2019 Dart Award Winners Announced

This year's Dart Awards went to Michigan Radio for two episodes of "Believed" and to NOLA.com | The Times Picayune for "The Children of Central City." Honorable mentions went to Radio Canada International – Eye on the Arctic and to The Star Tribune.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 25th annual Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma: Michigan Radio and NOLA.com | The Times Picayune. Honorable Mentions went to Radio Canada International – Eye on the Arctic and to The Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

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.

Michigan Radio received the Dart Award for episodes six and seven of “Believed,” an ambitious podcast examining the case of Larry Nassar, the Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually assaulted more than 250 young women, and the devastation he wrought. The podcast goes beyond the headlines of this landmark sexual abuse story to explore how Nassar so easily preyed on young women and their families, focusing on the self-doubt and denial that took many years – and the courage of a few victims – to break through. (Team: Kate Wells, reporter; Lindsey Smith, investigative reporter; Jennifer Guerra, executive producer; Juliet Hinely, senior producer; Sarah Hulett, senior editor; Alison MacAdam, editor; Zoe Clark, program director; and Vincent Duffy, news director.) The two episodes – “The Parents” and “What Have You Done?” – focus on Nassar’s victims and their families, exploring the complicated, conflicted emotions that can persist when people are victimized by a seemingly known and trusted person.

Judges described "Believed" as “a gripping tale that resonates far beyond this particular story.” They called it “incredibly in-depth,” “stellar” reporting that "leaves no stone unturned." They recognized the "enormous trust" the reporters built with everyone they interviewed, allowing the survivors and parents to “reveal their deepest regrets and vulnerabilities,” and calling the end result "intimate," "revelatory," and "profound." They also commended the team for "letting the story breathe enough to show how victims' experiences and perceptions are not all the same, and impact the way they cope over time."

NOLA.com | The Times Picayune received the Dart Award for “The Children of Central City,” a multifaceted multimedia project that tells the story of children from one neighborhood in New Orleans and the profound impacts of poverty, violence and trauma on their lives. (Project team: Jonathan Bullington, lead investigative reporter; Richard Webster, investigative reporter; Brett Duke, photographer; Emma Scott, video producer; and Haley Correll, digital producer.) This comprehensive series offers a ground-level view of the effects of violence on children and their families, showing not only the psychological toll on young souls, but also the success stories, and scarce resources that are available to help.

Judges described "The Children of Central City" as a "brilliant body of work" comprised of a "thoughtful mix of beautifully executed stories." They recognized the "tremendous thought and planning" that went into the project, and the "incredible level of trust" the reporters built with the community after initially encountering much skepticism. They commended the series for exploring the process of trauma treatment “without overstating or understating it,” and focusing on “community-led, not medicalized views of recovery.” They praised the team for "perfectly balancing the micro and macro," and called the series "what all community journalism should aspire to." 

Honorable mentions went to Radio Canada International – Eye on the Arctic for “Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change,” (Eilís Quinn, reporter and photographer; and Soleïman Mellali, editor) and The Star Tribune for “Denied Justice” (Project team: Brandon Stahl, reporter; Jennifer Bjorhus, reporter; Renee Jones Schneider, photographer; MaryJo Webster, data editor; Dave Hage, assignment editor; and Abby Simons, assignment editor.)

Radio Canada International – Eye on the Arctic received an honorable mention for “Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change,” which explores the violent death of Robert Adams, a 19-year old Inuit man in Arctic Canada, the impact his death is having on his community, and his father’s subsequent fight for mental health services, coroner’s services, and justice system services for Inuit in the North. Judges described “Death in the Arctic” as a "truly impressive reporting feat" offering "rare insight into an isolated, chronically ignored community."

The Star Tribune received an honorable mention for “Denied Justice,” a deeply reported multimedia project that explores the failure of Minnesota’s policing and courts to serve rape and sexual assault victims. Judges called “Denied Justice” an “exceedingly thorough investigative reporting triumph" that makes an "enormous contribution to public service."

The 2019 winners and honorable mention will be recognized at a public ceremony and winners' roundtable on May 1 at 5:30pm at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The event is free and open to the public.


The Atavist, “Trigger Effect”; Frontline Dispatch, “The Weight of Dust”; Guardian US and The Eagle Eye“Parkland School Shooting”; HBO, “We are Not Done Yet”; WNYC / New York Public Radio, “Caught -- Episode 8, I Want Someone to Love Me Even for a Second"; New York Times The Daily, “Lost in the Storm”; Tampa Bay Times, “Gang Raped at 17. Therapy at 65.”; Texas Tribune, “Families Divided”; Univision, “Nightmares of Selective Amnesia”​

The jury combines journalists, educators and mental health professionals.

Final Judges:

Ann Cooper, Professor Emerita, Columbia Journalism School; Melissa del Bosque, investigative reporter, ProPublica and 2015 Dart Award winner; John Woodrow Cox, enterprise reporter, The Washington Post and 2018 Dart Award winner; June Cross, documentary filmmaker and Professor, Columbia Journalism School; Ashley Gilbertson, photographer and writer; and Debra Kaysen, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, and President-elect, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

First Round Judges:

Elizabeth Aguilera, health and welfare reporter, CALmatters; Laila Al-Arian, Executive Producer, Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English; Gina Barton, investigative reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Samantha Broun, radio and multimedia producer, Managing Editor, Transom.org and 2017 Dart Award winner; Lisa Cohen, filmmaker and Director of Professional Prizes, Columbia Journalism School; Kerry Donahue, Director of Training, PRX.org; Marguerite Holloway, Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Director, Science & Environmental Journalism, Columbia Journalism School; Maggie Jones, contributing writer, New York Times Magazine; Azmat Khan, contributing writer, New York Times Magazine, James Madison Visiting Professor, Columbia Journalism School and 2018 Dart Award honorable mention; Peter Klein, Director, International Reporting Project; Jina Moore, freelance journalist; and Christopher Sherman, correspondent, Associated Press and 2016 Dart Award winner