2014 Dart Award Winners Announced

This year's Dart Awards went to the Las Vegas Sun for Grace Through Grief: A Shattered Family Recovers and This American Life for Harper High School: Parts I and II. Honorable mentions went to More Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. Join us on May 8 to mark the Dart Awards 20th Anniversary and to celebrate this year's winners!

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma: the Las Vegas Sun and This American Life. Honorable mentions went to More Magazine and the New York Times Magazine.

The annual Dart Awards recognize outstanding reporting in all media that portrays traumatic events with accuracy, insight and sensitivity while illuminating the effects of violence and tragedy on victims’ lives.

The Las Vegas Sun received the Dart Award for “Grace through Grief: A Shattered Family Recovers” (Jackie Valley, reporter; Leila Navidi, photographer and videographer; Tom Gorman, editor). This intimate print and multimedia series tells the story of Arturo Martinez, who suffered life-threatening injuries after an intruder broke into his house and sexually assaulted and murdered his wife and daughter while the rest of the family slept. With dignity, insight and compassion, this seven-part series – published on the anniversary of the crime – documents Arturo Martinez’s physical, psychological and spiritual recovery.

Judges called "Grace Through Grief" a “deeply reported and inspiring portrayal of a family in the aftermath of horror.” They called Valley’s prose “exceptional” and Navidi’s photographs “powerful” and “intimate without being disruptive.” They praised the series’ “creative subversiveness,” going far beyond conventional crime reporting in "bringing the reader on a journey of faith, fatherhood, recovery, and resilience.” Judges also recognized the “careful restraint” used in bringing forward the perspectives of Arturo Martinez’s young sons. 

This American Life received the Dart Award for “Harper High School: Parts I and II” (Julie Snyder, producer; Ben Calhoun, reporter; Alex Kotlowitz, reporter; Linda Lutton, reporter; Robyn Semien, co-producer; Ira Glass, executive producer and editor). This stark two-part radio series follows students, school staff and families as they confront and cope with the deeply disruptive impact of gun violence on their everyday lives. The series offers revelatory insights into gang geography, youth culture, the corrosive impact of trauma and the overwhelming limitations to stemming the tide of violence. 

Judges called “Harper High School" “profoundly moving” and “extraordinarily comprehensive and compassionate” in its complexity. They praised its success in “upending every assumption about violence, inner cities and the educational system,” while “showing a wide range of responses to living in an environment of chronic violence and the remarkable efforts made by an overtaxed institution to cope with trauma on an individual, community and systemic level.” Judges also commended the “exceptional depth and nuance” of the reporting; the “tremendous resources” required to embed three reporters in the high school for five months, and the “vivid, almost cinematic, storytelling throughout.”

Each winning team will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

Honorable mentions went to More Magazine and The New York Times Magazine.

More Magazine received an Honorable Mention for “A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness” (Alexis Jetter, writer; Jennifer Braunschweiger, editor; Natasha Lunn, photo director; Julia Fullerton-Batten, photographer.) This illuminating feature explores the connection between domestic violence and chronic illness, drawing on recent scientific research and interviews with medical experts and survivors of violence. Judges called it “a tremendous story on a new concept” and praised Jetter for “clearly articulating the biological ramifications of trauma.” They also remarked on the story’s “significant impact on a policy, legislative and grassroots level.”

The New York Times Magazine received an Honorable Mention for “The Price of a Stolen Childhood” (Emily Bazelon, writer; Ilena Silverman, editor; Ina Jang, photographer; Joanna Milter, photo editor; Lia Miller, research editor; Mark Van de Walle, research editor). This thought-provoking feature tells the stories of victims of child pornography and chronicles their pursuit of restitution from men who view their images, exploring a wide range of legal and emotional issues. Judges praised “The Price of a Stolen Childhood” for “gracefully delivering on its promise to illustrate the emotional, legal and financial impact of a new source of trauma,” and for “showing the complexity of legal interventions and their unintended consequences for victims and survivors.”

The Dart Awards, established in 1994, are administered by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, based at the Columbia Journalism School. The Dart Awards are a team prize, recognizing that presenting in-depth journalism on these challenging subjects requires a newsroom-wide commitment. The Dart Awards now consider entries from across the media spectrum.

The 2014 winners and honorable mentions will be recognized at a public ceremony in conjunction with the 20th anniversary Dart Awards symposium May 8th from 3:00-7:30pm at the Columbia Journalism School.

Finalists: The Boston Globe, "Together despite all, glimpsing the distant finish"; CNN, “My Son is Mentally Ill so Listen Up”; The Gazette (Colorado Springs), “Other than Honorable”; Dallas Morning News, “A Girl in the Closet”; The New York Times, “Beyond the Finish Line”; NPR, “Other than Honorable”; The Texas Tribune, “Trouble in Mind”; and The Wall Street Journal, "The Lobotomy Files.”

The jury combines journalists, educators and mental health professionals.

Final judges: Ana Arana, Director, Fundacion MEPI and 2013 Dart Award winner; David Boardman, Dean, Temple University School of Media and Communication; Lori Grinker, documentary filmmaker and adjunct professor, NYU and Yale University; Miranda Olff, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam and President-Elect, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS); Michael Schudson, Professor, Columbia Journalism School and Sarah Stillman, staff writer, The New Yorker.

First round judges: Stan Alcorn, freelance journalist; Karen Brown, reporter, New England Public Radio and 2008 Dart Award Honorable Mention; Rachel Dissell, reporter, The Plain Dealer and 2008 Dart Award Winner; Matthew Kauffman, investigative reporter, The Hartford Courant and 2007 Dart Award winner; Ben Montgomery, reporter, Tampa Bay Times and 2010 Dart Award winner; Tara Murtha, freelance journalist; Rob Perez, reporter, Honolulu Star-Advertiser and 2009 Dart Award winner; Julian Rubinstein, freelance journalist, and website editor, Dart Center; Dianne Solis, reporter, The Dallas Morning News; Eve Troeh, News Director, WWNO-New Orleans Public Radio.