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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cartoonist Garry Trudeau Among 2014 Polk Award Winners

02/17/2015 11:44 am ET | Updated Feb 17, 2015
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and The Atlantic are among those who won George Polk Awards for "investigative and enterprising reporting" in 2014, Long Island University announced in a press release Sunday.

The Times' foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi won the award for international reporting with her "explosive account" of how European countries continue to pay al Qaeda millions of dollars in ransom despite denying the practice. The paper was also honored for its health reporting during the Ebola crisis, and shared an award for justice reporting with the Miami Herald for detailing inmate abuse within the U.S. prison system.

For Politico Magazine, independent journalist Rania Abouzeid won the foreign reporting award for her piece “The Jihad Next Door," which gave "an extensive and authoritative account of the rise of the Islamic State," and The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig's investigation into a series of security blunders at the Secret Service was recognized for national reporting.

Though The New York Times points out that the Polk Awards do not always recognize excellence in commentary, The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates won the award for his cover story “The Case for Reparations.” Published in June, the piece examined the progression of institutionalized racism in American history and was a finalist for a 2015 National Magazine Award in essays and criticism. According to The Times, John Darnton, the curator of the Polk Awards, decided to give an award for commentary because Coates “drives home his arguments very, very forcefully.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Polk Award," Coates said in a statement. "I take it as recognition for the tremendous effort and investment The Atlantic has put into pushing new ideas into the mainstream backed by thorough research and reporting."

The creator of the popular "Doonesbury" comic strip, Garry Trudeau, won the program's career award, making him the first cartoonist in history to do so.

"He has cut political pretension down to the size of his Doonesbury comic strip for 45 years," the announcement read.

The decision to make Trudeau the 33rd recipient of the award was largely seen as a showing of solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were killed during a terrorist attack in Paris on Jan. 7.

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