Two public broadcasting collaborations have won prestigious Polk awards for their news projects. Frontline, ProPublica and the Times-Picayune of New Orleans won the Polk for television reporting, and NPR and ProPublica won for radio.
In a release, presenter Long Island University called the “Law & Disorder” Frontline collaboration “monumental.” The reporting partners looked at the often brutal actions taken by the New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, investigating charges that officers shot at 10 persons and killed four. The project revealed that law-enforcement commanders issued orders to ignore long-established rules governing use of deadly force. C. Thompson of ProPublica; Frontline Senior Series Producer Raney Aronson-Rath and Producer Tom Jennings; and Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy of the Times-Picayune will be honored.
The Polk radio reporting award goes to another collaboration, by NPR and ProPublica, which found the U.S. military was not adequately diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries suffered by soldiers. Honored for “Brain Wars” are T. Christian Miller of ProPublica, NPR Correspondent Daniel Zwerdling, and NPR Deputy Managing Editor of Investigations Susanne Reber. The project showed that the military medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in tens of thousands of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many veterans receiving little or no treatment for lingering health effects. Their investigation found that some 40 percent of soldiers suffering from concussions were not receiving a correct diagnosis from military doctors.
The awards, seen within the news industry as rivaling Pulitzers in their importance, were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war. The honors will be presented at a luncheon April 7 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.