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The New York Times received four George Polk Awards on Wednesday, the most of any news organization, including one for The 1619 Project, a series from The Times Magazine centered on reframing United States history by focusing on the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans.
Long Island University, the institutional home of the Polk Awards, announced the 15 winners of one of journalism’s most prestigious honors at the National Press Club in Washington.
The award for political reporting was split between reporters at The Wichita Eagle, a Kansas newspaper owned by McClatchy, which declared bankruptcy this month, and The Baltimore Sun, a daily owned by Tribune Publishing, which recently disclosed that its largest shareholder is Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund with a reputation for cutting costs at newsrooms it owns.
Reporting for The Eagle, Chance Swaim, Jonathan Shorman and Dion Lefler revealed that the Wichita mayor, Jeff Longwell, had steered a $524 million contract to friends and supporters, instead of the choice of a selection panel.
The Sun reporter Luke Broadwater worked with colleagues to show that Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore had collected $800,000 disguised as bulk purchases by hospitals and health insurers of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books. The Sun’s journalism led to the resignation of Ms. Pugh, who pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Nikole Hannah-Jones of The Times and other contributors to The 1619 Project won a special award. In a news release, the Polk Awards cited Ms. Hannah-Jones’s “powerful introduction,” noting that it “examined efforts of black Americans to advance the nation’s expressed ideals of democracy, liberty and equality in the face of centuries of oppression and exclusion.”
The project, which Ms. Hannah-Jones created, has been adapted into an audio series and was featured in a recent television commercial for The Times starring the singer Janelle Monáe.
Five historians disputed what they characterized as the project’s argument that “the United States was founded on racial slavery” in a letter to the editor and sought corrections; Jake Silverstein, the editor in chief of The Times Magazine, defended the project and declined to include the requested corrections.
Other Times journalists who were named as Polk honorees included Azam Ahmed, the winner in the category of foreign reporting for his work on gang warfare across Latin America and the Caribbean, and Brian M. Rosenthal, who won the local reporting award for his investigation of the underground economy behind New York City taxi medallions. Mark Scheffler, Malachy Browne and others at the Times’s visual investigations desk won the international award for their open-source reporting on the bombing of hospitals, a refugee camp and a busy street in Syria by Russian pilots.
The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock won the military reporting award for “The Afghanistan Papers,” which showed that U.S. officials’ real-time acknowledgments of failures in the war in Afghanistan had been kept from the public. The Houston Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel won in the national reporting category for uncovering the Trump administration’s border policies.
Three reporters from Bloomberg News won the financial reporting award for a series on how some investors exploited and profited from the “opportunity zone” codicil of the 2017 federal tax law, which was designed to benefit impoverished neighborhoods.
Four reporters from The Seattle Times won in the business reporting category for showing that the Federal Aviation Administration had approved the Boeing 737 Max’s flight control system — later found to be flawed, after two fatal crashes — after its cooperation with Boeing’s own inspectors.
Lizzie Presser won the magazine reporting award for an article published by the nonprofit ProPublica and The New Yorker about legal maneuverings that took land away from black families in the South who had owned it for generations. John Sudworth won for television reporting because of his BBC News investigation into China’s camps for members of the Uighur ethnic minority.
The staff of the Long Island tabloid Newsday won in the metropolitan reporting category for a multimedia investigative series, “Long Island Divided,” that uncovered racial discrimination by more than 90 suburban real estate agents in violation of state and federal law. The project took three years to report.
Several of the winners are expected to participate in a seminar moderated by the journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault at the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, part of Long Island University Brooklyn, on April 2. A luncheon ceremony in Manhattan is scheduled for the next day.
The awards are given each year in memory of the CBS correspondent George Polk, who was murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.
“In an age when much of our most incisive journalism is the product of multi-organization collaboration and team reporting, it is heartening to note that eight of this year’s Polk winners are the work of individual reporters,” John Darnton, the curator of the awards, said in a statement. “This speaks to the legacy of the man whose work these awards continue to honor 72 years after his assassination.”
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