The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards


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  • ‘89 San Francisco Earthquake
    ‘89 San Francisco Earthquake

    The San Francisco earthquake of 1989 caught nearly everyone by surprise and the potential for panic and chaos was great. KGO-TV, knocked off the air by the quake, soon restored its signal and immediately began exclusively broadcasting quake-related information. The station provided residents of the area with information about avoiding dangers with gas and electrical lines, telephone usage, aftershocks, and related topics throughout the night and in the days to come. The station became a clearinghouse for information as a service to other news entities and to area residents. And the station provided a series of follow-up reports, after order... read more

  • Cambodia Year Ten
    Cambodia Year Ten

    As the pace of world events quickens, the media are often criticized for ignoring the past and failing to follow up on significant events of recent history. Too, bottom line considerations have made journalists especially timid, as opinion and analysis have given way to “hit and run” journalism. Cambodia Year Ten is a glaring exception to these trends. Researcher and writer John Pilger and producer/director David Munro returned to Cambodia a decade after the holocaust initiated by the brutal Pol Pot. Their intensive analysis of the political, economic, and social conditions in the impoverished nation is marked by a strident... read more

  • China Beach: Vets
    China Beach: Vets

    Our preoccupation with the war in Vietnam and its consequences continues. We attempt to reconcile our experience in Southeast Asia in the popular arts: from fiction to feature films to television. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find new ways of recreating and interpreting the war without falling into traps of imitation or clichè. In the Vets episode of China Beach, writers John Sacret Young and John Wells broke new ground in bringing the experience of the war into our homes. Credit is also due to the team of producers: John Wells, Pat Green, Geno Escarrega, Chris Nelson and Fred... read more

  • China in Crisis
    China in Crisis

    When the pro-democracy movement began to grow in Mainland China in 1989 it seemed like a small story. A few students were attempting to dramatically alter one of the world’s most entrenched governments. It was ludicrous on the surface. But, as the protests grew, leading to the dramatic events in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, many Chinese people were joining in to create an increasingly loud cry for freedom. The brutal response of the Chinese government has done little to change the feelings of people, even if it has affected the mode of expression. As humanity learned in 1989, totalitarian governments... read more

  • CNN’s Coverage of China
    CNN’s Coverage of China

    In scarcely ten years, Cable News Network has moved from cable curiosity to the channel of record in television news. Never was that maturity more apparent than in its coverage of the tumultuous and tragic events in China in the spring of 1989. While news organizations around the world responded quickly to the infamous events in and around Tiananmen Square, CNN was distinguished by its extensive background reports by correspondent Mike Chinoy, which aired long in advance of the massacre. The Chinese government recognized the importance of the network by disconnecting CNN’s satellite uplink on May 20, a symbol of... read more

  • Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt
    Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt

    Members of the Peabody screening committee have become increasingly familiar with television depictions of the AIDS epidemic. Most are marked with sensationalism and simple-mindedness by focusing on the painfully slow and horrific way most AIDS patients die. To its credit, this film draws attention to the epidemic by celebrating the lives of its victims, not their painful demise. As a moving camera selects individuals from the stirring AIDS Memorial Quilt, and brings the victims back to life through the words of family and friends, this powerful film forces us to face the epidemic head-on. We realize that AIDS patients are... read more

  • Decade

    While seemingly everyone pieced together an end of decade review for airing in late 1989, each worked with the same pieces. Thus, it was often difficult to separate one from another. Decade was the exception. It looked and sounded like no other retrospective, interlaced as it was with video segments, rock music, and so-called “witnesses” (ranging from Spike Lee to Roseanne Barr) who interjected their observations of events. This study of the 80s and its icons stands out as visually and aurally fresh, vibrant, and innovative and takes advantage of television’s potential for creating high impact images and leaving indelible... read more

  • Did They Die in Vain?
    Did They Die in Vain?

    The recent anniversary of the tragic events of 1964 when three civil rights workers were killed in Neshoba County has brought back into focus the people of the state of Mississippi. By exploring the continuing wound that these events represent, WLOX-TV was, at once, trying to exorcise some ghosts of the past and ascertain what people’s attitudes are in the Mississippi of the present. Interviews with the principals as well as discussions with others have created a powerful study of changes in the state both as a result of the incidents of 1964 and the changes that have occurred in... read more

  • Earthquake ‘89
    Earthquake ‘89

    When the earth moved so violently in Northern California on the 17th of October 1989, many people lost their lives and most of the remaining feared for theirs. In the midst of an atmosphere filled with anxiety, KCBS-AM stood out as the voice of reason and concern. Residents of the city and surrounding area were instructed in how to avert natural gas disasters, where supplies would be distributed to those in need, and generally how to survive and begin the process of recovery. The station did not stop with reporting immediate events, but continued to broadcast important information continuously, without... read more

  • Hurricane Hugo Aftermath
    Hurricane Hugo Aftermath

    On the morning of September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo roared through the Charleston, South Carolina, area, devastating everything in its path. With radio and television stations off the air and immediate shortages of food, water, and other essentials, the community was in grave danger. Working to repair storm damaged equipment, WCSC-TV engineers got the station back on the air by noon and the station began emergency coverage that saved lives, helped bring order out of chaos, and got the community started on the road to rebuilding. For almost three weeks, the station, along with co-owned AM and FM radio stations,... read more

  • I Want to Go Home
    I Want to Go Home

    It is too easy and convenient to write off the homeless as lazy, stupid, and worthless because, then, they do not have to be viewed as humans and their tragedy need not trouble society and its elected officials. Politicians have been doing that for nearly ten years in an effort to convince us that the homeless are merely living out their own inadequacies. But, in some cases, they are simply victims of circumstance. And the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is children. What did they do to deserve their lot? Herb Dudnick, Jonathon Dann, and their colleagues at... read more

  • Institutional Award: Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon Broadcasts
    Institutional Award: Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon Broadcasts

    It is altogether fitting that we share the Peabody golden anniversary celebration with another broadcast institution: the Texaco-Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcasts. On December 8, 1989, with its 971st broadcast, the Met moved into its second half-century of opera on the airwaves. The partnership between an American corporation and one of our most treasured cultural resources is a model of corporate support for the arts. For five decades, Texaco has fulfilled its commitment to excellence in radio programming. It has never wavered in its support. It has always kept its sustaining announcements brief and restrained. For its part, the Met Opera... read more

  • Lonesome Dove
    Lonesome Dove

    Lonesome Dove managed to dispel two myths at one time. First it put the lie to conventional wisdom that labeled the television western as a dead form. Second, it countered a growing belief that the mini-series is outmoded. Its critical and ratings success has shown that quality work has an audience regardless of the form in which the work appears. CBS Television and Motown Productions in association with Pangaea and Qintex Entertainment have created a first-rate story of life and death on the cattle drive. The relationships between the characters, especially Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, reached out to... read more

  • Lost Innocence: The Children of World War II
    Lost Innocence: The Children of World War II

    With each passing year, the experience of World War II has drifted form recent to distant memory. This is a shame, since the voices of the survivors are the lasting legacy to its victims, especially the children. Lost Innocence: The Children of World War II is a stirring elegy to the thousands of innocents who perished. By presenting emotional and stirring recollections of those who survived, executive producer Karen Levine, associate producer Grazna Krupa and host Timothy Findlay, have produced a document of extraordinary impact. In its deliberations, the Peabody Board singled out one episode of this six-part series for... read more

  • Mei Mei: A Daughter’s Song
    Mei Mei: A Daughter’s Song

    The story of the relationship between the parents and children is as old as time itself, but we never tire of it because it is central to all. D. Roberts’ documentary examines how personal boundaries can be complicated by cultural boundaries as here, where the mother is Taiwanese and her daughter is American. The pain of the mother-who was sold into servitude as a girl and suffered abuse and near starvation makes it very difficult for her to relate to her daughter with the warmth and affection that her daughter desires. Thus the two share an uneasy alliance with the... read more

  • NBC News Special: To Be an American
    NBC News Special: To Be an American

    Immigrants have always been the heart and soul of America and they are not a new story. But they are a continuing story and a source of fascination for most of those whose ancestors came here some years back. As a national melting pot, America is one of them most interesting social experiments in history. Against that framework lies To Be an American, a story as old as comfortable shoes and as new as the day’s arrivals from far-off exotic lands. Tom Brokaw’s sensitive backgrounding and handling of the subject allows the personalities of the people with whom the special... read more

  • Personal Award: David Brinkley
    Personal Award: David Brinkley

    There are noble American institutions like elected government, free education, baseball, and hot dogs. Television news has become an institution as well, and within it some luminaries stand out. David Brinkley is one of these. When teamed with Chet Huntley, he kept America informed of the day’s events. As a commentator, he has only a handful of peers. In an era when it seems that an unfortunate amount of time and effort in television news is spent on appearances and style, David Brinkley is the embodiment of the journalist who cares more about the story. While others try to create... read more

  • Personal Award: J. Leonard Reinsch
    Personal Award: J. Leonard Reinsch

    It is especially fitting that this award is made to a giant of broadcasting and cable television in the state and city that was home to many of his achievements. J. Leonard Reinsch is a true pioneer in communications. Under his stewardship, the broadcast division of Cox Enterprises grew from a small subsidiary of a newspaper chain to a dominant force in the telecommunications industry. Long before “superstations,” he had the vision of interconnected cable systems sharing programming resources. Indeed, Mr. Reinsch was an early and often singular voice in the broadcast industry calling for cooperation and co-venturing with the... read more

  • POV: Who Killed Vincent Chin?
    POV: Who Killed Vincent Chin?

    In our increasingly violent society, it is perhaps too easy to overlook any single murder, especially one of the myriad that occur in high crime urban areas. However, Who Killed Vincent Chin? uses the murder of a young Chinese-American as a metaphor for the urban unrest, racism, and class conflict that characterize contemporary society. Produced and directed by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima, this gripping documentary permitted perpetrators, victims, family members, activists, and members of the criminal justice system the opportunity to tell their own stories. The result was a stirring and revealing expose of the nature of urban unrest... read more

  • Project Home Team
    Project Home Team

    One largely overlooked group in America is the working poor. While holding jobs and paying taxes—thus, not showing up on welfare rolls—they are falling deeper into poverty. In holding low paying jobs with minimal or no benefits, they are especially susceptible to rising housing and health care costs. Caught between inadequate protection in their jobs and inability to qualify for public assistance programs, they are hard-hit. In this comprehensive series of programs, KING-TV was able to show the plight of the working poor by focusing upon insurance, pay, housing, and other needs and problems evident in Seattle. Beyond just highlighting... read more

  • Scott Simon’s Radio Essays
    Scott Simon’s Radio Essays

    In one of its most elemental forms, the art of radio consists of one person speaking and another listening. As presented on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Scott Simon communicates and interprets our increasingly complex world with simple elegance and eloquence. His essays have set a standard for others to emulate: cogent and evocative writing, and an admirable diversity of subject matter, all sparingly intermixed with actualities and interviews. The result is radio that makes one think and feel, an experience all too rare in modern radio. Scott Simon’s voice is singular, but requires a team of able colleagues to transmit.... read more

  • Sesame Street
    Sesame Street

    It may seem hard to believe, but this year marks two decades of informative, innovative, and entertaining television for children on Sesame Street. This landmark program has continually broken new ground in its dedication to excellence. Marked by extensive original research and the most painstaking concern and care in writing, casting, and presentation, Sesame Street now embarks on its mission of preschool preparation for perhaps a third generation. For continually adapting to the dynamic composition and changing needs of its audience, for demonstrating that the tools of television can both inform and entertain, and for becoming an American institution of... read more

  • Small Sacrifices
    Small Sacrifices

    This terrifying true story, based on Ann Rule’s best-selling book, marked a high point in television drama for 1989. At the heart of the chilling tale of a mother’s mental illness and unthinking cruelty is the performance of Farrah Fawcett. With this portrayal, Farrah Fawcett has forever put to rest the image of her talents associated with Charlie’s Angels. Ably assisted by Ryan O’Neal, with exceptional writing by Joyce Eliason and direction by David Greene, Ms. Fawcett brings a sense of realism rarely seen in television miniseries. For a drama of unusual power, a Peabody Award to Small Sacrifices.... read more

  • The Great Wall of Iron
    The Great Wall of Iron

    Much of the world first became aware of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the tragedy of Tiananmen Square in June 1989. However, only weeks before, filming had been completed on an extraordinary examination of China’s military machine. Boasting unprecedented access to all areas of the People’s Liberation Army, this five-hour documentary reveals with unerring insight and exceptional clarity the enigma which is the modern Chinese army. Executive producers Michael Caulfield and Philip Gerlach, producers Steve Amezdroz and Harold Weldon, and director Scott Hicks have produced the first and, most probably, the last behind-the-lines inquiry into this highly secretive and... read more

  • The Public Mind
    The Public Mind

    Bill Moyers has been a fixture on the television landscape for some years now and he has always been associated with television at its best. The programs to which he has lent his stature have been characterized by incisiveness, intelligence, and thoughtfulness. The Public Mind is no different in that regard as it focuses upon a phenomenon so pervasive—the relationship of viewers to television—that few can grasp the concept well. But, in this series, Moyers manages to explore how television molds and alters public opinion and not always with the best of results for the democracy. The segment on American... read more

  • The Wonder Years
    The Wonder Years

    Each year, the Peabody Board bemoans the near-absence of excellence in series television. The decline in quality seems especially acute in the area of comedy. Happily, The Wonder Years is a glowing exception to that trend. This innovative series uses the tumultuous 1960s as a backdrop for its insight into the dynamics of family relationships. Distinguished by exceptional acting (including Fred Savage, Dan Lauria and Alley Mills), first-rate writing, and imaginative use of sound and music, The Wonder Years is always funny and frequently moving. It achieves two seemingly contradictory effects. On the one hand, its concentration on one family... read more

  • Yellowstone: Four Seasons After Fire
    Yellowstone: Four Seasons After Fire

    When the fires of 1988 devoured acres of Yellowstone National Park, most observers thought the area would be a long time in recovering if, indeed, it ever recovered at all. But after the fire, all the sage observers left, except for the news people of KCNC-TV returned to the park time and time again to see, over the long run, how the park was faring. By backpacking, snowmobiling, and traveling in the wooded areas of the park, they learned at close range what was happening. And what was happening was a wondrous surprise. Yellowstone was healing itself. While tourists, park... read more