2015 Dart Award 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-related issues.

The Dart Awards recognize North American newspaper, magazine, online, radio, television, video and multimedia journalism that goes beyond the ordinary in reporting on trauma. Entries may include breaking news, enterprise reporting, single stories, packages of coverage on a single event, cohesive series, local, regional or national television coverage, long-form documentary and online multimedia packages.

The Dart Awards are team prizes, reflecting all of the elements that shape the entry. Entries will be judged as a total package.

Dart Award-winning teams receive prizes of $5,000. Winners, honorable mentions and finalists will be announced in late April 2015. Travel and hotel expenses for winners to attend an awards ceremony at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York will be covered by the Dart Center. We invite you to submit entries in the following categories:

  • Newspapers and newspaper websites
  • Magazines and magazine websites
  • Online-only news publications
  • Network and nationally distributed cable programs
  • Small, medium and major market television stations
  • Independent productions
  • Local and national radio
  • Web-based productions


The Dart Awards competition is open to news organizations and independent journalists across North America and U.S. territories. All entries must have been published, aired or broadcast from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. There is a maximum of one entry per newspaper, magazine, website, television station, radio station or independent journalist. Entries that were published or broadcast in languages other than English are eligible, though they must be accompanied by a complete translation or transcript in English or with English subtitles. Radio, television or documentary entries may not exceed 60 minutes in length. Any significant challenge to honesty, accuracy or fairness of an entry, such as published letters, corrections, retractions as well as responses by the newspaper or website, should be included with the entry. Standalone, individual blogs are not eligible.


Two awards of $5,000 will be awarded to winning reporting teams for division among those who contributed to the winning entry. Division shall be according to each team member’s contribution to the winning entry as determined by the executive editor, producer or other responsible lead manager.

Team Members

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 application form.


The judging panel is comprised of distinguished journalists, a victim advocate or similar representative and the president-elect of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Finalists are determined by judging committees comprised of journalists, media experts and Dart Center staff.

Judges will select two Dart Award winners. Judges shall consider diversity of media formats in determining winners.

Entries should:

  • 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.

Submission Requirements

Proper submission of the entry is essential. Entries must be submitted via the online application form and include all required materials. If the entry is not submitted as per the requirements, it will not be considered. All entries must include:

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

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

  • How the topic was first encountered and how it was 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, if applicable.

4) Your entry (Please follow the instructions below that correspond to the category of your entry):

  • Newspaper entries: PDF of the full entry (exactly as it appeared in the newspaper) AND live url(s) to the full entry.
  • Magazine entries: PDF of the full entry AND live url(s) to the full entry.
  • Newspaper and magazine websites and online-only publications: Live url(s) to the full entry.
  • Radio: .mp3 file format and/or live url(s) to the full entry. Running time of entry may not exceed 60 minutes.
  • Television, film and video: .mov file format and/or live url(s) to the full entry. Running time of entry may not exceed 60 minutes.
  • Multimedia: Live url(s) to the full entry.

For entries that include elements from more than one of the above categories, please follow the instructions corresponding to each relevant category.

All entries must be submitted online. However, if the electronic file size exceeds 50 MB, it should be submitted via WeTransfer or Dropbox to [email protected]. If the electronic file size exceeds 2 GB, submissions may be sent via regular mail or express post to:

Dart Center – Columbia Journalism School 2950 Broadway, Room 303 New York, NY 10027

If you require special accommodation regarding submission of your entry, please contact Kate Black


Entries must be submitted through the online application system by February 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST. Late entries will not be accepted.

For more information, email Kate Black, Associate Director, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.