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Long Island University Announces Winners of 2001 George Polk Awards


Peg Byron,Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn Campus,
Long Island University

The George Polk AwardsBrooklyn, N.Y. -- The September 11 attack on America and its aftermath was the subject matter covered by four of the 13 winners of the George Polk Awards for the year 2001, announced today by Long Island University.

BBC World and BBC World Service Radio received the Television and Radio Reporting award for their authoritative and wide-ranging accounts of all aspects of the attack and the war in Afghanistan. BBC's North American business correspondent, Stephen Evans, was sitting in the lobby of the World Trade Center South Tower when the first plane struck. He and his colleagues covered the first 24 hours non-stop, and continued to provide a clear picture of unfolding events in the ensuing days and weeks. In addition, BBC used longstanding contacts in Afghanistan to gain special access to political leaders there.

Two George Polk Awards were presented to The New York Times: 
Correspondent Barry Bearak won in the category of Foreign Reporting for searing dispatches from Afghanistan that offered dramatic eyewitness reporting filled with humanizing detail. Bearak had reported from the front lines on the struggle between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance for months before the U.S. joined the war.

The Times also was honored for National Reporting in recognition of the breadth and depth of its stateside coverage of the attack. From September 18 through December 31, a special section of the Times, "A Nation Challenged," documented every detail of the unfolding news through eyewitness accounts, thoughtful analysis and poignant photographs. This depiction of the broad sweep of events was augmented by "Portraits of Grief," a series of intimate profiles of the victims, capturing the hopes and dreams of the lives that were tragically cut short. 

Bernard Lewis received the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting for his New Yorker article, "The Revolt of Islam," which sought to make the unthinkable understandable, by examining the historical context and likely impact of Islam's war with the West. "For Osama Bin Laden," Lewis wrote, "2001 marks the resumption of the war for the religious dominance of the world that began in the seventh century If {he} can persuade the world of Islam to accept his views and his leadership, then a long and bitter struggle lies ahead."

Other Polk winners include Joan Didion who won the Book Award for "Political Fictions," a compilation and amplification of eight articles she had published in The New York Review of Books. Didion's central hypothesis is that the entrenchment of a small percentage of the electorate as the nation's deciding political force led, inevitably and inexorably, to the crisis that was the 2000 election.

Duff Wilson and David Heath of The Seattle Times were honored for Medical Reporting, exposing highly questionable practices at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Their five-part series, "Uninformed Consent: What Patients at 'The Hutch' Weren't Told About the Experiments in Which They Died," documented unapproved use of experimental drugs by physicians with a financial interest in their development.

Susan Pulliam and Randall Smith of The Wall Street Journal won the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting for a succession of stories revealing misleading and fraudulent practices by Credit Suisse First Boston in promoting initial public offerings. In the aftermath of their reporting on Credit Suisse First Boston's manipulation of IPOs, federal regulators fined the international giant $100 million - one of the largest such penalties in history.

The George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting went to reporters Bill Theobald and Bonnie Harris of The Indianapolis Star for a ground-breaking, six-month investigative series, "Destined to Die." Theobald and Harris found that about 22,000 dogs and cats were put to death annually by the city and the local humane society, largely because the society failed to undertake a low-cost, high-volume spay-neuter program that works well elsewhere. The series led to the appointment of a mayoral task force and the resignation of two top administrators at the society.

Sudarsan Raghavan and Sumana Chatterjee of Knight Ridder newspapers won the George Polk Award for International Reporting for "A Taste of Slavery," a series of stories linking the world chocolate trade to modern-day slavery. Raghavan and Chatterjee followed the chocolate trail from remote farms in the Ivory Coast where enslaved boys harvest cacao, through London, Philadelphia and Chicago. Their stories spurred new federal rules requiring chocolate items to carry labels stating that they are not products of slave labor.

Jessie A. Hamilton, Stephanie Earls, Tom Roeder and Mark Morey of the Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, WA) won the George Polk Award for Regional Reporting for "Caught by the Fire in the Canyon," a report about a lethal forest fire in Washington State. Their painstaking account, including notes and photographs left behind by a victim, demonstrated that four firefighters died largely because the U.S. Forest Service failed to enforce its own safety procedures.

The George Polk Award for Local Reporting went to Heidi Evans and Dave Saltonstall of the New York Daily News for stories revealing and documenting allegations of financial impropriety and neglect at Hale House, the Harlem-based refuge for children born to drug-addicted or imprisoned mothers. Following the News stories, Hale House was reorganized, and its president, Lorraine Hale, and her husband were indicted.

Lisa Davis of the San Francisco Weekly won the George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting. Her series, "Fallout," revealed a history of mishandled radioactive waste at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point, an area the city has been planning to transform into a residential community and recreation center. 

Edna Buchanan is the recipient of the 2001 George Polk Career Award. Of her 18-year career as a police reporter, she declared, "There is something noble about going out each day to seek the truth." She covered Miami when it became the center of the international drug trade and the scene of race riots. Parlaying her role at the Miami Herald as one of the best-known crime reporters in the U.S. into another career, Buchanan left the newspaper and became a celebrated writer of mystery novels. Her "Britt Montero" series focuses on the life of a police beat reporter in Miami.

The awards will be presented by Long Island University at a luncheon at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on April 11. The evening before the award presentation, Wednesday, April 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Annual Polk Award Seminar will be held at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium, 1221 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. During the seminar, titled "Covering Terror," award winners will discuss the story behind the stories of 9/11 and its aftermath. It is free and open to the public.

For information on attending "Covering Terror" or the award luncheon, please call Long Island University Department of Special Events at (516) 299-4196.


Posted 02/20/2002

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