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.
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; 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
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 searing, intimate feature tells the story of Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, the youngest survivor of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg Oregon, as she struggles against myriad challenges in the massacre’s aftermath. Judges described “A Survivor’s Story” as an “eye-opening,” “brutally honest" portrait of the intense difficulties and complexities of trauma and recovery. Originally published in the Washington Post in December, 2015.
- April 12, 2016 by Christopher Sherman, Eduardo Castillo, Dario Lopez-Mills, Alba Mora Roca, Roque Ruiz-González, Ricardo Lopez
This comprehensive, interactive multimedia series in Spanish and English tells the stories of those in and around Iguala, Mexico, who had lost family members to kidnappings and killings, living in a purgatory of silence for years, and their quest for answers and justice. Judges described “The Other Disappeared” as a “tour de force,” reported with “incredible depth, rigor and compassion." Originally published by The Associated Press between September - December, 2015.
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Past Honorable Mentions
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.
This illuminating three-part series explores the collateral consequences of violence on children, caregivers, educators and others not directly in its line of fire. Judges called the series “eye-opening” and “compelling,” and praised the “compassion” and “clarity” with which the story was approached and executed. Originally published in the Baltimore Sun in December, 2014.
- March 25, 2015
Ochberg Fellow Dave Philipps and Dart Award Honorable Mention recipient Thomas James Brennan co-wrote a front page article for the New York Times about U.S. veterans, disenchanted with civilian life, who are returning to Iraq to volunteer to fight the Islamic State.
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More from the Dart Awards
- 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.
- May 25, 2017
This year's Dart Awards went to The Salt Lake Tribune for its coverage of sexual assault at Brigham Young University and Transom.org for “A Life Sentence: Victims, Offenders, Justice and My Mother. The 2017 winners' roundtable featured Jay Allison and Samantha Broun from Transom.org, and Erin Alberty and Rachel Piper from the Salt Lake Tribune. A full event transcript is now available.
- May 11, 2017
Video coverage of the 2017 Dart Awards presentation and winners' roundtable, featuring Jay Allison and Samantha Broun from Transom.org, and Erin Alberty and Rachel Piper from the Salt Lake Tribune. The event also included a special World Press Freedom commemoration featuring Columbia Journalism School graduate students Alejandra Ibarra Chaoul, Amel Ghani and Riham Alkousaa.
- May 10, 2017
Last week, the Dart Center hosted a reception, awards presentation and winners’ roundtable to honor the 2017 Dart Award winners.
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