PBS, Radiolab, Lead Winners of 2021 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Awards

PBS won four prizes in the 2021 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Awards, an annual recognition of some of the best work in the reaml of audio and video journalism. Radiolab won two of the contest’s coveted silver batons, and other winners included NBC News, Vice and and Netflix.

Fifteen honorees were named Tuesday evening in a ceremony that was made available via PBS’ digital venues. The event was hosted by Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor, and Michele Norris, the Washington Post opinion columnist, in an hour-long presentation. Special guest presenters included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Professor Jelani Cobb and 2019 duPont winner Mariska Hargitay

For the first time, the duPont jury selected 30 finalists, who were announced in November 2020.

“Courageously documenting the turbulent events of 2020, journalists performed a critical public service by reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice, the role of the internet in our
politics, and much more,” said Cheryl Gould, duPont Jury Chair and a former NBC News executive, in a prepared statement.  “We are proud to honor these duPont winners and finalists for their outstanding work and their commitment to fact-finding and truth-telling in these unsettled times.”

Two prizes were awarded for reporting on the coronavirus epidemic, one to PBS’ “NOVA” and the other to New York station WNBC. Two stories about mental illness were also honored, one from PBS’ “Independent Lens” and one from NBC News Digital.. “Vice on Showtime” won a silver baton for presenting eyewitness reporting on the increasingly harsh treatment of Muslims in India.

Three podcasts won prizes, including two from WNYC’s Radiolab — a first time winner — that was honored for “The Flag and The Fury” and “The Other Latif.” Radiotopia’s Ear Hustle podcast about life inside San Quentin prison also won a duPont.

Four local television stations were honored, including KSTP in Minneapolis for breaking-news coverage of the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath, and WFAA in Dallas for coverage of climate change.

Several longform presentations won prizes. “Crip Camp” on Netflix focused on the history of the disability movement. “Bedlam” on PBS’ “Independent Lens” examined challenges facing the mentally ill. “For Sama,” on PBS’ “Frontline,” looked at one woman’s experience during the war in Syria, while “Chasing the Moon” on PBS’ “American Experience,” centered on the space race.

Some winners showed how journalists adapted to new technologies.  The Washington Post’s “Lafayette Reconstruction” used forensic reporting to digitally reconstruct last year’s violent clearing of Lafayette Park, and NBC News Digital’s online documentary “A Different Kind of Force — Policing Mental Illness” detailed the strained relationship between law enforcement and the mentally ill. Seattle’s KING produced a touching documentary, “Bob’s Choice,” about the right to die, for YouTube instead of broadcast.

The duPont-Columbia Awards were founded in 1942.