Reporting Advice from Ian Urbina and Joe Sexton: 2022 Dart Award Honorees
Reporting Advice from Ian Urbina and Joe Sexton from The Outlaw Ocean Project
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.
2022 First Round Judges: Lisa Armstrong, journalist and Associate Dean, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; Melissa Bailey, freelance journalist; Lisa Cohen, filmmaker, TV producer and Director of Prizes, duPont Awards; Renee Feltz, producer, Democracy Now; Adriana Gallardo, engagement reporter, ProPublica; Kyle Hopkins, special projects editor, Anchorage Daily News; Susan Kaplan, broadcast journalist ; Lisa Krantz, staff photographer, San Antonio Express News; Meg Martin, editor and audio producer; Judith Matloff, journalist and author; Naseem Miller, senior health editor, Harvard Kennedy School’s Journalist Resource; Ben Montgomery, enterprise reporter, Tampa Bay Times; Peter Nickeas, senior writer, policing, CNN; Maya Rao, race and immigration reporter, Star Tribune; Sky Dylan Robbins, producer, journalist, and executive director, The Video Consortium; Maryam Saleh, investigative editor, Reveal; Andrea Simakis, journalist; Brandon Stahl, investigative reporter, KARE-TV Minneapolis and 2019 Dart Award honorable mention; Saidu Tejan Thomas Jr, host, Resistance podcast; Raghuram Vadarevu, digital storytelling editor for global investigations, Associated Press.
2022 Final Judges: Laila Al-Arian, executive producer, Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English; Samantha Broun, audio journalist and 2017 Dart Award winner; Jessica Bruder, journalist and author; Rachel Dissell, journalist, 2008 and 2020 Dart Award winner; Brian Palmer, multimedia journalist; Marit Sijbrandij, PhD, Clinical Psychology Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Incoming President-Elect, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Read more about the 2022 Final Judging Committee here
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; Susan Meiselas, photographer, Magnum Photo Agency; 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; Ginger Thompson, chief of correspondents, ProPublica.
Reporting Advice from Ian Urbina and Joe Sexton from The Outlaw Ocean Project
The judging panel commended the reporting team for shining a light on “compounding tragedies and unfairnesses,” and putting together a “riveting package” of “love and loss in the face of adversity.” They praised Joe Mozingo for the “depth” of his reporting, and for “refusing to describe his subjects as ‘victims,’” instead portraying them “as warriors who are fighting hard battles, whether it's against the ravages of COVID-19 or structural racism.” They hailed the “compassion, care and visual power” of Francine Orr’s photography, saying it’s “clear how hard the reporting duo worked to gain the trust of the hospitals and their sources,” depicting “heroes of stories that are about survival.” Originally published by The Los Angeles Times between February and December, 2021.
The judges described A Feast for Lost Souls as a “deeply moving piece” that “stirs our collective empathy” and “gives voice to the unspeakable.” They praised writer Annelise Jolley and photographer Zahara Gómez Lucini for “letting their subjects grieve and breathe in their own time” and for providing the reader with a “real connection to their pain.” They applauded the team’s “exquisite attention to even the smallest of details,” and for respectfully shining a light on these “resilient, brilliant women” who possess "so much agency in the face of such devastation.” Originally published by The Atavist on November 30, 2021.
On September 30th, the 2021 Dart Awards honorees joined us for three roundtable conversations to discuss their craft, and approach to writing and reporting complex stories.
Judges described this project as “an incredible, daring feat of journalism” which took us “to the heart of a huge policy issue,” “uncovering the details of abuse and holding authorities to account.” They praised the team for its “vivid precision of detail” in painting a “full picture” of Candé’s life, “his hopes and dreams” and “who he was outside of the atrocities he endured.” They commended the reporting team for “zeroing in on a governmental entity that can do violence to so many people” – calling the project “heartbreaking and damning for the European Union” – while zooming out to “the climate migration crisis, one of the biggest stories of our time.” Originally published by The Outlaw Ocean Project on November 28th, 2021.
Judges praised "They Were Sons" for painting “a full picture of the men who died and what it means to lose them,” and for showing the reader the “human shaped holes in the lives of their mothers.” They called the “powerful, first-person storytelling” “unfiltered and unvarnished,” and praised its ability to “capture pride and pain at the same time,” providing a “sense of all that lingers for families after the headlines and social media outrage passes.” They applauded Rita Omokha's “self-effacement and courage,” calling her work “a profound exercise of journalistic responsibility” and “an act of refusal of the easy reporting path.” Originally published by Vanity Fair on May 6, 2021.
Judges called this episode “a masterpiece of trauma-informed journalism” that “cuts right to the heart,” helping listeners “understand the real impact of violence directed at this profession and at the democratic institution.” They praised the team’s “persistent, careful and caring touch” alongside its “straightforward, unblinking approach,” “from the reporting to the language choices to the structure to the ways it demystifies local news.” They praised the team for “creating space for the staff to have agency and nuance in the telling of their own stories,” and said, quite simply, “this story is what trauma is all about.” Originally aired as the first episode of NPR's Embedded podcast on February 18, 2021.
Judges called the coverage of the killing of George Floyd and its aftermath "outstanding" and applauded the team for “helping readers understand that trauma doesn’t end easily or soon, but when addressed properly, it can become a catalyst for major change.” They described the long-form narrative, “George Floyd’s Search for Salvation” as “gripping” and “powerful” “where a symbol and a martyr became a man,” and called it “the definitive George Floyd story.” Originally published by The Star Tribune between May and December, 2020.
The 2023 Dart Awards went to The Boston Globe for “Kate Price Remembers Something Terrible” and to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and ProPublica for “The Landlord & the Tenant.” Honorable Mentions went to Gimlet, a Spotify Studio, and The New York Times. A special citation went to The Washington Post.
"This year’s Dart Award finalists showcase journalists contending in fresh and powerful ways with the hardest questions about the impact of violence," said Dart Center Executive Director Bruce Shapiro. "From excavations of long-past exploitation to searing inquiries into all-too-present gun violence – supported alike by under resourced, embattled local newsrooms and the largest national media – this year’s finalists take reporting in new directions in sourcing, interviewing and data analysis, all in service of a shared commitment to innovative, ethical reporting on survivors of violence."
The Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma honor innovative, ethical and effective reporting of violence, trauma and tragedy across all media platforms. Judges will make two awards, each carrying a cash prize. The submission deadline has been extended. Entries must be received by February 9, 2023 at 5:00 pm EST.