The New York Times Wins 3 Polk Awards

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The New York Times on Monday won three George Polk awards, including two for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. The prizes were among the five that honored journalism on that conflict and the war in Ukraine.

Long Island University, the home of the journalism awards, announced the winners in 13 categories, which were selected from 497 submissions of work done in 2023.

“As horrific as the outbreak of war in the Middle East and the ongoing fighting in Ukraine were, they provided us with no shortage of magnificent reporting, done at great peril, from which to choose,” John Darnton, the longtime Polk Awards curator, said in a statement.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Polk Awards, which will be celebrated with an event in April inviting all past recipients. Sixteen will be honored as George Polk career laureates, including Dean Baquet, a former New York Times executive editor; Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer at The Times Magazine; Christiane Amanpour, the CNN chief international correspondent; and the former Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron. The awards are named for the CBS journalist George Polk, who was killed in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

The staff of The New York Times was awarded the foreign reporting prize for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, which included extensive reporting on Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel’s aggressive military response in Gaza. Times reporters showed that Israel had known of Hamas’s plan of attack for more than a year but ignored warnings and was ill-prepared.

Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud of The Times won the award for photojournalism for their photographs of the conflict from inside Gaza, capturing the horrific toll of Israel’s airstrikes on civilians, including the death and injury of many children.

The Times also shared a prize for podcasting. Daniel Guillemette of Serial Productions, owned by The Times, along with Meribah Knight of WPLN Nashville and Ken Armstrong of ProPublica were awarded for their four-part podcast, “The Kids of Rutherford County.” The series explored how hundreds, and possibly thousands, of children were illegally jailed in Tennessee, a practice overseen by a powerful judge that had gone unchecked for more than a decade.

The national reporting prize went to Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, Alex Mierjeski, Brett Murphy and the staff of ProPublica for revealing the lavish gifts and luxury trips given to Justice Clarence Thomas by a billionaire Republican donor, Harlan Crow. The ProPublica team also examined other relationships between Supreme Court justices and influential benefactors and the ethical questions they raised.

Jesse Coburn, a reporter for Streetsblog NYC, a nonprofit, won the local reporting award for a seven-month investigation into New York City’s underground market of temporary license plates that drivers use to dodge tolls and tickets and evade accountability for more serious crimes.

The state reporting award went to Chris Osher and Julia Cardi of The Gazette, a Colorado Springs newspaper. The pair examined Colorado’s child custody system, showing that advice from unqualified parental evaluators had led to four deaths of young children. Their reporting prompted changes in state legislation and a criminal investigation by the Colorado attorney general’s office.

The staff of Reuters won the business reporting prize for investigations into companies owned by Elon Musk, which revealed a series of workplace injuries as well as a death at SpaceX, the mistreatment of laboratory animals at Neuralink and deception over chronic vehicle failures at Tesla.

The medical reporting award was given to two different entries. Anna Werner at CBS News, along with the KFF Health News reporters Brett Kelman, Fred Schulte, Holly K. Hacker and Daniel Chang, won for “When Medical Devices Malfunction,” a yearlong investigation into medical devices such as hip implants and heart pumps that the Food and Drug Administration had designated as safe but are suspected of contributing to patient injury and death.

Michael D. Sallah, Michael Korsh and Evan Robinson-Johnson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, along with ProPublica’s Debbie Cenziper, won the medical reporting award, for the series “With Every Breath,” which revealed that Philips Respironics, which makes popular breathing machines, continued marketing its products for years despite internal warnings of a dangerous defect.

Brian Howey won the justice reporting prize for his investigation into a practice by the California police of collecting information from families of people killed by the police before the relatives were told of the death. The exposé, which Mr. Howey started as a student at the University of California, Berkeley’s investigative reporting program, was published by The Los Angeles Times and developed into part of a podcast by Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Luke Mogelson of The New Yorker was awarded the magazine reporting prize for “Two Weeks at the Front in Ukraine,” his account of the war from the trenches, where he embedded with a Ukrainian battalion in the Donbas. The television reporting award went to Julia Steers and Amel Guettatfi of Vice News for their coverage of Russian Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine and the Central African Republic.

The New Yorker writer Masha Gessen won the commentary prize for the essay “In the Shadow of the Holocaust,” which examined German Holocaust memory and compared the situation in Gaza to the Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The Sydney Schanberg Prize in long-form journalism was awarded to Jason Motlagh of Rolling Stone, who embedded with rival gang lords in Haiti to cover the brutal gang war that is forcing thousands of Haitians to flee the country as it spirals into violence and lawlessness.

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