This story focuses on psychologist Jan Kizilhan, a German of Kurdish Yazidi origin, and recent graduates of his program in Psychotraumatology at the University of Duhok, Iraq who are working with Yazidi children returning to their families after years in ISIS captivity. Judges called the piece “explanatory reporting at its best,” and praised the “equally matched excellence of the writing and photography.” They noted the “lean narrative style that builds momentum with deft pacing and layering of personal and contextual details,” and the “use of different visual techniques to convey in a metaphorical way the emotional inner turmoil of the children.” Originally published in the New York Times Magazine on October 31, 2019.
Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma
The next Dart Awards deadline is Wednesday January 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST.
Since 1994, the Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma have recognized exemplary journalism on the impact of violence, crime and other traumatic events on individuals, families and communities. Spotlighting the experiences of victims and survivors, Dart Award winners make significant contributions to public understanding of trauma-related issues. Past winners include some of the world’s best-known news organizations as well as small community outlets.
The Dart Awards are open to newspaper, magazine, online, radio, television, video and multimedia journalism from North America that goes beyond the ordinary in reporting on trauma. Two $5,000 cash prizes are awarded each year.
2020 First Round Judges: Erin Alberty, reporter, The Salt Lake Tribune, and 2017 Dart Award winner; Ted Alcorn, freelance journalist; Lisa Armstrong, Tow Professor, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY; Samantha Broun, radio and multimedia producer, Managing Editor, Transom.org and 2017 Dart Award winner; Gigi Douban, News Director, WBHM Alabama; Susan Kaplan, freelance journalist; Meg Kissinger, Joan Konner Visiting Professor, Columbia Journalism School; Nour Malas, reporter, The Wall Street Journal; Pete Nickeas, reporter, Chicago Tribune; Brian Palmer, freelance journalist; Eilís Quinn, Specialized Reporter, Eye on the Arctic, Radio Canada International and 2019 Dart Award honorable mention; Miriam Sitz, senior news and web editor, Architectural Record; Brandon Stahl, investigative reporter, KARE-TV Minneapolis and 2019 Dart Award honorable mention; Richard Webster, freelance journalist and 2019 Dart Award winner; Kelly Whalen, senior multimedia producer, KQED.
2020 Final Judges: Ken Armstrong, senior reporter, ProPublica and 2016 Dart Award winner; Ellis Cose, writer and author; Donna DeCesare, Professor of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin; Candice Monson, Ph.D. clinical psychologist, Professor of Psychology, Ryerson University and President-elect, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Past judges include: Ana Arana, Director, Fundacion MEPI and 2013 Dart Award winner; John Barth, Managing Director, Public Radio Exchange (PRX); David Boardman, Dean, Temple University School of Media and Communication; Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Lori Grinker, Documentary Photographer; Kenny Irby, Senior Faculty, The Poynter Institute; Miranda Olff Ph.D., Professor, AMC/University of Amsterdam and past president, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS); Sacha Pfeiffer, Investigative Reporter, The Boston Globe; Glenn Smith, Projects Editor, The Post and Courier and 2015 Dart Award winner; Sarah Stillman, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; and Alisa Solomon, Professor, Columbia Journalism School
Past Award Winners
- April 8, 2020 by Rachel Dissell, Andrea Simakis, Lynn Ischay, Ellen Stein Burbach, Kelley Benham French, Melodie Smith, Wendy Carr McManamon, Joel Downey
This multipart series focuses on rape survivor Sandi Fedor’s efforts to track down the serial rapist who attacked her as she discovers that her trust has been betrayed by the indifference of an historically under-resourced Cleveland Police sex crimes unit. Judges praised the team for “successfully intertwining a visceral survivor’s point of view narrative with traditional investigative reporting.” They said the series “meticulously documents with photographs, video clips, audio recordings, public records, police documents, and prior investigative reporting” a “pattern of systemic police department failure dating back decades” which “enabled serial offenders like the man who attacked Sandi Fedor to evade justice for years.” Originally published in the Plain Dealer on September 29, 2019.
This comprehensive series offers a ground-level view of the effects of violence on children and their families, showing not only the psychological toll on young souls, but also the success stories, and scarce resources that are available to help. Judges described this package as a "brilliant body of work" comprised of a "thoughtful mix of beautifully executed stories." They recognized the "tremendous thought and planning" that went into the project, and the "incredible level of trust" the reporters built with the community after initially encountering much skepticism. Originally published by NOLA.com | The Times Picayune in June 2018.
- April 8, 2019 by Kate Wells, Lindsey Smith, Jennifer Guerra, Sarah Hulett, Alison MacAdam, Juliet Hinely, Zoe Clark, Vincent Duffy
These two episodes of the ambitious podcast "Believed" – “The Parents” and “What Have You Done?” – focus on Larry Nassar’s victims and their families, exploring the complicated, conflicted emotions that can persist when people are victimized by a seemingly known and trusted person. Judges recognized the "enormous trust" the reporters built with everyone they interviewed, allowing the survivors and parents to “reveal their deepest regrets and vulnerabilities,” and calling the end result "intimate," "revelatory," and "profound." Originally published by Michigan Radio in January 2018.
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Past Honorable Mentions
An investigation into the violation of a decades-old Illinois law meant to protect students from being physically restrained or locked away in stark rooms as punishment. Judges described “The Quiet Rooms” as “a tour de force of investigative reporting and accountability journalism.” They called it "exhaustive," "fair," and "outstanding from all angles," applauding the “use of testimony from the protagonists in seclusion" and "situating the issue in both a state context and broader national context." Originally published by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune between November and December 2019.
- April 8, 2020 by Lucy Tompkins, Seaborn Larson, Cameron Evans, Gwen Florio, Tommy Martino, Kathy Best
A hard-hitting investigation into residential schools for at-risk children across the state of Montana. Judges commended the “depth of reporting” and “incredible commitment on the part of a small newsroom to revisit a persistent problem concerning the on-going, unrelenting abuse of children despite claims that it had been addressed years earlier." Originally published by the Missoulian between January and November 2019.
- April 8, 2020 by Deborah Amos, Jacobia Dahm, Axel Öberg, Alex Leff, Hannah Bloch, Larry Kaplow, Michael May, Emily Bogle, Claire Harbage
A series of stories focusing on those speaking out to bring justice in European courts for a regime accused of war crimes. Judges called the series “a case study in thorough, humane, and complete reporting.” They applauded Amos for “swiftly and skillfully relating the background and current situation of each person she profiles, describing but not lingering on the traumatic situations they have endured, and then focusing on their resilience and the action to which their personal histories have spurred them." Originally broadcasted by NPR on September 24, 2019.
- April 8, 2019 by Brandon Stahl, Jennifer Bjorhus, MaryJo Webster, Renée Jones Schneider, Abby Simons, Dave Hage
This deeply reported multimedia project explores the failure of Minnesota’s policing and courts to serve rape and sexual assault victims. Judges called “Denied Justice” an “exceedingly thorough investigative reporting triumph" that makes an "enormous contribution to public service." They commended the series' "incredible depth" that touched everything from "decisions around anonymity to the scope of interviews, from expert sourcing to the wide range of angles explored." Originally published by the Star Tribune between July and December, 2018.
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More from the Dart Awards
- December 21, 2020
A panel discussion at International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ annual meeting offered an innovative model for interviewing survivors of sexual assault: keep a therapist in the room.
- December 17, 2020
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 deadline for submissions is January 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST.
- To honor this year's winners, the Dart Center hosted a virtual awards presentation hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper.
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