“The Gang Crackdown” and “Bitter Rivals” awarded 2019 duPont-Columbia Gold Baton

FRONTLINE, the acclaimed PBS investigative series, has been honored with a Gold Baton, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards’ highest honor — a prestigious award for excellence in journalism that hasn’t been given for a decade.

In a recognition of FRONTLINE’s dynamic range of work across multiple platforms — including broadcast documentaries, digital interactive storytelling, and an original, narrative podcast — the series was acknowledged by the duPonts for being both “a standard-bearer and innovator.”

“This year FRONTLINE produced an exceptional lineup of outstanding programs that illustrated how well it both champions traditional documentaries while also forging ahead with cutting edge, adaptive content,” the duPont citation reads, pointing to eight FRONTLINE projects that exemplify the scope of the series’ work: six FRONTLINE documentaries on both domestic and international issues (Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi ArabiaMyanmar’s Killing FieldsMosulPutin’s RevengeThe Gang Crackdown; and Life on Parole, in collaboration with The New York Times); a two-part story from the new podcast series, The FRONTLINE Dispatch (Living With Murder, pts. 1 & 2, in collaboration with Transom.org); and an interactive digital documentary about climate change in collaboration with The GroundTruth Project, The Last Generation.

“This Gold Baton is an acknowledgement of FRONTLINE’s evolution from a longstanding documentary series to a multi-platform journalism organization, that is also committed to uncovering vital stories and telling them in new ways,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who has led FRONTLINE since 2015 and is herself a graduate of Columbia Journalism School. “From our long-form documentaries, to our audio stories, to our digital interactives – it is an incredible honor to have the full breadth of FRONTLINE’s work this year recognized by the duPont jury in this way. Thank you to PBS, CPB and WGBH; all of our funders; and our audience for their constant support and for encouraging us to push the boundaries of our storytelling.”

The last Gold Baton given was awarded to WFAA-TV Dallas as part of the 2009 duPont-Columbia Awards. Prior to this year’s Gold Baton, FRONTLINE had earned two Gold Batons tied to its 1988-89 and 1996-1997 seasons, and one for its post-Sept. 11, 2001 documentaries on terrorism and counter-terrorism. This year’s is the first Gold Baton to honor a body of work that includes a podcast and an interactive digital documentary.

“Congratulations to FRONTLINE for receiving the Gold Baton at this year’s duPont-Columbia University Awards,” says Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Raney Aronson-Rath and her team are second to none when it comes to investigative journalism, and all of us at PBS are thrilled to see FRONTLINE recognized with this richly deserved honor.”

“This recognition for FRONTLINE highlights the critical role of serious, fact-based journalism in our democracy. Their groundbreaking work has set the bar for investigative reporting, work we are committed to in public media,” says Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH in Boston, where FRONTLINE is headquartered. “We are extremely proud of the inspired leadership of Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath and the extraordinary work of the entire FRONTLINE team.”

 

 

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The Gang Crackdown

Some 25 dead bodies have been found on Long Island since 2016, all linked to the violent gang MS-13. Numerous immigrant teens are missing. As law enforcement tries to stop the gang, FRONTLINE goes inside the crackdown — investigating how the slew of gruesome killings led to many immigrant teens being accused of gang affiliation and unlawfully detained.