Brittany Packnett, Serial’s Sarah Koenig Named TCR’s 2019 Justice Trailblazers

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Podcasters Sarah Koenig (left) and Brittany Packnett, will be honored for their innovation and entrepreneurship as "Justice Trailblazers" by The Crime Report at a Feb. 21 dinner.

Sarah Koenig, co-creator of Serial, and Brittany Packnett, contributor to the Webby-award winning Pod Save the People podcast, have been chosen as The Crime Report’s 2019 Justice Media Trailblazers.

Scroll down for links to videos of their acceptance speeches on TCR’s YouTube Channel

The awards are given annually to honor individuals in the media or media-related fields who have advanced national understanding of the 21st-century challenges of criminal justice reform.

Koenig and Packnett received their awards at a special dinner at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York on Feb. 21.

Sarah Koenig

“All serious-minded justice reporters are stealth reformers.”

Watch Sarah’s Acceptance Remarks here.


Brittany Packnett

“The essence of protest is telling the truth.”

Watch Brittany’s Acceptance Speech here.






Sarah Koenig, co-creator of Serial.

Koenig’s Serial program which launched its first season in 2014, is credited with bringing mainstream attention to podcasting. Episodes have been downloaded more than 420 million times and have attracted new audiences to the issues of justice reform. The third season, covering the criminal justice system in Cleveland, premiered in late 2018.


Packnett, named one of TIME Magazine’s “12 New Faces of Black Leadership,” has emerged as one of the most exciting new voices for justice reform through her impactful use of activist podcasting and other media channels.

Her achievements include co-founding Campaign Zero, which lobbies for police reform, and serving as vice president of National Community Alliances for Teach for America. Pod Save the People debuted on the iTunes podcast chart at number four, and reached a peak of number two.

Brittany Packnett

Brittany Packnett of Pod Save the People. Photo by Reginald Cunningham/Pure Black Photography

“Changes in the media landscape have generated innovative approaches to reaching audiences around the country, and the debate over criminal justice has deepened as a result,” said Stephen Handelman, Executive Editor of The Crime Report.

“Sarah and Brittany are extraordinary examples of creative media entrepreneurship, and they’ve blazed a path that others are now following.”

The two women will be presented with the sixth annual Justice Media Trailblazer award at John Jay College, during a dinner which will also recognize the winners of the annual 2018-2019 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Prizes for Excellence in Criminal Justice Journalism. The dinner is the highlight of the 14th annual John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Justice in America held February 21 and 22.

Previous Trailblazers were: Bill Moyers executive producer of “Rikers: An American Jail”; Van Jones of CNN; David Simon of The Wire; Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black; NPR’s Maria Hinojosa, producer of Latino USA; and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

Serial co-creator Julie Snyder will introduce Koenig at the dinner; and Brooklyn, NY activist Blair Imani will introduce Packnett. The event will be emceed by NY 1 News anchor Errol Louis.

Last year’s dinner remarks by Bill Moyers are available on this video link.

The annual Trailblazer dinners are organized by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, publisher of The Crime Report. Seating is by reservation only. More details here.

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