2023 Visual Storytelling (All Newsroom Sizes) Winners

Liz Willen, Soledad O'Brien, Rose Arce, Naimah Jabali-Nash, Fazil Khan, Amari Leigh & Tristan Nash, The Hechinger Report, Soledad O'Brien Productions & CBS News

About the Winners:

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious college admissions in June 2023, independent journalist Soledad O’Brien teamed up with The Hechinger Report editor-in-chief Liz Willen. They sought to find out how the decision affected teenagers from underrepresented communities who became part of the first class to test the newly uncertain college admissions landscape.

Willen’s written stories appeared in The Hechinger Report, USA Today and CBS.com. O’Brien reported the documentary film for CBS Reports, which appeared on CBS online and live stream and affiliate properties, along with Paramount +, YouTube, and through Apple TV, Firestick and Samsung TV. As of Jan. 5, CBS Reports has tracked 1,416,278 minutes of the documentary viewed so far across their platforms. Both the documentary and the written reporting were shared and discussed on Soledad’s social media accounts to her 1.3 million followers.

Sharing reporting duties allowed the team to include more voices and cover more territory in a fast-paced and unprecedented college admissions season. It also tapped into data expertise from Hechinger Report editors Sarah Butrymowicz and Fazil Kahn.

Comments From the Judges:

“A great balance of lawyer arguments about the ideas of affirmative action and drama in the hopes and fears of students whose futures are crossing that changing landscape. I very much hope there is [a] follow-up on the admission data.”

“Timely and informative. Excellent opening. The audio and visuals worked well together to set the scene. I love the really tight shots. But more importantly, I like the variety of visuals. Skilled photography for sure. Even the interviews were well-lit and composed.”

Photo credits: The Hechinger Report, Soledad O’Brien Productions & CBS News