NEW YORK — "Nova," PBS' science news program, won the highest honor at the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism.
Columbia University President George Rupp said that "Nova," winner of the Gold Baton award, "brings us elegant photography, thorough research, often suspense and always good reporting--to teach us about our world."
"Nova," produced at WGBH-TV in Boston, was honored for five programs: "Everest: The Death Zone," about the storm that killed eight climbers in a day at the world's tallest mountain; "The Brain Eater," about "mad cow" disease; "Supersonic Spies," about Soviet spying on the British and French race to produce the world's first supersonic passenger airplane; "China's Mysterious Mummies," about artifacts found in the deserts of central Asia; and "Coma," about the treatment of patients with severe head injuries.
The awards presentation was televised Thursday night on PBS stations.
The jury also awarded 11 Silver Batons for excellence in television and radio journalism for 1997-98.
Those winners were:
* ABC News' "Nightline" for "Crime & Punishment," a four-part series on how inmates live in maximum-security prisons.
* CBS News' "60 Minutes" for a three-part report on how the international pharmaceutical industry preys on the sick, particularly in developing countries.
* "CBS Evening News" for "Tomb of the Unknowns," a seven-part series that helped identify the remains of a Vietnam War hero buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
* The PBS show "P.O.V.," for "Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary," about the impact of California's immigration policy on a Los Angeles school.
* WRAL-TV in Raleigh for a six-part series on inadequate medical care provided to military families.
* WEWS-TV in Cleveland for "Final Mission," a documentary about the discovery of wreckage from an American fighter plane shot down by Germans over Belgium in World War II.
* The Independent Television Service for "Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers." The documentary about black laborers in the steel industry was broadcast on PBS.
* WBBM-TV in Chicago for uncovering illegal petitions circulated by a congressman during a primary campaign.
* WMAQ-TV in Chicago for "Strip-Searched at O'Hare," about how black women were disproportionately targeted for strip searches by customs agents looking for drug smugglers.
* WNET-TV in New York for "Taken In: The Lives of America's Foster Children." The documentary on New York City's troubled foster care system was broadcast on PBS.
* The Public Radio International series "This American Life" for "Scenes From a Transplant," a radio documentary tracing the treatment of a cancer patient.