The 2022 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award winners have been announced and the list includes a trio of podcasts. The winners include Stitcher’s 99% Invisible, Apple’s The Line, and Blindspot, a co-production of WNYC Studios, The History Channel and Oklahoma Public Radio. The awards also recognized the NPR radio show and podcast Planet Money.
Planet Money, won for its report “Waste Land,” an in-depth audio investigation into the oil industry and plastic recycling. In the episode, NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan and the team tracked down retired industry lobbyists to expose a decades-long marketing scam to convince consumers that plastic products are far more recyclable than they really are.
“It was remarkable for us to put together a story that told people the truth about recycling plastic,” said Sullivan. “This was a story that has stayed with all of us since we started reporting it. To win a duPont for it is something we never imagined.”
The team at 99% Invisible was honored for reporter Katie Mingle’s series According to Need that explored the explosion of homelessness in Oakland, CA where between 2015 and 2019 the rate of homelessness doubled.
“This podcast series gave listeners intimate access to the homeless and to the bureaucracy intended to help them, revealing a frustrating system with complex rules, inadequate resources, and little agreement about how to identify those most in need,” said the duPont judges.
Another winner is Blindspot. In its second season, the six-episode arc hosted by WNYC’s KalaLea told the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that left hundreds dead when the city’s thriving Greenwood District was attacked in one of the worst racial attacks in 20th Century American history.
The duPont judge said, “This immersive, deeply reported series depicting the biggest race massacre since the Civil War placed powerful eyewitness voices at the heart of a century-old narrative, and posed an urgent question: What would it take for history to stop repeating itself?”
“I would give up this award to reverse the events of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre,” said KalaLea. “If it never happened, we would all be better for it. But it’s not too late for some course correction and healing.”
The other podcast to receive duPont honors is The Line. The podcast, produced by Jigsaw Productions, was a companion to the Apple TV documentary series that told the story of how a group of Navy SEALs broke ranks in 2018 and accused their chief of murder.
“The Line is a fascinating, deeply reported podcast series that offered a reassessment of the events surrounding the war crimes trial of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher as well as a window into secretive culture of the SEALs and similar elite military units,” the duPont judges said.
“I hope all the journalists with doc projects ask big questions,” said Executive Producer Dan Taberski in his acceptance speech. “I hope you run and not walk to audio and podcasting as a medium with which to find the answers,” he said.
The Columbia Journalism School announced the 16 winners during a special virtual presentation on Wednesday night highlighting outstanding reporting in the public interest. The 2022 recipients featured ongoing critical coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, the January 6th attack on the Capitol, policing in America, and racial inequities, among other topics.
"Under these extraordinary circumstances, with reporters working remotely due to covid-related risks and restrictions, the 2022 winning stories are especially deserving of the recognition a coveted duPont Silver Baton brings,'' said duPont Director Lisa R. Cohen.
PBS led the evening with four wins. The duPont-Columbia Awards recognized two streaming services this year — Apple TV and Amazon Studios, both first time winners. Read the full list HERE.