standards of journalistic excellence.

  • Portray victims and survivors of trauma with sensitivity and insight.

  • Inform readers about the ways individuals react to and cope with emotional trauma.

  • Avoid sensationalism, melodrama and portrayal of victims as tragic or pathetic.

  • Emphasize victims’ and survivors’ experience rather than the traumatic event itself.


Entries must be submitted via the online entry form, and must include all required materials as described below. Only complete entries will be considered.

1) Completed online entry form and electronic sign off of release waiver by lead reporter, news director, project director, executive editor or project supervisor. 

2) One to two-page cover letter from the lead reporter of the entry that addresses:

  • How the topic was first encountered and pursued;

  • Particular reporting challenges, or other special circumstances;

  • Notable reader response or impact from the work;

  • If a correction or clarification has been run, or if anyone has challenged the story’s accuracy. (Please explain and include documentation of the situation.)

3) Letter of support from the lead editor, chief producer or project supervisor.

4) Full entry please follow the relevant instructions below in assembling your entry:

  • Newspaper entries: PDF of the entry exactly as it appeared in the newspaper AND live url(s) to the entry.

  • Magazine entries: PDF of the entry AND live url(s) to the entry.

  • Newspaper and magazine websites and online-only publications: Live url(s) to the entry.

  • Radio or podcast entries: .mp3 or .wav file and/or live url(s) to the entry. Total running time may not exceed 60 minutes.

  • Television, film and video: Live url(s) to the entry. Total running time may not exceed 60 minutes.

  • Multimedia: For entries that include elements from more than one of the above, please include live url(s) and relevant media files.

No more than six pieces from any variety of media may be submitted for any one entry. If you are submitting a series that contains more than six stories, you must choose six to represent your entry.

All entries must be submitted online. If a file is too large to upload, please submit via WeTransfer, Dropbox or Google Drive to [email protected]



Dart Awards judging is a two-tier process. First-round judges are a combination of distinguished journalists, journalism educators, and news leaders with expertise across the media spectrum. The final judging committee is interdisciplinary and includes a Columbia Journalism School faculty member, a past Dart Award winner and the incoming President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, who is also a trauma clinician.

Judges will select three Dart Award winners, one of which will receive the Special Award for Outstanding Coverage of the Covid-19 Crisis.


Three awards of $5,000 will be made to the winning teams. Team members entitled to share in the prize include reporters, photographers, copy editors, graphic artists and editors who served as team leaders, as well as any other staff members who assisted in the creation of the entry and are named on the online entry form. The executive editor, producer or other responsible lead manager shall determine how prize money is divided.


There is a $50 entry fee for the Dart Awards. News organizations that submit two entries must pay the $50 entry fee twice. 

If you are a freelance journalist entering independently from the publishing news outlet, we are accepting a reduced entry fee of $25. If this amount is prohibitive, please email [email protected] to request a fee waiver.


Entries must be submitted through the online application system by Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST.

If you have additional questions, email [email protected]