LIU's Esteemed George Polk Awards Honor Influential Work of Investigative Reporters Worldwide

Submissions Now Open for 2015 Competition

Nov 18, 2015, 10:00 ET from Long Island University

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The George Polk Awards, established by Long Island University (LIU) in 1949, acknowledging excellence in journalism, were established to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was killed while covering the Greek Civil War. The awards, presented annually, recognize the courage, determination, and intrepid work of reporters and communicators who expose and uncover matters of critical importance that enlighten, raise debate, and often rattle complacency. John Darnton, a 40-year veteran editor, reporter, and foreign correspondent for The New York Times, and two-time Polk Award recipient, curates the awards.

Winners in a dozen, constantly evolving categories are named each year from among hundreds of entries referred by a panel of advisors and submitted by reporters or their news organizations. They are chosen from newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and online news affiliates that range from small-town publications to major international news outlets, as well as non-traditional news sources such as nonprofit organizations.

The competition, in its 67th year, is now accepting nominations for outstanding investigative journalism in 2015. Nominations will be accepted through January 8, 2016 and may be submitted by news organizations, reporters, other members of the media, and the public.

The Polk Awards advisory committee, educators, and communications professionals who are members of LIU's distinguished faculty and alumni conduct the final review and determine the award-winning selections. The 2015 awards will be conferred at an event held in New York City on April 8, 2016.

"It's been a major year for news, much of it bad," said Darnton. "Abroad we've seen the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the spread of ISIS, a newly aggressive Russia, the Greek bailout, the Iran nuclear treaty and the migrant crisis. At home, we've had the Charleston church killings, confrontations between the police and African-Americans and of course the unpredictable start of the election season. More than ever, we expect to pour over the stories and try to figure out which news organizations dug behind the headlines to tell us not just what happened but why."

Over its 67-year history, scores of journalism giants have won Polk Awards. Diane Sawyer, Walter Cronkite, Christiane Amanpour, and Edward R. Murrow are among the celebrated broadcasters who have been recognized, while reporters from the ranks of smaller market papers in Fargo, North Dakota, and Des Moines, Iowa, share honors with high-profile journalists like the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, The New York Times' James Reston, and the New York Daily News' Pete Hamill.

"LIU is proud of its near 70-year tradition of engaging the most influential contributors to print, broadcast, and online communications through the George Polk Awards, " said Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of LIU. "Through their skills and tenacity, journalists provide portals into the essence of the people and events that command attention, allowing their audiences and readers to observe and assess the world." 

Among last year's winners was Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times, who received the 2014 George Polk Award for International Reporting for "Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror," an explosive account of how European nations secretly paid millions of dollars to ransom more than a dozen hostages held by the Islamic State. The kidnapping-for-ransom business model was perfected by Al-Qaeda, whose principal source of income is now from ransoms. Callimachi developed the story from documents she found in Timbuktu in 2013 while on assignment from the Associated Press, revealing a major schism between the policies of the United States and United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.

Four reporters at The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina—Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes, and Natalie Caula Hauff—received the 2014 George Polk Award for State Reporting for "Till Death Do Us Part," a five-part series on the domestic abuse deaths of 300 women in the past decade—one every 12 days. They uncovered a culture of violence in South Carolina, where male abusers face a maximum of 30 days in jail for brutalizing a woman but up to five years in prison for cruelty to a dog. The state has 65 county animal shelters but just 18 safe houses for battered women. The Post and Courier's reporting began after the Violence Police Center called South Carolina's rate of male-on-female homicides the worst in the nation. Their work evoked a strong response from state political leaders vowing reforms. The Center for Investigative Reporting consulted on and provided funding for this project.

Garry Trudeau, who has cut political pretension down to the size of his Doonesbury comic strip for 45 years, was the 33rd recipient of the George Polk Career Award and the first cartoonist to be honored. Four other cartoonists — Jules Feiffer (1961), David Levine (1965), Jeff MacNelly (1977) and Edward Sorel (1980)— have also been cited for their work in specific years.

To submit entries online for the 2015 George Polk Awards, visit

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SOURCE Long Island University