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Alumni Journalists Honored for Work Exposing Disinformation

a crowd of people, one person holds up phone
A still from A Thousand Cuts by Ramona S. Diaz. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Two Emerson alums were honored with 2023 Walter Cronkite Awards for excellence in political television journalism for their work uncovering disinformation, at home and abroad.

Documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz ’83 won for her film, A Thousand Cuts, about then-Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against journalists, and NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins ’10 won a “special recognition for incisive reporting from the trenches of the information war.”

The Walker Cronkite Awards are given annually by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 2023 entrants were limited to the subject of disinformation and the threat it poses to democracy.

Ben Collins in blue suit, hands clasped in front of him
Ben Collins ’10

“At a time when journalists are fighting a tidal wave of disinformation and misinformation,” Annenberg professor Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center, which administers the award, said in a press release, “it’s incredibly heartening to honor these examples of superlative work by indefatigable TV reporters and producers, from the national to the local level.”

In giving a special recognition to Collins, judges called it “inspiring” to watch him cover stories such as the racist manifesto of the Buffalo shooter or the anti-trans campaigns leading up to the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, “bearing witness to the extremism on the dark web” and “holding it accountable.”

Judges also praised Collins’ public questioning of journalists’ responsibilities in reporting on disinformation and extremism, and his work’s impact or lack thereof on violence.

Read more about Collins in “Stop Making Sense: Living in an Age of Disinformation & Misinformation,” in the Spring 2022 issue of Expression magazine.

A Thousand Cuts, which aired as an episode on PBS’ Frontline, “does ‘an unbelievable job illustrating the nuances, vulnerabilities and disinformation campaigns all at play’ in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s epic battle with the press over facts and truth, told through the story of one of his prime targets, journalist Maria Ressa,” according to the Annenberg Center.

“Judges said ‘this film masterfully depicts … a recipe for national disaster that applies to us all globally.’”  

Diaz won a 2022 Peabody Award for the film.

Awards will be presented Friday, June 9, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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