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The George Polk Awards: Reporters Who Seek to Right Wrongs

  • Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, LIU Brooklyn 1 University Plaza Brooklyn United States (map)
Polk Image 2014

Polk Award winning journalists reveal what motivates them to right society’s wrongs. Find out what it takes to pursue and publish a major story that has impact. Light refreshments will be served at 5:30 pm. The panel discussion begins at 6:30 pm. RSVP



Madeleine Baran is an investigative reporter for APM Reports and the host and lead reporter of the podcast “In the Dark.” Baran's work focuses on holding powerful people and institutions accountable. Her reporting has exposed flaws in law enforcement investigations, forensic science, state-run mental health institutions and other areas.

In 2013 and 2014, Baran exposed a decades-long cover-up of clergy sexual abuse in the Twin Cities archdiocese. Her reporting led to the resignation of the archbishop, criminal charges against the archdiocese, and lawsuits by victims of clergy sex abuse. In 2015, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy. Baran's reporting has also appeared on NPR and has been cited by the New York Times.

Baran has received numerous national awards for her reporting, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, regarded as the Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting, a George Foster Peabody Award, a Gracie Award, and two national Sigma Delta Chi awards.

Baran received her master's degree in Journalism and French Studies from New York University.



Julie K. Brown is an Investigative Journalist at The Miami Herald.  She is receiving the Polk Award for Justice Reporting for exposing how a prosecutor arranged for a hedge fund manager who sexually abused under-age girls to avoid a federal prison in a deal now ruled illegal.



Ginger Thompson is a senior reporter at ProPublica. A Pulitzer Prize winner, she previously spent 15 years at The New York Times, including time as a Washington correspondent and as an investigative reporter whose stories revealed Washington’s secret role in Mexico’s fight against drug traffickers.

Thompson served as the Mexico City bureau chief for both the Times and The Baltimore Sun. While at the Times, she covered Mexico’s transformation from a one-party state to a fledgling multi-party democracy and parachuted into breaking news events across the region, including Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela.

For her work in the region, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer’s Gold Medal for Public Service. She won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, an InterAmerican Press Association Award, and an Overseas Press Club Award. Thompson was also part of a team of national reporters at The Times that was awarded a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race is Lived in America.”

Thompson graduated from Purdue University, where she was managing editor of the campus newspaper, The Exponent. She earned a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University, with a focus on human rights law.



Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist with more than 50 years in the industry, extending her work at various times to all media.

She is the author of four books—the latest an e book, called Corrective Rape, which details the devastating way some men in South Africa attempt to “correct” gay women’s sexual identity; To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement,” is a historical narrative for young readers grade nine and up, published by The New York Times and Roaring Brook Press. Her other two books are, New News Out of Africa: Uncovering the African Renaissance, Oxford University Press and In My Place, a memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, fashioned around her experiences as the first black woman to attend the University of Georgia, in 1961, now a Vintage Press paperback.

In 2005, she returned to NPR as a Special Correspondent after six years as CNN's Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent. She joined CNN in April 1999 from National Public Radio, where she worked as the network's chief correspondent in Africa and was awarded a Peabody in 1998 for her coverage of the continent.

Hunter-Gault worked for 20 years with the PBS NewsHour, alternately as substitute anchor and national, as well as international correspondent. And she has now returned to the NewsHour as Special Correspondent, doing an unprecedented year long series called Race Matters, focusing on solutions to American’s enduring race problem.

She began her journalism career as a reporter for The New Yorker, to which she still contributes; she then worked as a local news anchor for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C later as the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times. Her numerous honors include a New York Times Publisher's award for a story she worked on detailing the life of the youngest victim of a heroin overdose in 1970. Hunter-Gault also has won two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards—the first for her work on Apartheid's People, a NewsHour series about South African life during apartheid; the second for her work in Africa for NPR, in which, according to the Peabody citation, she "demonstrated a talent for ennobling her subjects, and revealed a depth of understanding of the African experience that was unrivaled in Western media." Over the years, Hunter-Gault has been the recipient of numerous other awards for her work and in August, 2005, she was inducted in the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. In 2014, she received Black Enterprises Legacy Award. In 2015 , she was honored with the Washington Press Club Foundation's Life Time Achievement Award and that same year was also inducted into the Atlanta Press Club's Hall of Fame.

Hunter-Gault is a sought after public speaker, holds some three dozen honorary degrees and is on the board of The Committee to Protect Journalists. She is married to businessman Ronald T. Gault, with whom she produces Passages--four South African Wine varietals. And she has two adult children, Suesan, an artist and singer and Chuma, an actor.

Presented with LIU Brooklyn Department of Journalism and Communication Studies

Earlier Event: April 3
On Location: CAA
Later Event: April 10
On Location: Weber Shandwick