- The Media School Distinguished Alumni Award (2011)
- College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (1983)
- Pulitzer Prize (1974)
- National Reporting
"Name any big national or international story of misdeed, fraud, extortion, espionage, terrorism, crime, or corruption from the last 20 years, and it's a safe bet it will carry Jim Polk's byline or broadcast imprimatur." So begins the entry commemorating Jim Polk's 1994 induction into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. IU graduate Polk earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 while working at the Washington Star . He earned the prize in the national reporting category for his coverage of Watergate, disclosing irregularities in the financing of the campaign to re-elect Nixon in 1972.
A native of Oaktown, Ind., Polk wrote his first stories as an eight year-old sports reporter for the weekly Oaktown Press . While at IU, he became a full-time reporter for the Bloomington Herald-Telephone while also attending school. After college, he joined the Associated Press bureau in Indianapolis, eventually landing in Washington with the AP.
From 1975 to 1992, Polk worked for NBC News, covering stories such as the CIA's role in flying arms to Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra scandal, the downfall of baseball great Pete Rose, and the racketeering case against Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. He became an executive producer at CNN, where he continued his involvement in special investigations, such as CNN's coverage of the terrorist bombing of the World Trace Center. Polk retired in 2012.