Updated: Apr 18
By: REYNA IWAMOTO / MANAGING EDITOR
On Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, the LIU Polk School of Communications announced the 2022 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Among the recipients are reporters who covered the war in Ukraine; unveiled the false motives of former cryptocurrency empire FTX; revealed irregularities in a renowned neuroscientist and university president’s research; examined the illegal exploitation of the Amazon rainforest; and published a leak of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“We were deluged with so many worthwhile entries, it was difficult to choose among them,” said John Darnton, curator of the awards.
Receiving a total of 515 submissions, the Polk Awards committee had to narrow down these nominations within 15 categories for reporting.
“Interestingly, a lot of reporters went after large, thematic stories, like the role of private equity companies in buying up hospitals, private homes and apartment complexes,” Darnton said. “And the war in Ukraine produced superb war reporting, done at great peril.”
The George Polk Awards, established in 1949 by LIU, were created to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the civil war in Greece. The awards honor special achievement in journalism, focusing on the “intrepid, bold, and influential work of the reporters themselves, placing a premium on investigative work.”
“Long Island University is pleased to recognize this year’s George Polk Award winners for exceptional work that will be remembered over the course of history,” LIU President Kimberly Cline said.
Eric Krasnoff, the LIU Board of Trustees Chair said that the Polk Awards continue a “rich tradition” at LIU, honoring “journalistic excellence that continues to support equity and truth as pillars of a democratic society.” “LIU is humbled to help curate these awards that celebrate achievements built on a firm foundation of integrity and bravery,” Krasnoff said.
Nominated by reporters, news organizations, members of the public, or recommended by a panel of advisors, the 2022 winners exemplify fearless reporting and a commitment to uncovering matters of critical importance.
The New York Times received three awards: the prize for foreign reporting in Ukraine for its daily reporting on the war, a feature by Roger Cohen on President Vladimir Putin’s “22-year slide from statesman to tyrant” in Russia, and a two-month long investigation that revealed Russia’s military as ill-prepared and badly managed; the education reporting award for work by Eliza Shapiro and Brian M. Rosenthal that exposed how private schools in New York’s Hasidic Jewish community were failing to provide students with a basic education despite receiving more than a quarter of a billion dollars in funding annually, and the photojournalism award for Lynsey Addario’s photo that captured the horrors of war in Ukraine.
The war reporting award was presented to video journalist Mstyslav Chernov, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, video producer Vasilisa Stepanenko and reporter Lori Hinnant from the Associated Press for their reporting on horrific narratives and images from Mariupol, Ukraine. Chernov, Maloletka and Stepanenko were the only reporters from a Western news outlet in the besieged city when the bombing began, and Ukrainian authorities credited the AP reporting with saving many lives by helping to open a humanitarian corridor for fleeing people.
Journalists from Reuters received the state reporting award for uncovering the widespread use of migrant children for illegal labor at auto-part factories and poultry slaughterhouses. Joshua Schneyer, Mica Rosenburg and Kristina Cooke investigated in “Undocumented and Underage” the details of the staffing agencies who profited from using fake documentation of migrant children as young as 12, to work while being subjected to abuse.
Josh Gerstein, Alex Ward, Peter Canellos and the staff of Politico received the national reporting award for their work revealing a rare leak from the U.S. Supreme Court: Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Politico continued its reporting with stories examining ethics and external influences on Supreme Court justices.
The local reporting award was given to John Archibald, Ashley Remkus and Ramsey Archibald of the website AL.com for their investigation into how the police in Brookside, Alabama targeted poorer residents, increasing traffic citations and vehicle seizures, resulting in a 640%-increase in town revenue for over two years.
The award for health reporting was presented to Kendall Taggart, John Templon, Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News for their work detailing the dire conditions of homes purchased by private equity firm, KKR, for people with severe disabilities.
Ian Allison and Tracy Wang of the digital currency news source CoinDesk, won the financial reporting award for exposing suspicious dealings between Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto currency empire FTX and Alameda Research, an investigation that would set in motion the implosion of both firms.
The environmental reporting honor was awarded to Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post for his six-part series, “The Amazon, Undone.” McCoy’s work examined the illegal exploitation of the Amazon rainforest and highlighted how Brazil’s failure to protect this global resource pushed it near the point of irreversible destruction.
ProPublica reporter Brett Murphy received the justice reporting award for his report that investigated the “911 call analysis,” a technique developed by a retired police chief that claims to assess a caller’s guilt based on their speech patterns during the call. Despite overwhelming evidence that this technique was not accurate, Murphy reported that in more than 100 cases in 26 states, “experts” used this technique against criminal defendants.
Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Ana Ceballos, Mary Ellen Klas, and the staff of the Miami Herald won the award for political reporting for their work exposing how South American refugees were lured onto two flights that took them from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, under the direction of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The foreign television award went to Correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Senior Producer Kavitha Chekuru and Executive Producer Laila Al-Arian for “The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” a segment on Al Jazeera English’s Fault Lines program. The team examined the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of Israeli Defense Forces while she was reporting in the West Bank city of Jenin.
The national television reporting award went to Shimon Prokupecz and his CNN crew for their coverage of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Through recorded evidence and interviews with survivors and relatives of the 19 children and two teachers who died, Prokupecz and his team’s work demonstrated that law enforcement’s inexplicable delay of over an hour in challenging the gunman probably cost lives.
The Sydney H. Schanberg prize honors long-form investigative journalism, and was awarded to freelance journalist Alex Perry, an American-born British war correspondent who reported on a 2021 ISIS attack in a remote town in Mozambique for Outside Magazine. Established in 2022 by journalist Jane Freiman Schanberg to honor her late husband, the Schanberg Prize honors enterprise journalism “that results from staying with a story, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice.”
A special award was also given to Theo Baker, a student at Stanford University and a reporter for the Stanford Daily, who revealed allegations that pioneering research co-written by Stanford University’s President and renowned neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne, contained manipulated imagery. Baker, who is the son of two journalists, Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan B. Glassier of the New Yorker, is now the youngest recipient of a Polk Award at just 18 years old.
“The fearless work of these distinguished journalists proves that diligent reporting will always have the power to affect positive change throughout the world.” LIU President Cline said.
The 2022 George Polk Award winners will be honored on Friday, April 14 at a luncheon ceremony at the New York Athletic Club. This ceremony will follow an evening seminar on April 13 on LIU Brooklyn’s campus of “When Covering War Gets Personal,” allowing several winners to delve more deeply into their stories.