2017 Dart Award Winners Announced

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.” An honorable mention went to The New York Times for "Lasting Scars." Please join us on May 3 for the Awards ceremony and winners' roundtable.

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma: The Salt Lake Tribune and Transom.org.  An honorable mention went to The New York Times. Please join us on May 3 at Columbia Journalism School for the Awards ceremony and winners' roundtable. 

The annual Dart Awards recognize outstanding reporting in all media that portrays traumatic events and their aftermath with accuracy, insight and sensitivity while illuminating the effects of violence and tragedy on victims’ lives.

The Salt Lake Tribune received the Dart Award for its coverage of sexual assault at Brigham Young University, a private, Mormon school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Project team: Erin Alberty, reporter; Rachel Piper, writer and digital news editor; Leah Hogsten, photographer; Sheila McCann, managing editor, with additional staff contributors.) 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.” They described the probing of BYU’s religious teachings and use of the Honor Code as a punitive tool to undermine victims’ efforts at justice as “especially revealing and horrifying, leaving readers outraged at this paradoxical betrayal.” They called the testimonies of victims included in the series “remarkable in their candor” and “profound.” 

Transom.org received the Dart Award for “A Life Sentence: Victims, Offenders, Justice and My Mother” (Project team: Samantha Broun, reporter; Jay Allison, editor.) This intensely personal documentary tells the story of a violent crime committed against reporter 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.” They called Broun’s interviews “thorough,” “compassionate” and “never exploitative” and applauded her for “bringing the listener inside the circle of affected people, allowing us to see how the emotional trauma has affected different people in different ways.” They called the piece a “truly remarkable feat” “worth every bit of the two and a half years Broun spent working on it,” and “a gift to other survivors and their families as well as to a society grappling with a flawed criminal justice system."

An honorable mention went to The New York Times for “Lasting Scars” (Project team: Sheri Fink, reporter; James Risen, reporter, Matt Apuzzo, reporter, Bryan Denton, photographer, Rebecca Corbett, editor). 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.” They also praised the series for “giving voice to those deeply scarred by government policies and reporting on the actual humans harmed by those policies and refuting those who claimed there would be no harm.”

The 2017 winners and honorable mention will be recognized at a public ceremony and winners' roundtable on May 3 at 5:30pm at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The event is free and open to the public.


ABC News, "Madaya Mom”;  APM Reports, “In the Dark”; The Associated Press, “Honor Bound”; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Doctors & Sex Abuse”; The Boston Globe, "Private Schools, Painful Secrets”; The Chicago Tribune, “Tavon and the Bullet”; Reuters “The Road to Ward 17: My Battle with PTSD"; The St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Crisis WIthin”; and Texas Monthly, “The Reckoning”

The interdisciplinary Dart Awards jury combines journalists, educators and mental health professionals.

Final Judges:

Diane Elmore, Ph.D., M.P.H., Policy Program Director, UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress; Tom Gorman, Executive Editor, Retired, Las Vegas Sun; David Hajdu, professor, Columbia Journalism School; Meg Kissinger, investigative reporter and James Madison Visiting Professor on First Amendment Issues, Columbia Journalism School; Brian Palmer, documentary photographer and filmmaker.

First Round Judges:

Melissa del Bosque, investigative reporter, Texas Observer and 2015 Dart Award winner; Lisa Chedekel, investigative reporter and 2007 Dart Award winner; Rachel Dissell, Reporter, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and 2008 Dart Award winner; Matthew Kauffman, investigative reporter, Hartford Courant and 2007 Dart Award winner; Susan Kaplan, New England Public Radio; Peter Klein, Director, Global Reporting Center, University of British Columbia; Eli Saslow, reporter, The Washington Post and 2016 Dart Award winner; Alia Malek, freelance journalist and author; Miles Moffeit, investigative journalist, The Dallas Morning News; Ben Montgomery, reporter, Tampa Bay Times and 2010 Dart Award winner; Jeb Sharp, Senior Editor and Correspondent, PRI and 2009 Dart Award winner; Christopher Sherman, Correspondent, AP and 2016 Dart Award winner; Eve Troeh, News Director, WNNO; Mike Walter, News Anchor, CGTN America; Sarah Wildman, Reporter, Vox, and author; David Wood, Military Reporter, The Huffington Post, author and 2015 Dart Award winner.