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‘The 13th Step’ honored with prestigious duPont-Columbia Award

NHPR’s The 13th Step was announced as one of 15 recipients of a prestigious silver baton by the duPont-Columbia University Awards on Thursday, Jan. 25, in New York City. The 90-minute awards ceremony is available to watch here.

The duPont-Columbia Awards honor outstanding public service audio and video reporting. Founded by Jessie Ball duPont in honor of her late husband Alfred I. duPont, the awards have upheld “the highest standards in journalism by honoring winners annually, informing the public about those journalists’ contributions and supporting journalism education and innovation,” for 80 years, according to the awards’ website. NHPR is one of 15 winners chosen from among 30 finalists, which were previously announced in November. This year, five local news outlets are 2024 duPont-Columbia Award winners, including NHPR.

'The 13th Step' team celebrates their 2023 national Edward R. Murrow award. From left to right: Sr. Reporter and Host Lauren Chooljian, Lead Editor Alison MacAdam, Senior Producer Jason Moon, and NHPR’s Senior Editor of Podcasts Katie Colaneri
'The 13th Step' team celebrates their 2023 national Edward R. Murrow award. From left to right: Sr. Reporter and Host Lauren Chooljian, Lead Editor Alison MacAdam, Senior Producer Jason Moon, and NHPR’s Senior Editor of Podcasts Katie Colaneri

“We’re so honored to see The 13th Step be recognized among so many other excellent pieces of high-impact public service journalism,” said NHPR’s Document Senior Editor Katie Colaneri. “It’s yet another testament to the power of this reporting, to (Reporter/Producer Lauren Chooljian’s) persistence in shining a light on this systemic abuse, despite many obstacles, and above all, to the courage of our sources.”

The 13th Step chronicles allegations of sexual abuse by the founder of New Hampshire’s largest addiction treatment center. Several acts of vandalism followed the release of The 13th Step, at the homes of some of the NHPR journalists involved in that reporting, and their families.

“Grounded in deep local reporting, widening out to examine a national phenomenon, told compelling as a reporter’s - and news organization’s - risk-filled journey in search of the truth, The 13th Step represents New Hampshire Public Radio’s unbending commitment to journalism in the public interest,” said Jim Schachter, president and chief executive of NHPR. “We could not have produced this reporting without the support of our members and sponsors, and of our board members who stepped up to ensure our staff’s security when our journalists came under attack, just for doing their jobs.”

Jelani Cobb, Peabody Award-winning documentarian and dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, called the duPont-Columbia awards “the Pulitzers of broadcast journalism” during an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Jan. 24.

Chooljian on stage at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH
Zoë Kay / NHPR
Chooljian on stage at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH

“We have work that is well-researched, well presented in the public interest,” Cobb said. “And so we go through this amazing, just embarrassment of riches in terms of the work that people have done and select the best in local and national broadcast news.”

Other 2024 winners include PBS who won three duPont-Columbia Awards; one for courageous reporting from Ukraine in “20 Days in Mariupol,” one from Afghanistan in “Afghanistan Undercover”, and a third silver baton for Ken Burns’ compelling six-hour series “The U.S. and the Holocaust” (Florentine Films/WETA) and “Caught on Camera, Traced by Phone: The Russian Military Unit That Killed Dozens in Bucha” from The New York Times. 

This year, 30 news stories and films earned spots as finalists for the duPont-Columbia awards. The winning pieces are selected by the duPont jury of nine industry leaders from hundreds of entries.

The 13th Stepis a production of the Document team at New Hampshire Public Radio, and received support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. NHPR supporters make it possible for the team to keep investigating and sharing these stories with you.

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