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Dec. 17, 2007

Program Descriptions of 2008 duPont Winners

The following are descriptions of the winning programs based on jurorsí comments

CBS News for 60 Minutes: The Mother of All Heists
An investigative report on how half a billion dollars disappeared from the Iraqi Defense Ministry

This ground-breaking investigative report by correspondent Steve Kroft reveals massive high-level corruption in Iraq that allowed a least half a billion dollars to be wasted, lost or diverted into private pockets. Kroft and his team traveled to Paris, Poland and Jordan to discover what happened to the aid intended to rebuild Iraq and its military forces. They interviewed an assortment of arms dealers, bankers, money-changers, and even a chimney sweep. They found widespread waste on helicopters that would not fly, bulletproof vests that fell apart and other useless equipment purchased for the newly reconstituted Iraqi Army. The team uncovered photos and audio recordings implicating suspects who fled Iraq before Iraqi investigators could arrest them, and Coalition officials did little to help recover the missing money. 

Steve Kroft, correspondent; Andy Court, Keith Sharman, producers; Daniel J.Glucksman, editor; Amjad Tadros, field producer, CBS News Amman; Tadd Lascari, Jonathan Schienberg, broadcast associates; Jan Morgan, Jurgen Neumann, camera; Rowland Fowles, Luigi Giuliani, sound; CBS News Baghdad Bureau, additional reporting and translation; Michael R. Whitney, senior broadcast producer; Patti Hassler, executive editor; Jeff Fager, executive producer; Sean McManus, president, CBS News

Chicago Public Radio, Alix Spiegel & PRI for This American Life: Which One of These Is Not Like the Others?
A parable about the disintegration of an assimilated Muslim family in New Jersey who faced discrimination after 9/11

This moving radio program brings the destructive and corrosive consequences of intolerance into vivid relief through the story of a Muslim family in New Jersey. The father, a Palestinian from the West Bank, and the mother, an American-born Muslim, cope with vandalism and the sudden ostracizing of their popular daughter, a 4th grader, following 9/11. Through subtle interviews and narration, reporter Alix Spiegel helps these characters reflect on their experiences as they endure isolation and discrimination by their neighbors, their children’s teachers and friends. 

Alix Spiegel, reporter; Diane Cook, producer; Julie Snyder, senior producer; Ira Glass, executive producer; produced by Chicago Public Radio; distributed by Public Radio International

Florentine Films/Hott Productions & WETA-TV, Washington, D.C. for Through Deaf Eyes on PBS
A two-hour documentary on the history of and conflicts in the deaf community in America

Covering 200 years of the history of deaf culture in the United States, this documentary is full of surprising facts and little-known controversies about deafness. The central focus is on the civil rights of Americans who cannot hear, and the program gives voice to a diverse culture that argues about educational strategies and the ramifications of technological advances designed for the deaf. As it probes public attitudes and prejudices, the program draws on inventive and often witty techniques, showcasing a deaf comedian, films by deaf filmmakers, and a rock band of deaf musicians. This is an outstanding example of how television can teach and inspire as it chronicles the evolution of deaf people in the U.S. from isolation to community and their empowerment as a political force.

Lawrence Hott, Diane Garey, producers; Ken Chowder, writer; Stockard Channing, narrator; Diane Garey, editor; Allen Moore, Michael Chin, Stephen McCarthy, cinematographers; Amit Sethi, animation and graphics; Judy Hyman, Jeff Claus, music; Jean Bergey, project director, Gallaudet University; Harry Lang, senior project advisor; Karen Kenton, Dalton Delan, executive producers; Sharon Rockefeller, president, WETA

HBO, Ricki Stern & Annie Sundberg for The Trials of Darryl Hunt
A two-hour documentary about the wrongful conviction and 20-year imprisonment of Darryl Hunt and the effort to exonerate him through DNA evidence

This insightful and emotional documentary is the result of the persistence of two young independent filmmakers who followed the story of a terrible miscarriage of justice in North Carolina for ten years. The journalists painstakingly re-examine the 1984 rape and murder of a white woman in Winston-Salem and the subsequent conviction of an African-American 19-year-old named Darryl Hunt. During two decades of imprisonment, his supporters and his attorney maintained their belief in Hunt’s innocence, bringing compelling new evidence to trial that repeatedly failed to overturn his conviction. This story of a single murder case is emblematic of wider problems in the criminal justice system, especially in its focus on the faulty testimony of an eyewitness, the impact of racism, and the use of DNA evidence.

Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg, directors, executive producers;  Katie Brown, William Rexer II, Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg, producers; Shannon Kennedy, editor; William Rexer II, cinematographer; John Foster, Alan Jacobson, Shannon Kennedy, additional cinematography and digital video; Paul Brill, original score; Brad Bergbom, sound editor; Nancy Abraham, supervising producer, HBO; Sheila Nevins, executive producer, HBO

KHOU-TV, Houston for Rules of the Game
One brief investigative report on an unusual aspect of Texas law that allows prosecutors to withhold evidence from the defense before trial

This powerful six-minute report is a model of investigative reporting by a local station. It reveals a local loop-hole in one of the  basic principles of American justice — the right of defendants to all evidence against them before trial. Reporter Jeremy Rogalski details how the law in some Texas counties, unlike most places in the U.S., allows prosecutors to withhold pre-trial evidence from the defense. The story builds steadily, making a persuasive case about how damaging, uneven and unfair this common and perfectly legal practice is. The report reveals how prosecutors withhold evidence in police, eyewitness and lab reports, sometimes resulting in wrongful convictions and long prison terms. 

Jeremy Rogalski, reporter; Chris Henao, producer; Keith Tomshe, photojournalist and editor; David Raziq, executive producer for investigative reporting; Keith Connors, news director

KMOV-TV, St. Louis for Left Behind: The Failure of East St. Louis Schools
A series of reports examining the chronic failure of schools in East St. Louis, Ill., to educate children with special needs

Through the relentless reporting of Craig Cheatham, KMOV-TV covers many aspects of the chronic problems in East St. Louis schools, especially the system’s failure to provide special education services. Through more than a dozen stories and one special program, the series demonstrates how a local station can thoroughly and persistently cover the most downtrodden parts of its community, giving voice to the voiceless.

Craig Cheatham, reporter; Gary Womack, photographer and editor; Genie Garner, acting news director

KNOE-TV, Monroe, Louisiana for Names, Ranks and Serial Plunder: The National Guard and Katrina
A four-part investigation of members of the Louisiana National Guard who looted while on duty after Hurricane Katrina

Following a four-month investigation, KNOE aired these four powerful reports a year after a National Guard unit from the Monroe area was sent to patrol devastated neighborhoods in New Orleans. The reports build on enterprising interviews with members of the National Guard who witnessed soldiers and officers taking guns, tools and other items from evacuated stores. The series uncovered secret court martial records and state police investigations, indicating that Guard members had been disciplined and allowed to resign.  The series led to a Pentagon review and a reorganization of the Louisiana National Guard.

Taylor Henry, producer, reporter, writer; Jennifer Townley, Tom Cole, video editors; John Denison, graphics designer; Richard Sommers, assistant producer; Jack Dietle, Ed Rowan, Michael Tuberville, Jerry Hester, photographers; Taylor Henry, news director; Roy Frostenson, executive producer

MSNBC & Richard Engel for War Zone Diary
A reflective chronicle based on Richard Engel’s reports in Iraq

This long-form report, told through the eyes and camcorder of NBC’s Middle East correspondent Richard Engel, examines the everyday realities of the war in Iraq. From his first reports in 2003 as a freelancer, Engel’s long tenure in the war zone enables him to tell an evolving story from a personal perspective. He recounts his difficult living conditions and his personal security measures, along with reporting on how the Iraqis react to the arrival of American troops and the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Fluent in Arabic, Engel takes viewers through the toll the war has taken on the soldiers, the Iraqis and finally on himself, including his most exciting days and his darkest moments.

Richard Engel, reporter; Madeleine Haeringer, producer; Elizabeth Ruksznis, associate producer; Carrie Wysocki, director; Linda Diehl, Beverly Chase, editors; Bredun Edwards, Steve O’Neill, Kevin Burke, Richard Engel, camera; Jody Sugrue, motion graphics artist; Gordon Miller, music, Judith Greenberg, Sharon Hoffman, senior producers; Scott Hooker, senior executive producer; Michael Rubin, vice-president of long-form programming, Steve Capus, president, NBC News

NBC News for Dateline: The Education of Ms. Groves
One episode of Dateline that follows a year in the life of a middle school teacher who joins Teach for America in Atlanta

NBC’s Dateline team gained remarkable access to an inner-city middle school in Atlanta to explore the national issue of No Child Left Behind. The focus is on Monica Groves, a graduate of the University of Virginia and a rookie with the Teach for America program. As the documentary team follows this gifted young teacher throughout the year, all the issues of urban education are laid out — commitment, heartache, lack of resources and the power of teachers to change lives. Correspondent Hoda Kotb’s sensitive interviewing illuminates the emotional stories of Ms. Groves and three key students who are the center of this hour-long program. The result is a thoroughly engrossing broadcast that captures the challenge of educating American children.

Hoda Kotb, correspondent; Izhar Harpaz, Shayla Harris, producers; Ellen Mason, senior producer; Deanna DiMuro, Serene Fang, Henning Fog, Sarah Gregory, associate producers; Tyrone Edwards, Mike Epstein, Roger Herr, Gilberto Nobrega, Fred Schuh, camera; Francisco Bido, editor; Liz Cole, executive editor; David Corvo, executive producer; Steve Capus, president, NBC News

NPR & Daniel Zwerdling for Mental Anguish and the Military
A series of penetrating reports on the psychological health of Iraq War veterans at Fort Carson, Colorado, and the impact of post-traumatic stress injury on the military community

In a six-part series that aired on various NPR news programs, reporter Daniel Zwerdling uncovers the problems of many soldiers returning from Iraq with serious psychiatric post-traumatic stress injuries. Unlike veterans with physical traumas, the soldiers with psychiatric injuries were often denied help by the military and treated as malcontents or cowards. Some were jailed, court-martialed or discharged. Zwerdling pressed superior officers for explanations, and his interviews with officers show their attitudes range from contempt to indifference to suspicion of their soldiers. These reports centered on Fort Collins in Colorado, but they precipitated a wave of government investigations and other media reports, helping to make the emotional wounds of the Iraq war a national issue.

Daniel Zwerdling, correspondent; Anne Hawke, producer; Ellen Weiss, vice president, news, NPR

Paladin Invision, London, & WETA, Washington, DC for Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaeda on PBS
A two-hour historical examination of the evolution of extremist Islamist doctrine
and the roots of conflict with the West
                                                                                   
Independent producer William Cran and his team achieve an insightful tour de force for television examining the complex ideas behind Islam that motivate Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks. Traveling for two years throughout the Middle East, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Britain and the U.S., the program achieves a high level of intellectual discourse through interviews with experts enriched by elaborate production values. The narrative and historical footage are flawlessly drawn together, along with insights from those inside the Islamist movement, including Osama bin Laden. 

William Cran, writer, producer and director; Adam Lively, co-producer and co-writer; Robert MacNeil, narrator; Allen Charlton, Joe Frost, editors; Sue Temple, production executive; Catharine Alen-Buckley, line producer; Clive Syddall, executive producer, Paladin Invision; Leo Eaton, series producer; Jeff Bieber, Dalton Delan executive producers; Sharon Rockefeller, president, WETA

WBBM-TV, Chicago for Fly At Your Own Risk    
A series of investigative reports on lax security practices by security contractors and cleaning companies at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

This six-part investigative series began with a tip from a flight attendant that cleaning subcontractors instead of security agents were brought in to check out a threat to a United Airlines flight so that the plane’s departure would not be delayed. In the analysis that followed, reporter Dave Savini discovered many lax security procedures including virtually unrestricted airport access for cleaning companies with high employee turnover. Savini and producer Michele Youngerman eventually documented that 3,760 active aviation security badges had been missing since 2004. These badges were the only identification needed by law enforcement officials, baggage handlers, pilots, flight attendants, and independent contractors to enter Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. WBBM-TV’s series led to investigations by the Transportation Safety Administration, the Illinois State Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

Dave Savini, reporter; Michele Youngerman, producer; Mike Klingele, Bond Li, and Jerry Pedroza, photographers and editors; Marda LeBeau, executive producer; Carol Fowler, vice president and director of news; Joe Ahern, president and general manager

WFAA-TV, Dallas, for Television Justice
A series of reports on how the local police in Murphy, Tx., collaborated in the sting operations of NBC’s Dateline: To Catch A Predator program

These three intriguing reports explore the intersection of media and justice. WFAA-TV’s investigative reporter Byron Harris and his team broke this story about how the Murphy, Texas, police department commingled law enforcement with television production for the NBC Dateline reality television series To Catch a Predator. The station started this series after a local Texas district attorney committed suicide. The investigation turned up problems of police cooperation with the Predator crew in scouting locations of possible Internet sex predators; law enforcement professionals wearing television cameras for the Predator crew; and many prosecutions that never resulted in convictions. This is an old-fashioned gum-shoe investigation in the era of Internet sex and reality television, conducted with restraint and methodical reporting.

Byron Harris, reporter; Mark Smith, producer; Kraig Kirchem, photographer and editor; Dave Arnold, additional photography; Michael Valentine, news director

 duPont Jury Composition:

  • Ann K. Cooper, jury chairman and Columbia Journalism School's broadcast program coordinator
  • Philip S. Balboni, president and founder, New England Cable News
  • Roberta Baskin, investigative reporter for WJLA-TV, Washington, D.C., and former network correspondent and producer for CBS, ABC and NOW with Bill Moyers
  • Callie Crossley, media critic, Beat the Press, WGBH-TV, Boston; program manager, Nieman Foundation; former producer, ABC News and the PBS series Eyes on the Prize
  • John Dinges, associate professor, Columbia Journalism School, and former editorial director, NPR
  • Cinny Kennard, manager of NPR's West Coast Production Center and former CBS News correspondent and reporter for WFAA-TV, Dallas
  • John Martin, former correspondent, ABC News, and adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School
  • Al Tompkins, broadcast/online group leader, Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida; former local station news director, producer and reporter
  • Bill Wheatley, retired vice president, NBC News