Employing the highest standards of video production, “We Are Witnesses” captures the enormity of the jail-court-prison complex, while keeping an intense focus on the individual lives affected and provoking dialogue around criminal justice reform. Judges praised its “innovative” approach to storytelling, exploring “multifaceted trauma” from “many different angles,” and “refusing cliché at every level.” The series was created by The Marshall Project in partnership with Participant Media, The New Yorker, and Condé Nast Entertainment, and ran on both The Marshall Project and The New Yorker websites.
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.
2018 First Round Judges: Issac Bailey, journalist and author; Jessica Benko, print and radio journalist; Lisa Cohen, Director of Prizes, duPont-Columbia Awards; Tom Gorman, Executive Editor, Retired, Las Vegas Sun; Sally Herships, Director, Columbia Journalism School Radio Program; Abigail Jones, Senior Writer, Newsweek; Tara McKelvey, White House Reporter, BBC News; Finbarr O'Reilly, author and photojournalist; Shoshana Walter, Reporter, Reveal; David Wood, Military Reporter, The Huffington Post, author and 2015 Dart Award winner.
2018 Final Judges: Erin Alberty, Reporter, Salt Lake Tribune and 2017 Dart Award winner; Melissa del Bosque, Investigative Reporter, Texas Observer and 2015 Dart Award winner; Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Kerry Donahue; Director of Training, PRX; Patrick Farrell, Professor of Journalism, Emerson College; Julian Ford, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine and School of Law.
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; 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
Click here for entry guidelines. The entry deadline for the 2018 Dart Awards has passed.
Past Award Winners
- April 11, 2018 by Neil Barsky, Jenny Carchman, Dawn Ostroff, David Remnick, Participant Media, Lindsey Megrue, Seth Bomse, Marley Cogan, Scott Morgan, David Jacobson
This meticulously reported series offers a ground level, panoramic view of the devastating and profound impact of gun violence on children's lives. The results, at once harrowing and revelatory, provide a fresh and compelling look at one of the most pressing issues of our time. Judges called this package a "remarkable series spanning multiple events of violence, each examined with unflinching clarity and emotional rawness." Originally published by The Washington Post between April - December, 2017.
This exhaustive and meticulously reported year-long inquiry into BYU’s practice of investigating students who report sexual assaults for possible violations of the school’s Honor Code led to sweeping policy changes at BYU, and prompted wider soul-searching on rape culture in Utah. Judges called The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage “a rare combination of journalistic rigor, aggressive reporting and compassion.” Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune between April - October, 2016.
This intensely personal documentary tells the story of a violent crime committed against reporter Samantha Broun’s mother, its far-reaching impact on her family and decades of reverberations on politics and the criminal justice system. Judges described “A Life Sentence” as a “deeply honest,” “brave” and personal story “elevated to great journalism.” Originally published by Transom.org in March, 2016.
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Past Honorable Mentions
An exhaustive investigation into U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, and the experiences of civilian survivors. Judges called “The Uncounted” “accountability journalism at its best,” “impeccably researched,” “extensively sourced,” and “deeply moving.” Originally published in The New York Times Magazine in November, 2017.
A deeply humane and riveting piece that follows the Marin family through the arrest and deportation of their mother. Judges called “Losing Gloria” a “beautifully written,” “crucial story” that shows how people “metabolize the trauma of a singular moment.” Originally published in The California Sunday Magazine in June, 2017.
This three-part series exposes the hidden legacy of torture perpetrated by the United States at C.I.A. prisons and Guantanamo, and examines the long-term consequences on prisoners. Judges called it “incredibly important journalism,” and commended it for providing “a new angle on the urgent topic of torture.” Originally published by The New York Times in October and November, 2016.
Clemantine Wamariya, who at age six fled the Rwandan genocide with her sister, spent seven years wandering central Africa as a refugee, eventually coming to the United States and succeeding by every conventional marker. Judges called the piece “clear-eyed,” “tremendously insightful,” and “gracefully and honestly told.” Originally published by Matter in June, 2015.
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More from the Dart Awards
- April 11, 2018
This year's Dart Awards went to The Marshall Project for "We Are Witnesses" and to The Washington Post for its series on gun violence seen through the eyes of children. Honorable mentions went to The California Sunday Magazine and The New York Times Magazine.
The following six pieces were finalists: Harpers / The Investigative Fund, "Ghost Nation"; Houston Chronicle, "Alive Inside"; New York Times Magazine / Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, "The Boys from Baga"; NPR News, "Our Hearts Are Dead"; Reveal with New Hampshire Public Radio, "Heroin Diaries"; and Star Tribune, "Left to Suffer"
- April 11, 2018
This year's Dart Awards went to The Marshall Project for "We Are Witnesses" and to The Washington Post for its series on gun violence seen through the eyes of children. Honorable mentions went to The California Sunday Magazine and The New York Times Magazine. Please join us on May 3 for the Awards ceremony and winners' roundtable.
- At Columbia Journalism School in New York City, the Dart Center will host a reception, award ceremony and winners’ roundtable featuring the 2018 Dart Award winners. The roundtable will illuminate the questions of craft, ethics and storytelling in their work, and explore innovative best practices in hard-hitting, humane reporting on violence and tragedy.
- December 11, 2017
The Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma honor innovative, ethical and effective reporting of human tragedy across all media platforms. Judges will make two awards, each carrying a $5000 cash prize. The 2018 submission deadline has passed.
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