Longform Podcast by Max Linsky

Polk Award Winners: Jason Motlagh

Jason Motlagh, a journalist and filmmaker, is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the founder of Blackbeard Films. He won the Polk's Sydney Schanberg Prize for “This Will End in Blood and Ashes,” an account of the collapse of order in Haiti.

“Once you've gotten used to this kind of metabolism, it can be hard to walk away from it. Ordinary life can be a little flat sometimes. And so that's always kind of built in. I accept that. I think I've just tried to be more honest about like, [am I taking this risk] because I need a bump my life? Or do you really believe in what you're doing? And I feel like I really do need to believe in the purpose of the story. There has to be some motivation greater than myself."

Longform Podcast by Max Linsky

Polk Award Winners: Brian Howey

Brian Howey is a freelance journalist who won the Polk Award for Justice Reporting after exposing a deceptive police tactic widely used in California. He began the project, which was eventually published by the Los Angeles Times and Reveal, as a graduate student in the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

“It’s one thing to hear about this tactic and hear about parents being questioned in this way. It’s another thing entirely to hear the change in a parent’s voice when they realize for the past 20 minutes they’ve been speaking ill of a relative who’s actually been dead the entire time, and to hear that wave of grief and sometimes that feeling of betrayal that cropped up in their voice and how the way that they spoke to the officers afterwards changed.”

Longform Podcast by Max Linsky

Polk Award Winners: Meribah Knight

Meribah Knight is a reporter with Nashville Public Radio. She won the Polk Award for Podcasting for “The Kids of Rutherford County,” produced with ProPublica and Serial, which revealed a shocking approach to juvenile discipline in one Tennessee county.

“Where does it leave me? It leaves me with a searing anger that is going to propel me to the next thing. But we’ve made some real improvement. And that’s worth celebrating. That’s worth recognizing and saying, This work matters, people are paying attention.”

Longform Podcast by Max Linsky

Polk Award Winners: Jesse Coburn

Jesse Coburn is an investigative reporter at Streetsblog. He won the Polk Award for Local Reporting for "Ghost Tags," his series on the black market for temporary license plates.

“You can imagine this having never become a problem, because it’s so weird. What a weird scam. I’m going to print and sell tens of thousands of paper license plates. But someone figured it out. And then a lot more people followed. It just exploded.”

Longform Podcast by Max Linsky

Polk Award Winners: Amel Guettatfi and Julia Steers

Amel Guettatfi and Julia Steers won this year's George Polk Award for Television Reporting for “Inside Wagner,” their Vice News investigation of Russian mercenaries on the Ukraine front and in the Central African Republic.

“One of the best takeaways I got from seven or eight years at Vice is that it’s not enough for something to be important when you’re figuring out how to make a story. It’s the intersection of important and interesting. And that has taught me that people will watch anything, anywhere, as long as it’s interesting. Nobody owes us their time. The onus is on us to explain things in an interesting, compelling way. I’m hoping that a landscape opens up somewhere else that sees that and understands that can be done anywhere in the world.”

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