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Covering Coronavirus: Advice for video journalists

Editor’s Note: Edward Lawrence has been covering the coronavirus story on the ground in China since January, including a trip onto China’s frontline: Hubei province on lockdown. Here, he has outlined some of his thoughts on the challenges of reporting amid the pandemic, and the precautions that he and his team have been taking.

The Quiet Rooms

An investigation into the violation of a decades-old Illinois law meant to protect students from being physically restrained or locked away in stark rooms as punishment. Judges described “The Quiet Rooms” as “a tour de force of investigative reporting and accountability journalism.” They called it "exhaustive," "fair," and "outstanding from all angles," applauding the “use of testimony from the protagonists in seclusion" and "situating the issue in both a state context and broader national context." Originally published by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune between November and December 2019.

Syria Torture Survivors Seek Justice

A series of stories focusing on those speaking out to bring justice in European courts for a regime accused of war crimes. Judges called the series “a case study in thorough, humane, and complete reporting.” They applauded Amos for “swiftly and skillfully relating the background and current situation of each person she profiles, describing but not lingering on the traumatic situations they have endured, and then focusing on their resilience and the action to which their personal histories have spurred them." Originally broadcasted by NPR on September 24, 2019.

Troubled kids, troubled system

A hard-hitting investigation into residential schools for at-risk children across the state of Montana. Judges commended the “depth of reporting” and “incredible commitment on the part of a small newsroom to revisit a persistent problem concerning the on-going, unrelenting abuse of children despite claims that it had been addressed years earlier." Originally published by the Missoulian between January and November 2019.

How Does the Human Soul Survive Atrocity?

This story focuses on psychologist Jan Kizilhan, a German of Kurdish Yazidi origin, and recent graduates of his program in Psychotraumatology at the University of Duhok, Iraq who are working with Yazidi children returning to their families after years in ISIS captivity. Judges called the piece “explanatory reporting at its best,” and praised the “equally matched excellence of the writing and photography.” They noted the “lean narrative style that builds momentum with deft pacing and layering of personal and contextual details,” and the “use of different visual techniques to convey in a metaphorical way the emotional inner turmoil of the children.” Originally published in the New York Times Magazine on October 31, 2019.

Case Closed

This multipart series focuses on rape survivor Sandi Fedor’s efforts to track down the serial rapist who attacked her as she discovers that her trust has been betrayed by the indifference of an historically under-resourced Cleveland Police sex crimes unit. Judges praised the team for “successfully intertwining a visceral survivor’s point of view narrative with traditional investigative reporting.” They said the series “meticulously documents with photographs, video clips, audio recordings, public records, police documents, and prior investigative reporting” a “pattern of systemic police department failure dating back decades” which “enabled serial offenders like the man who attacked Sandi Fedor to evade justice for years.” Originally published in the Plain Dealer on September 29, 2019.

2020 Dart Award Finalists

This year's Dart Awards went to The Plain Dealer for "Case Closed" and to The New York Times Magazine for "How Does the Human Soul Survive Atrocity?"; Honorable mentions went to NPR, Chicago Tribune / ProPublica Illinois, and The Missoulian.

The following seven pieces were finalists: AP "In Opioids Wake"; Frontline, "The Last Survivors"; Mother Jones, "When Your Rape Doesn't Count"; New York Times, "Inside Syria's Secret Torture Prisons"; NPR, "Life After ISIS, The Struggle and Survival of Yazidis"; Reveal, "Five Years on Nauru"; STAT, "Their baby died during his nap. Then medical bureaucrats deepened the parents' anguish."

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