The George Polk Awards in Journalism are a series of prestigious American journalism awards presented annually by Long Island University in New York in the United States. A writer for Idea Lab, a group blog hosted on the website of PBS, described the award as "one of only a couple of journalism prizes that means anything".
The awards were established in 1949 in memory of George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek Civil War (1946–49). In 2009 former New York Times editor John Darnton was named curator of the George Polk Awards.
See list of George Polk Award winners for award recipients.
The National Reporting award was given to The Washington Post for an exhaustive study of killings by police officers. Jamie Kalven of Invisible Institute received the award for Local Reporting for "Sixteen Shots," published online by Slate Magazine, about the October 2014 police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. In contrast to police reports of the event, Kalven's investigation obtained the boy's autopsy report and pressed for release of a video of the incident. The Washington Post's Terrance McCoy won the award for Regional Reporting for his series on companies that buy the rights to court-ordered compensation for a fraction of their value. Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Mark Mazzetti, Matthew Rosenberg, Serge F. Kovaleski, Sean Naylor, and John Ismay received the award for Military Reporting for The New York Times for an investigation showing that elite U.S. Navy SEAL teams took on far broader roles than ever publicly acknowledged and most often operated with little accountability.
The Foreign Reporting award was given Ian Urbina, additionally of The New York Times, for "The Outlaw Ocean," a six-part series that portrayed a largely unchecked pattern of lawlessness on the high seas, as Urbina travelled through Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East over a year and a half reporting the stories, spending time on fishing ships, chronicling a diversity of crimes offshore, including murder of stowaways, intentional dumping, illegal fishing, stealing of ships, stranding of crews, and murder with impunity. This award for Foreign Reporting was additionally shared with Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, Martha Mendoza and Esther Htusan of the Associated Press for a series on the Thai fishing industry, "Seafood from Slaves," as the team documented the plight of impoverished men forced onto fishing boats to catch and process seafood destined for U.S. consumers and their pets. The AP has claimed that this work directly lead to the release of over 2,000 captive slaves and a rash of consequent litigation and reforms, although these claims of direct impact aren't without controversy.
Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project and T. Christian Miller of ProPublica received the award for Justice Reporting for "An Unbelievable Story of Rape." about how police failure to communicate across jurisdictions prolonged the rampage of a serial rapist in Colorado. John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal received the award for Financial Reporting for his coverage of Theranos, Inc. The Education Reporting award was given to Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner, and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times for their series that traced the decline of black student achievement in Pinellas County to a 2007 school board rezoning decision that effectively re-segregated five schools called "Failure Factories."
Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Michael Corkery, and Robert Gebeloff of The New York Times won the award for Legal Reporting for "Beware the Fine Print," a series of articles on how corporations evade legal responsibility by adding arbitration clauses to tens of millions of consumer and employee contracts. Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post received the award for Medical Reporting for "Dying to Be Free," about publicly-funded centres that were forbidden from prescribing effective medication-assisted therapy for heroin addiction due to pressure from 12-step programs. The Magazine Reporting award was won by Noreen Malone and Jen Kirby and photographer Amanda Demme of New York Magazine for "Cosby: The Women, An Unwelcome Sisterhood," a multimedia storey that gathered the accounts of 35 women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault.
Andrew Quilty of Foreign Policy Magazine received the award for Photography for "The Man on the Operating Table"; The Radio Reporting award to Nikole Hannah-Jones for "The Problem We All Live With" on This American Life; Jim Axelrod and Emily Rand of CBS News won the Television Reporting award for "Compounding Pharmacy Fraud"; and Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin won the award for Documentary Film for Cartel Land.
- Foreign reporting
- Radio reporting
- Economics reporting
- Business reporting
- Labor reporting
- Legal reporting
- National reporting
- Internet reporting
- Magazine reporting
- Military reporting
- State reporting
- Education reporting
- Local reporting
- Television reporting
- Documentary Film (introduced in 2014)
In addition, the George Polk Career Award is given in recognition of an individual's lifelong achievements.