The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

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  • 36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death, and Justice on Angola
    2008
    36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death, and Justice on Angola

    Angola, the vast prison farm in southern Louisiana, is in many ways a world of its own. Long notorious as one of the most violent penitentiaries in America, it is defined by almost feudal characteristics. Among them is a deep secrecy about many actions and events that have taken place through the years. Correspondent Laura Sullivan uncovered one of them. In 1972, a guard, Brent Miller, was murdered by inmates. Sullivan was not allowed to interview any current inmates, but some who were on Angola in 1972 and have since been released talked to her on condition of anonymity. They... read more

  • 60 Minutes: Lifeline
    2008
    60 Minutes: Lifeline

    The phrase “health care crisis in America” is repeated so often, analyzed from so many perspectives, that it begins to lose meaning and significance. 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his crew cut through the clutter and shatter the abstractions in Lifeline, a report about Remote Area Medical (RAM). Stan Brock designed the project to provide medical assistance in the Amazon regions of South America, but he subsequently discovered a parallel need in the United States. With volunteer doctors, nurses, assistants and other health care professionals, his organization has set up temporary clinics in regions throughout the country and treated... read more

  • Ape Genius
    2008
    Ape Genius

    Ape Genius has the requisite beauty of good nature documentaries, but it has much more: philosophical questions explored through multiple scientific techniques and critically examined by filmmaker John Rubin. The large question posed here is: what is it, intrinsically, to be human? Or, as cognitive scientist Brian Hare of Duke University puts it in this ambitious documentary, “What’s the little difference that makes the big difference?” He is talking about the great apes, an elite group of exceptionally smart creatures that includes humans, and about what it is that differentiates us from chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. Ape Genius takes... read more

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    2008
    Avatar: The Last Airbender

    Closer in spirit and complexity to The Lord of the Rings trilogy than the typical TV adventure cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American-made, anime-influenced saga that draws its rituals and philosophies from Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu, Greek and Japanese traditions and its martial-arts styles from a variety of Asian cultures. Handsomely animated, with a stirring musical score, the series follows the odyssey of Aang, a fun-loving, 112-year-old boy who is the current incarnation of the Avatar, the spirit of the planet in human form. Aided by a band of adolescent and teen warriors and some fantastical creatures, Aang reluctantly... read more

  • Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and Zhang Yimou
    2008
    Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and Zhang Yimou

    An exponential magnification of what was once known in television as a “spectacular,” the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was the most ambitious, enthralling and expansive in the history of the modern Games. It was staged from the beginning with television in mind. The creative director of the ceremony, famed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, who shares this award with NBC, worked closely with the network’s Dick Ebersol, David Neal, and Bucky Gunts to orchestrate and choreograph this gargantuan undertaking so that it played with maximum effect both to the stadium crowds and to the cameras that carried the ceremony worldwide.... read more

  • Black Magic
    2008
    Black Magic

    Many stories link race and athletics in America. Black Magic tells one too long obscured. The key context in this superb four-hour documentary is the role of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), institutions central to African-American history and to the struggle for civil rights. The key element in that context is basketball. Using segments from more than 200 hours of interviews and found film footage, the documentary chronicles the efforts of coaches and players at the HBCUs. With far fewer resources than those found at white colleges, these men created a form of the game that repeatedly astonished... read more

  • Breaking Bad
    2008
    Breaking Bad

    Adventure and doom, courage and deceit, comedy and tragedy coalesce in Breaking Bad, a serial that ponders the changes that come over Walter White. A harmless high school chemistry teacher with a loving wife and a disabled son, Walt becomes a master chef of methamphetamine when he learns he has terminal cancer. His meekness evaporates as he discovers the strange potential and power of his new profession. His dilemma, his determination to leave his family financially secure and his good nature make it easy to root for him despite his criminal activities—at least initially. But as he descends into drug-dealing... read more

  • China: The Earthquake of Chengdu
    2008
    China: The Earthquake of Chengdu

    “Oh my goodness…we’re in the middle of an Earthquake?” All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block was in Chengdu, China, conducting an interview when a massive earthquake convulsed the booming Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. The incredulity and shock didn’t leave Block’s voice as she and producer Andrea Hsu hustled from a shuddering church building to the relative safety of the street, but her descriptive play-by-play continued. “The top of the church is falling down,” she reported. “The ground is undulating under my feet.” Block set a tone that she and her colleague Robert Siegel and their NPR team would... read more

  • Coverage of 2008 Presidential Primary Campaigns and Debates
    2008
    Coverage of 2008 Presidential Primary Campaigns and Debates

    With no incumbent president or vice-president running for the Presidency of the United States in 2008, primary elections took on great significance. The intensity was clear from the earliest days—and nights—as a large group of Republican candidates vied for the nomination. Among Democrats, the race narrowed more quickly to two, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. CNN’s coverage of the primaries provided clear information and careful analysis. Teams of reporters were on the scene of each campaign, traveling with candidates, organizers and supporters. On election nights these reporters kept viewers involved at ground level. The groups of analysts assembled to provide... read more

  • Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics
    2008
    Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics

    Locally produced television documentaries are an endangered species, so it’s all the more impressive that Las Vegas station KLAS-TV put so much effort and care into a report that had the potential to alienate rich and powerful constituents—and presented it in prime time. Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics takes a meticulous look at how the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s multi-billion-dollar plan to pump massive amounts of water to Las Vegas from rural Nevada is likely to affect the state’s environment and the ranchers, farmers and Native Americans who live in those parts. KLAS reporters spent five years traveling the state,... read more

  • Depression: Out of the Shadows
    2008
    Depression: Out of the Shadows

    Approximately 18.8 million American adults have a depressive disorder. Depression comes in many forms, strikes all socioeconomic groups, stalls careers, strains relationships, and sometimes ends in suicide. Yet depression is a disease surrounded by silence. Despite the ease with which we say the word in everyday conversation, a stigma continues to hang over this prevalent illness. Depression: Out of the Shadows is a multi-dimensional public-television project that explores depression’s complex terrain. Personal narratives dominate this beautifully photographed documentary, allowing those who suffer from depression to tell us their stories with an emotional honesty seldom seen on the television screen. Doctors,... read more

  • Entourage
    2008
    Entourage

    In Hollywood, it takes an entourage to make a star. Or, perhaps, the star makes the entourage. When actor Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) broke through in an independent hit, Bronx Boulevard, the mainstream came calling. And in this series the mainstream has never been crazier. But for the impossibly handsome Vince and his boys it’s never been better. Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), is Vince’s older sibling, sometimes a television star, sometimes a self-delusional wannabe, sometimes the best brother in the world. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), one of the boy-hood pals, is now a general factotum, an all-round gopher and driver... read more

  • Failing the Children: Deadly Mistakes
    2008
    Failing the Children: Deadly Mistakes

    Seven-year-old Chandler Grafner died of starvation in a closet of his foster parents’ Denver apartment in May 2007. Reporters at KMGH-TV soon began asking hard questions about the effectiveness of the county’s child-protection agency, the Department of Human Services. Throughout 2008, a KMGH team led by John Ferrugia uncovered systemic inadequacies and case-worker mistakes. The department had failed to prevent the deaths of Grafner and at least three other Denver children known to be at-risk. Ferrugia and company discovered witnesses to the department’s incompetence and troublesome internal documents even as Denver officials stonewalled and denied allegations. Their investigation ultimately prompted... read more

  • Hear and Now
    2008
    Hear and Now

    In this lovingly produced documentary, director Irene Taylor Brodsky chronicles the outcomes of a major decision made by her parents, Paul and Sally Taylor. In their 60s, the Taylors, deaf since birth, get cochlear implants, a technology that might enable them to hear. Their story is a biography of a marriage and a family. It is an account of their education and varying successes. And it is an exploration of deafness, of the many ways in which individuals, couples and families come to terms with meaningful silence. The Taylors’ decision to modify a defining aspect of their identity surprises family... read more

  • Hopkins
    2008
    Hopkins

    Medical drama is one of television’s oldest genres, dating back to Medic in the early 1950s. In Hopkins, filmed at the revered Johns Hopkins teaching hospital in Baltimore, truth proved to be easily as gripping as any fiction—and more educational. There’s no narration. ABC News let the hospital speak for itself. Given unprecedented access to staff and patients, crews took viewers through Hopkins’ halls and into the operating rooms, allowing them to watch complex surgeries, such as an aortic aneurysm repair, and to listen in on doctors’ life-and-death discussions. One especially wrenching choice involved a boy with a heart infection:... read more

  • Independent Lens: King Corn
    2008
    Independent Lens: King Corn

    Think of it as “Ian and Curt’s Excellent Agricultural Adventure.” College buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, regular dudes who consume large quantities of junk food and wear their baseball caps backwards, get a wild, post-grad notion that they should grow an acre of corn and observe their harvest as it goes to market and manufacturing. They hook up with an experienced documentary maker, Aaron Woolf, and they find an obliging farmer in Green, Iowa, where both of their great-grandfathers grew up. What follows is a crash course on modern American agronomy and its dietary implications, touching on everything from... read more

  • Independent Lens: Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita
    2008
    Independent Lens: Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita

    In Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, filmmaker Maria Finitzo puts a human face on a polarizing, highly politicized subject, stem-cell research. Her documentary focuses on Dr. Jack Kessler, a Northwestern University neurologist, who becomes obsessed with finding a method to repair damaged spinal cords after his beloved daughter, Allison, is left paralyzed from the waist down by a skiing accident. We see the intelligence, intense focus and patience that Kessler and his hand-picked research team bring to their laboratory research and the passion he brings to his attempts to educate people through newspaper editorials and speaking engagements. His staunch... read more

  • Institutional Award: Hearst-Argyle Television: Commitment 2008
    2008
    Institutional Award: Hearst-Argyle Television: Commitment 2008

    Formed in 1997 with the merger of Hearst Broadcasting and Argyle Television, Inc., this group now owns 26 television stations that collectively reach more than 18 percent of the U.S. population. With this substantial audience, it is all the more significant that the Commitment 2008 project focused primarily on issues, topics, candidates and contests in local communities. In the 30 days before the 2008 elections, Hearst-Argyle stations aired at least 10 minutes per day of candidate coverage. The Heart-Argyle Washington Bureau provided coverage of national events—debates, primaries, caucuses and campaign practices. For setting a standard of excellence in the use... read more

  • Institutional Award: Turner Classic Movies
    2008
    Institutional Award: Turner Classic Movies

    From television’s earliest days, when movies filled countless late-night hours and weekend afternoons, to the present, when high-definition screens and “home theatre” surround sound enhances the excitement, the melding of film and television has been a marvelous experience. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) expands and enhances this long tradition. Not only is the channel the premier site for uninterrupted screenings of classic films, it is also a producer of original programming, from biographies of industry figures to thematic cinema history. Festivals spotlight specific topics, and all the various features are extended in magazines, with a website, and with databases and blogs.... read more

  • John Adams
    2008
    John Adams

    In an age when executives, politicians and even statesmen live their lives before cameras of all shapes and sizes, an age when the internet enables the latest rumor to swirl into blogs and newsletters, it is difficult to imagine a farmer removing his wig without fear of becoming a laughingstock. This is not to say that the age of John and Abigail Adams was without rumor or rancor. But it is to say that there were times when politics seemed more personal, and commitment to ideas and ideals seemed utterly believable. This lavish miniseries, the adaptation of David McCullough’s masterful... read more

  • Jungle Fish
    2008
    Jungle Fish

    The pressures placed on young people to achieve and gain admission to prestigious colleges and universities are familiar around the world, and Jungle Fish confirms the case in Korea. This remarkable narrative, based on a true story, examines what can happen when those pressures rise to excessive levels. The account begins when examination questions are “leaked.” Students throughout a high school are caught in a whirlwind of speculation, investigation and guilt. Although parents, teachers and administrators play their roles, the tension among the students themselves drives the story, and their actions and responses are played out on computer screens and... read more

  • Lost
    2008
    Lost

    Lost is the ultimate castaway yarn, a romantic adventure that incorporates themes and notions from classic visionary literature — Wells’ The Time Machine, Verne‘s Mysterious Island — and philosophical ruminations worthy of Emerson, Locke and Sartre. It is also one wingding of a cliffhanger serial that has kept its fans scratching their heads and gripping their sofa cushions. From the beginning, its account of the survivors of Oceanic Air 815, a Sydney-to-LA flight that crashed on an uncharted island in the Pacific, has been unconventionally told. No one who walked away from the wreckage was exactly who he or she... read more

  • Nanking
    2008
    Nanking

    Nanking is history in intimate form. In broad outline, the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s and the events that came to be known as “the rape of Nanking” are perhaps familiar. The details are harrowing—more than 200,000 Chinese citizens killed, more than 20,000 rapes of women and children, atrocities of every kind, a city destroyed. What is often overlooked in general accounts is the personal involvement of individuals. The central feature of this documentary is the use of accounts recorded by a group of westerners living in Nanking at the time of the invasion. These missionaries, doctors and... read more

  • NOAH Housing Program Investigation
    2008
    NOAH Housing Program Investigation

    In late summer of 2008, WWL anchor/reporter Lee Zurik began a series of reports about possible corruption related to a non-profit agency charged with assisting New Orleans’ ongoing recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Zurik was alerted by Monica Gadbois, a citizen journalist who monitors city programs with her blog, that the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program might be involved in questionable financial practices. In more than 50 televised reports, Zurik pushed city officials to provide information related to the agency’s efforts to gut damaged houses, maintain properties, and assist with remodeling. When he reported discrepancies in agency records,... read more

  • NYTimes.com
    2008
    NYTimes.com

    Aggressively and creatively adding sound and moving images to its traditional package of news and features, The New York Times has stepped forward as an innovator in online journalism. Its website exemplifies a new age for the press, expanding its role in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. Among the website’s most useful services in 2008 was “Choosing a President,” a comprehensive package that included documentary film, photojournalistic slide shows and user-friendly features such as candidate speeches on video accompanied by full transcriptions with key words that could be clicked for contextualization or fact checks. Among its most powerful... read more

  • Onion News Network
    2008
    Onion News Network

    News parody is nothing new in electronic media. The irreverent “Weekend Update” has been a staple of Saturday Night Live since its debut in 1975, and mock news is the lifeblood of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Central shows. But only Onion News Network, a web offshoot of the satirical tabloid The Onion, does fake news — specifically, fake cable news — so deftly that viewers may find themselves doing a double take. With anchors and sets and overblown graphics that could easily be CNN’s or Fox News Channel’s, ONN’s deadpan reports inform us that Diebold, the controversial voting... read more

  • POV: Campaign
    2008
    POV: Campaign

    Campaign is not politics as usual. Kazuhiro Soda’s beautifully photographed documentary focuses on an old university classmate of his, Kazuhiko Yamauchi, who was plucked from obscurity by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to run for a city council seat in a Tokyo suburb. It quickly becomes clear that the qualities the LDP values most, especially in a first-time candidate, are willingness to adhere to party dictates and hierarchy and the ability to project an appealing humility to voters. Yamauchi may have minimal charisma and know little of the issues, but he’s earnest, pleasant and deferential to the point of... read more

  • Richard Engel Reports: Tip of the Spear
    2008
    Richard Engel Reports: Tip of the Spear

    There is never a good war in which to be a journalist, a “war correspondent.” The current war in Afghanistan is no exception. Richard Engel’s time spent with “Viper Company,” an American unit fighting in a remote cluster of mountain outposts in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, is yet another powerful account of young men placed in deadly circumstances. This story seems as if it could have been prepared on any frontier, in any century, in any war. That it takes place on terrain where many armies have fought and failed, however, seems especially pertinent. The terror is magnified when the best... read more

  • Saturday Night Live Political Satire 2008
    2008
    Saturday Night Live Political Satire 2008

    The 2008 Presidential campaign was a tonic for the troupe at Saturday Night Live. Stealing satirical thunder back from its cable rivals, SNL’s writers and sketch-players made transparent the absurdities that accompany serious politics in the media age. Tina Fey became Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, in some voters’ minds. Yet her impersonation was only one of many spot-on goofs: Darrell Hammond contributed an edgy John McCain, Fred Armisen a windy, wonky Barack Obama. Amy Poehler did double duty as Hillary Clinton and CBS News anchor Katie Couric, while Chris Parnell had NBC anchorman emeritus Tom... read more

  • Sichuan Earthquake Coverage
    2008
    Sichuan Earthquake Coverage

    When an 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan Province in China on May 12, 2008, Sichuan Television responded with immediate action. Over the next days, producers and reporters from the local station combed through the earthquake zone to produce gripping images of life and death, the sorrow of the survivors and the heroic rescue efforts. For the first few days after the earthquake hit, the Sichuan station’s images provided media organizations around the world with first-hand accounts of the devastation. Often, its reporters took great risks to travel hours on foot to reach the epicenter of the quake, cut off from... read more

  • The Gates
    2008
    The Gates

    In 1979, provocative grand-scale artists Christo and Jean-Claude approached New York City with a proposal to create a temporary work of art in Central Park. Officialdom said no. Twenty-four years later, following dozens of high-profile works of landscape art around the globe, the artists finally got the city’s approval to construct The Gates, 7,503 saffron colored gates and fabric panels that lined footpaths in the park. This cinema verite documentary chronicles the decades-long struggle of Christo and Jean-Claude to realize their vision. Conceived as a “love letter to New York City,” The Gates shows us the soaring beauty of the... read more

  • The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD Series
    2008
    The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD Series

    The advent of high-definition, digital technology inspired the Metropolitan Opera to re-imagine its televised presentations—not just how they’re photographed but what is shot, how it’s edited and how it’s delivered to audiences. The result is a series of operas—from old warhorses such as “La Boheme” to daring, modern works such as “Peter Grimes” and “Doctor Atomic” to an ingeniously-costumed, family-friendly “Hansel and Gretel”—that are transmitted live, with stunning clarity, to some 850 movie screens around the world. Subsequently, they’re televised nationally on PBS. The grandeur of the stage productions is fully conveyed, yet there is also greater intimacy and immediacy.... read more

  • The Red Race
    2008
    The Red Race

    With startling access and devastating honesty, The Red Race tracks the plight of Chinese child gymnasts who are being groomed for Olympic stardom—but at what cost? Six-year-old boys and girls are forced to build unnatural muscle and constantly perform grueling routines. A young girl sobs while being made to hold a handstand, her coach screaming in a shrill voice for her to stop crying. Children barely old enough to write are led to sign contracts that will bind them to their sport. Stressed-out coaches are told they will lose their jobs, and parents worry about their children’s futures if the... read more

  • This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money
    2008
    This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money

    The best reporting often begins with a question that most journalists considered too dumb or obvious. So it was with Alex Blumberg, a producer at This American Life. Pondering the early stages of what we’ve come to know as the “sub prime mortgage crisis,” Blumberg wondered: “Why are they lending money to people who can’t afford to pay it back?” He joined forces with an experienced business reporter, National Public Radio’s Adam Davidson. Together they assembled The Giant Pool of Money, a remarkably clear and, in retrospect, startlingly early (May 2008) explanation of the mortgage mess. They found that a... read more

  • Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal
    2008
    Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal

    For public-affairs enthusiasts who prefer illumination to confrontational fireworks, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal has long been the gold standard. Thoughtful, informed and timely, its Friday-night political recaps rely not on columnists, editorial writers or anybody with an ax to grind but on beat reporters from a variety of publications and networks, from Time to Politico to CNN. They share their notes and insights in a lively but civil manner under Gwen Ifill’s enthusiastic questioning. During the long 2008 campaign season, Washington Week was a whistle stop in your living room, supplementing its usual Beltway broadcasts with... read more

  • YouTube.com
    2008
    YouTube.com

    Since 2005, millions of people in 19 regions around the globe have answered YouTube‘s call to “Broadcast Yourself.” Indeed, 10 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds. Hundreds of millions of videos are viewed each day. With an endless stream of content that ranges from banal to breathtaking, YouTube is the place online where audiences flock for news and entertainment. But YouTube is more than just the world’s most popular online viewing community. YouTube has become our speakers’ corner, promoting a free exchange of ideas, expressed in video formats, around the world. Through YouTube, important information is... read more