Ira Glass of This American Life is a recipient of a prestigious George Polk Award, announced today (Feb. 20) by Long Island University. Glass won for his reporting on "Very Tough Love," an hour-long piece that showed "alarmingly severe" punishments by a county drug court judge in Georgia, LIU said in a press release. "Drug courts were set up to emphasize rehabilitation instead of incarceration, but Glass’ investigation revealed that Judge Amanda Williams strayed far from the principles and philosophy by routinely piling on jail sentences for relapses," it said. Williams ultimately stepped down from the bench. (For the back story on Glass's reporting, see Current's June 13, 2011, coverage).
Journalists from another public media news organization, California Watch, also won a Polk for medical reporting for "Decoding Prime." Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig wrote a yearlong series of articles showing how a California hospital chain increased its Medicare reimbursements by classifying patients as suffering from rare medical conditions. "The stories, which appeared in newspapers across California, offered a glimpse into the broader problem of waste, fraud and abuse within the nation’s $2.5-trillion health care system," LIU said.
Honors will be presented at a luncheon April 5 in New York City. The awards have been administered by LIU since 1949, memorializing CBS correspondent George W. Polk, who was slain covering the civil war in Greece in 1948.