WHYY-FM has won the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast and digital journalism.
WHYY shared the award with Harrisburg station WITF-FM and NPR for a jointly produced series of radio and Web reports on issues related to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.
The awards were announced at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City on Wednesday morning. The announcement praised the project, "StateImpact Pennsylvania," as "an important model for reporting on local issues."
In broadcast and multimedia Web reports between July 1, 2011, and June 30, Susan Phillips of WHYY and Scott Detrow of WITF covered the public policy consequences of natural gas extraction as well as its effect on the lives of people directly affected by the drilling.
"Their work revealed previously unreported aspects of a new gas drilling law, including a provision that would require health professionals to sign confidentiality agreements in order to get access to chemical-exposure information and developments in the state's efforts to establish a natural gas impact fee," according to the announcement.
Phillips, 45, who has been at WHYY since 2004, a year after earning her master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, said she and Detrow tried to bring clarity to "an issue that is highly polarized."
"I think both sides of the debate tend, if not to simplify, to ignore certain facts that don't fit into their narrative," Phillips said. "We feel like our job was to tell these stories based on the facts that were available to us and also through the voices of those who were most impacted by these policies being carved out in Harrisburg."
"StateImpact Pennsylvania" was one of 14 DuPont-Columbia winners announced Wednesday. Four prizes went for international reporting, including stories by CBS News, Current TV, Frontline on PBS, and NPR. Frontline also won for a report on inner-city violence. For the first time, the list of winners included documentary films in theatrical release: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Bully.
USA Today won for multimedia reporting, and the audio archive StoryCorps won its first DuPont Award for a project with NPR and the PBS show POV on remembrances of 9/11.
Five awards went to local television and radio stations: KCET in Southern California, KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, WVUE-TV in New Orleans, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and the WITF/WHYY/NPR partnership.
The awards, symbolized by a silver baton, will be presented at a ceremony Jan. 22 at Columbia.