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Dec. 17, 2007

Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University 2008 News Awards
Honor 13 Broadcast Programs

Award-winning Coverage Will Be Featured in Annual PBS Documentary
Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism premiering Jan. 28th

The duPont Silver Baton

The duPont Award Silver Baton

Columbia University today announced 13 winners of the 2008 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism. Chosen from a pool of 510 radio and television news entries that aired in the United States between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, the award-winning journalists will be presented with the duPont silver baton on Jan. 16th, 2008, at Columbia University. 

This year’s award-winning entries include a reflective radio piece by This American Life on the discrimination endured by a Muslim family in New Jersey, as well as a probing 60 Minutes investigation of the failure of the Iraqi government, the American government and its allies to ensure that half a billion dollars was responsibly spent to rebuild the war-torn nation. Other highlights of this year’s awardees include a hard-hitting series of investigative reports from Chicago’s CBS station, WBBM-TV, about lax security at O’Hare airport; PBS’s examination of the ideas that drive Al Qaeda; and an intimate video diary on MSNBC by a long-time correspondent in Iraq.

The 13 award winners

Click on each winner below for descriptions of each project:

duPont jury members

CNN's Christiane Amanpour, a former duPont awardee, will interview several of the duPont winners in the PBS special program Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism, premiering Jan. 28. This program, an annual feature on public television stations, will include excerpts of the winning programs and explore how journalists outsmart the blizzard of spin, the limitations of newsroom budgets, and the logistics of travel to dangerous locations. The program is produced by Martin Smith and Margarita Dragon of RAINmedia.

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Journalism School at Columbia, said, “It is an honor for Columbia to be the home of the duPont Awards and to celebrate each year the award-winning coverage of outstanding journalists. Their work is an inspiration to our students and to all journalists, and plays a pivotal role in our democracy.”

Ann Cooper, coordinator of the broadcast department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former duPont winner as a foreign correspondent for NPR, chairs the duPont Jury. She said, “This year’s duPont winners are testimony to the continuing strength of intelligent reporting and investigative journalism throughout American broadcast media. They represent the very finest, most informative work from small local stations to national networks.”

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards honoring overall excellence in broadcast journalism were established in 1942 by Jessie Ball duPont in memory of her husband, Alfred I. duPont. With his cousins, Mr. duPont transformed their gunpowder company into the chemical company E.I. duPont de Nemours. He later created a successful financial institution in Florida and was owner of a chain of small-town newspapers in Delaware. The duPont Awards, administered since 1968 by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, are considered the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, which are also administered at the Journalism School.

Award winners receive batons designed by the late American architect Louis I. Kahn. The batons are inscribed with the famous observation about the power of television by the late Edward R. Murrow: "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box." (Excerpted from Murrow’s address to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Chicago, Oct. 15, 1958.)

Photo Courtesy of the Columbia Journalism School