Thirty-eight recipients of the 71st Annual Peabody Awards were announced by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for the year 2011, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the University of Georgia Campus.
“The range of the Peabody Awards’ search for excellence has never been wider or deeper than this year,” said Horace Newcomb, Director of the Peabody Awards. “Local news organizations covered stories with international import as well as those significant within their communities. Documentaries and news reports on issues missed or overlooked by big organizations were available on websites. Comedians engaged in political actions. Radio proved again the power of the individual human voice. Drama took on issues of power and control. Images of disaster appeared alongside images of hope and freedom.”
The latest Peabody recipients reflect variety in content, genre and sources of origination. The winners included Homeland, Showtime’s psychologically intense anti-terrorist drama; the classic game show Jeopardy!; TED.com, a website devoted to making creative thinkers’ ideas available to one and all; remembrances of 9/11 collected by StoryCorps and broadcast on National Public Radio; and Toxic Secrets, a powerful series of reports by Phoenix’s KPHO-TV about American soldiers and South Korean children exposed to Agent Orange three decades ago. My Perestroika, a POV documentary that examined Russia’s difficult transition from communism through the prism of five schoolmates who lived through it, was honored with a Peabody, as was Intersexions, a South African public-service drama aimed at curbing the spread of AIDS.
Other international recipients included A Year in the Clouds, a Taiwanese documentary about life in a remote mountain village; People’s Republic of Cheating and Misjudged Cases, a pair of investigative reports from Hong Kong’s TVB; Fuji Television’s The Untold Stories of the Tsunami in Japan, which emphasized human interest as much as gob smacking flood footage; Somalia: Land of Anarchy, a BBC1 report from deep inside a country decimated by never-ending war; and NHK’s Surviving the Tsunami, a meticulous post-mortem of the tidal wave and nuclear disaster with an eye to lessons for the future.
The anti-tyranny demonstrations in the Middle East, flaring up like wildfire, inspired some of the most impressive news reporting of the year. CNN earned a Peabody with comprehensive “Arab Spring” coverage that included the reports Egypt – Wave of Discontent and Uprising in Libya. National Public Radio’s Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya, vividly reported by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, was cited for its excellence as was Inside Syria, a trio of enterprising undercover reports by Clarissa Ward for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Al Jazeera English was cited for its wide-ranging coverage of the escalating wave of protests it labeled the “Arab Awakening.”
The Peabody board also noted CNN’s GPS series, citing Fareed Zakaria’s commentary and analysis regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as a special report, Fixing the American Dream, addressing problems with the U.S. educational system.
Other entertainment programs receiving Peabodys for 2011 include HBO’s Game of Thrones, a fantasy-drama that immerses viewers in a richly imagined dark-ages society, and Tremé, a note-perfect evocation of everyday life, love and music in post-Katrina New Orleans. NBC’s Parks and Recreation was cited for its sweet and prickly take on friendship and rivalry within a small town’s parks department, and Portlandia, shown on IFC, was recognized for the freshness and amiability of its send-ups of Oregon’s trendy city.
Austin City Limits, public television’s venerable showcase for roots, rock, country and pop music, was voted an institutional Peabody for its eclectic taste and unflagging commitment to quality. And Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report won its second Peabody for its deadpan anchor’s “Super PAC” segments lampooning the rise of megabucks politics.
Along with TED.com, the Internet winners for 2011 were BBC.com, a news site that draws on reports from the BBC’s 72 overseas news bureaus; the On Location posts on www.globalpost.com, a site devoted to world events neglected by other media outlets; and a pair of online reports created under the banner of Human Rights Watch, Acting Up: Russia’s Civil Society (www.newyorker.com) and Gold’s Costly Dividend: The Porgera Joint Venture (www.hrw.org).
The documentary honorees underlined the robust, kaleidoscopic state of the non-fiction form. They included Triangle Fire, Freedom Riders and Stonewall Uprising, a trio of historical documentaries presented under the banner of American Experience; Showtime’s Rebirth, a poignant film about five different people who experienced and rebounded from the 9/11 attacks; and Earth Made of Glass, an HBO documentary that examined the painful legacy of Rwanda’s genocide. Bhutto, a comprehensive Independent Lens biography of martyred Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, was awarded a Peabody, as was Charles and Ray Eames – The Architect and the Painter, an appropriately creative American Masters portrait of the great designing couple.
Other news programs cited by the Peabody board included Operation Deep Freeze, a report by Cleveland’s WEWS-TV about Navy personnel unknowingly exposed to atomic radiation while on duty in Antarctica; Their Crime, Your Dime, a high-impact investigation of food stamp and welfare fraud by Seattle’s KING-TV; and Desert Underwater, a thorough, comprehensible examination of why the housing bubble burst hit Las Vegas so hard by KLAS-TV.
ABC News Brian Ross Investigates was cited for Peace Corps – A Trust Betrayed, a stunning expose of widespread sexual abuse and official cover-ups within the esteemed humanitarian agency. Who Killed Chea Vichea?, from Denver’s KBDI-TV, didn’t let a limited budget or official resistance derail its investigation of the murder of a top labor leader in Cambodia, a major producer of low-cost clothing. A Peabody also went to Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families, a three-part NPR investigation that found more than 30 states flaunting federal laws that forbid the separation of Native American children from their families or tribes.
In the realm of public service, a Peabody was awarded to CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, the program that caps a year-round program created to identify and reward people around the world who affected the lives of others in a significant way.
“As media systems continue to expand and intensify, the Peabody Award will continue its search for excellence and significance,” Newcomb said. “Programs such as those honored this year will always be noted for outstanding achievement and they will always serve as models for the best work yet to come.”
The awards announced today will be formally presented at a luncheon ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on May 21. Sir Patrick Stewart, star of two Peabody winners, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Macbeth, will be the host. For ticket information, contact Sandy Friedman at 917-281-4718 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peabodys, the oldest awards in broadcasting, are considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media. The Peabody Awards recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals. The 16-member Peabody Board is a distinguished panel of television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts. Selection is made by the Board following review by special screening committees of UGA faculty, students, and staff.
All entries become a permanent part of the Peabody Archive in the University of Georgia Libraries. The collection is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most respected moving-image archives. For more information about the Peabody Archive or the Peabody Awards, visit www.peabody.uga.edu.
Complete List of 2012 Peabody Awards Winners
CNN’s Reporting of the Arab Spring including Worldwide Coverage: Egypt –Wave of Discontent and Uprising in Libya (CNN)
With seasoned correspondents already stationed throughout the Middle East, CNN was prepared when revolution began to leap like wildfire across the region.
An outgrowth of a 1984 conference that brought together leaders in technology, entertainment and design (TED), the site makes creative thinkers and their ideas available everywhere, anytime.
American Experience (PBS)
American Experience in association with Apograph Productions, Firelight Media and Q-Ball Productions
Three exceptional documentaries – Triangle Fire, Freedom Riders and Stonewall Uprising – are recognized this year under the banner of this grand American history anthology.
Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families (NPR member stations)
National Public Radio
This three-part report detailed how cultural bias and possible financial gain led North Dakota and 32 other states to ignore federal law barring the separation of Native American children from their families or tribes.
POV: My Perestroika (PBS)
American Documentary/POV/Red Square Productions, Bungalow Town Productions, ITVS International in association with YLE
Russia’s past, present and possible future are revealed in nuanced detail by this beautifully constructed film about five schoolmates, now adults, who lived through that country’s difficult transition from communism.
The Colbert Report – Super PAC Segments (Comedy Central)
Hello Doggie Inc., Busboy Productions, Spartina Productions, Comedy Central
Launching his own Super PAC as a satirical protest against megabucks politics, Colbert mixed cerebral comedy with inspired sight gags, interviews and preposterously funny monologues.
CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute (CNN, CNN International, CNN Espanol)
CNN, Done & Dusted (aka Fun & Trusted)
The star-studded, televised tribute is the culmination of a year-long effort to identify and reward 10 people from around the world who’ve made truly significant differences in the lives of others.
StoryCorps 9/11 (NPR Morning Edition)
StoryCorps, NPR, POV, National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The oral history project’s powerful response to the 9/11 anniversary presented authorized excerpts from interviews with survivors and victims’ relatives as well as YouTube postings of short animated features inspired by their remembrances.
With access to more than 2,000 journalists and the BBC’s 72 overseas news bureaus, the site is uniquely situated to provide immediate, evolving coverage of news events great and small.
Who Killed Chea Vichea? (KBDI Denver and other NETA stations)
Loud Mouth Films, Limited, Independent Television Service (ITVS)
This investigative documentary, produced on a shoestring budget, covers the 2004 assassination of a Cambodian trade union leader and exposes corruption in one of the world’s top exporters of low-cost clothing.
News Magazine: People’s Republic of Cheating and
Misjudged Cases (TVB Jade Channel)
Television Broadcasts Limited, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong-based magazine series excelled on two reports, one dealing with the spurious and plagiarized academic publications and dissertations, the other with unjust arrests and prosecutions.
Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21
This serial drama from Showtime is a game of cat and mouse, a psychological thriller and a Rorschach test of post-9/11 doubts, fears and suspicions rolled into one.
The Untold Stories of the Tsunami in Japan (Fuji Television)
Fuji Television Network, Inc.
Detailed, thorough and heart-stopping, this reliving of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster painstakingly combines familiar and unseen video, expert commentary and interviews with survivors.
Human Rights Watch:
Acting Up: Russia’s Civil Society (www.newyorker.com) and
Gold’s Costly Dividend: The Porgera Joint Venture (www.hrw.org)
The New Yorker, Human Rights Watch
These arresting, detailed online reports combine photography, video, interviews and written analysis. One documents Russian dissidents, the other the abuse of inhabitants of a remote part of Papua New Guinea by mine security personnel.
Earth Made of Glass (HBO)
Clover and A Bee Films, 33&Out, Inc. in association with HBO Documentary Films
This moving documentary explores how Rwanda is dealing with its horrific legacy of genocide. Both the country’s president and an ordinary survivor offer personal perspectives.
Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya (NPR member stations)
National Public Radio
Eloquently describing events or passing her microphone to everyday protesters or regime supporters, NPR foreign correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro provided exemplary coverage throughout the Middle East.
Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education and
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS: Interpretation and Commentary on Iran (CNN)
Zakaria applies his interviewing and analytical skills to impressive effect in his prime-time special devoted to America’s education quandary and in his measured, insightful ruminations on Iran.
Independent Lens, Bhutto Film, LLC
In this documentary, former Pakistani president Benazir Bhutto’s life story unfolded like an epic novel, with a fairy tale beginning, a martyr’s death and years of social awakening and political courage in between.
Blown Deadline Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
The storylines snake and swoop like an unhurried jazz jam in this rich drama in which everyday people get on with life in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Broadway Video, IFC
A funhouse mirror reflection of Portland, Oregon, a city that takes its progressivism – and its diet – very seriously. The satire is fresh, organic and cage-free.
Their Crime, Your Dime (KING-TV)
KING-TV, Seattle, WA
KING’s investigation of food stamp and welfare scams prompted Washington’s state legislature to fund a $5 million fraud-prevention squad.
Somalia: Land of Anarchy (BBC1)
Six years after his producer was gunned down in Somalia, a BBC reporter returns to provide the world with an unflinching look at life in a failed state.
Al Jazeera’s Coverage of the Arab Awakening (Al Jazeera English)
Al Jazeera English
From December 2010, when protests erupted in Tunisia, through 201, Al Jazeera was a network of record for millions of viewers throughout the world. On-the-ground reporting was thorough, enterprising and brave.
Toxic Secrets (KPHO-TV)
CBS News 5, KPHO, Phoenix
A dying veteran’s confession sparked this powerful account of secretly buried drums of Agent Orange on a South Korean U.S. Army base. Reporter Tammy Leitner traveled to Korea and examined the chemical’s effects on Korean kids and U.S. military personnel.
By turns poignant and exhilarating, this documentary appraises the impact of the 9/11 attacks on five individuals. Their stories illuminate movement from anger and grief to hope, purpose and renewed spirit.
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Bighead, Littlehead, 360 Television, Grok and Generator Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
Adapted from dark-age fantasy books by George R.R. Martin, the series immerses viewers in a multilayered, distinctly imagined world of mysticism and earthiness, fidelity and deceit, wonder and mayhem.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley: Inside Syria (CBS)
With a small, disguised camera and no crew, CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward entered Syria posing as a tourist. Her courageous, undercover reporting gave viewers a rare, close-up glimpse of a country falling toward civil war.
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Universal Television, Deedle-Dee Productions, Fremulon
This shrewd, good-natured comedy about parks department staff in Pawnee, Indiana, never condescends or caricatures. Instead it confronts the characters with problems from the trivial to the serious.
Desert Underwater (KLAS-TV)
KLAS-TV, Las Vegas, NV
The station used a sharply detailed series of reports and a prime-time special to explain how Las Vegas came to take such a crushing hit when the housing bubble burst. The excellent online data base still helps foreclosure-threatened homeowners.
Surviving the Tsunami (NHK)
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.)
Combining its own archival footage with video shot by ordinary citizens, this documentary meticulously examines what happened the day the monster wave hit and what Japan’s people and leaders can learn from it.
Operation Deep Freeze (WEWS-TV)
NewsChannel 5, WEWS-TV, Cleveland
This investigation of Navy personnel unwittingly exposed to radiation at an Antarctica base sparked public hearings by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
American Masters: Charles and Ray Eames – The Architect and the Painter (PBS)
Quest Productions, Bread and Butter Films in association with Thirteen’s American Masters for WNET
This fascinating and visually inventive biography demonstrates that the mid-century “modern” furniture for which the Eamses are best remembered represents merely a fraction of their ingenious and influential design work.
A Year in the Clouds (PTS)
Public Television Service, Taipei, Taiwan
Beautifully photographed, the film records a year among indigenous Taiwanese mountain people who rely on eco-tourism and shared ownership of land and property to support their communal way of life.
ABC News Brian Ross Investigates:
Peace Corps – A Trust Betrayed (ABC)
ABC News 20/20
Looking into the murder of a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, Ross’ team made stunning discoveries of sexual assaults and official cover-ups. The result was a Congressional investigation of the iconic humanitarian program.
On Location (www.globalpost.com)
Focused on news and events neglected or ignored by other media outlets, the site’s growing cadre of writers and videographers posted video reports from 34 different countries in 2011.
Intersexions (SABC 1)
John Hopkins Health and Education South Africa, Curious Pictures Pty Ltd, Ants Multimedia, SABC Education
Aimed at stemming South Africa’s AIDS epidemic, Intersexions is public service as educational serial entertainment. The HIV virus itself plays a role as a seductive voice in this well-acted, candidly written program focused mostly on young, restless, high-risk adults.
Austin City Limits (PBS)
KLRU-TV, Austin, TX, PBS
Austin City Limits receives a rare Institutional Peabody Award. Thirty-seven seasons on air make it the world’s longest running live music television program. Concerts by the likes of Coldplay, Widespread Panic and Randy Newman made 2011 a banner year for the Lone Star State’s music showcase.
Sony Pictures Television
TV quiz shows for $500, please. “Encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge is this Peabody Award winner’s legacy.” Buzzzzz. “What is Jeopardy!?” Correct.
What do you think about the winners of The Peabody Awards 2012? Let me know in the comments section. Also, remember to follow me on Twitter for more Peabody Awards scoop.