Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma
Entries for the 2023 Dart Awards contest are closed. The entry deadline was February 9, 2023 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.
2023 First Round Judges: Ted Alcorn, independent journalist and Associate Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Lisa Armstrong, journalist and Professor, University of California Berkeley School of Journalism; Melissa Bailey, freelance journalist; Chris Benderev, producer, This American Life and 2022 Dart Award Honorable Mention; Annelise Jolley, freelance journalist and 2022 Dart Award Winner; Susan Kaplan, broadcast journalist; Meg Kissinger, investigative reporter and author; Meg Martin, Knight-Wallace fellow, University of Michigan; Naseem Miller, senior health editor, Harvard Kennedy School’s Journalist's Resource; Steve Montiel, retired journalist; Betsy O'Donovan, assistant professor, Western Washington University; Francine Orr, staff photojournalist, Los Angeles Times and 2022 Dart Award Winner; Andrea Simakis, Director of Media Relations, Oberlin College and Conservatory and 2020 Dart Award winner; Carly Willsie, former head, Logan Nonfiction Program; Mike Walter, news anchor, CGTN-America News; Almudena Toral, executive producer for video and film, ProPublica and 2021 Dart Award Honorable Mention.
2023 Final Judges: Issac Bailey, Laventhol Visiting Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; John Barth, Principal, Creative Media LLC; Adriana Gallardo, engagement reporter, ProPublica and 2021 Dart Award Winner; Angela Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Director of the Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program at the School of Psychology, University of New South Wales; Sacha Pfeiffer, correspondent, NPR’s Investigations Team.
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; Jessica Bruder, journalist and author; 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; Raghuram Vadarevu, digital storytelling editor for global investigations, Associated Press.
Past Award Winners
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.
- October 12, 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.
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Past Honorable Mentions
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.
- May 5, 2022 by Rita Omokha
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.
- May 5, 2022 by Chris Benderev, Kelly McEvers, Alison MacAdam , Lisa Pollak, Rhaina Cohen, Liana Simstrom, Nicole Beemsterboer, Anya Grundmann
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.
- May 6, 2021 by Libor Jany, Anna Boone, Maya Rao, Mark Vancleave, Jennifer Bjorhus, Aaron Lavinsky, Andy Mannix, Carlos Gonzalez
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.
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More from the Dart Awards
- The Dart Center will host a reception, awards presentation and winners’ roundtable on October 12th at Columbia Journalism School featuring the 2023 Dart Award honorees. The roundtable discussion will illuminate questions of craft, ethics and storytelling, and explore innovative best practices in hard-hitting, humane reporting on violence and tragedy.
- May 4, 2023
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.
- April 24, 2023
"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."
- December 15, 2022
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.
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