74th Annual Peabody Award Winners
Written by Noel Holston
2014 Peabody Award Winners
- 60 Words (WNYC Radio)
A “Radiolab” collaboration with Buzzfeed reporter Gregory Johnsen, it takes a hard, disturbing look at the broad, malleable wording of the Authorization of Use of Military Force Act, approved by near-unanimous Congressional vote shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and how its interpretation has expanded military power and secrecy.
An animated amalgam of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and fairy tale, it chronicles the escapades of an odd-looking human boy named Finn and his best friend, a shape-shifting dog named Jake, in the surreal Land of Ooo. Purely and wonderfully imaginative in the manner of classic theatrical cartoons past, it entertains even as it subtly teaches lessons about growing up, accepting responsibility, and becoming who you’re meant to be.
With archival images, animation and fresh interviews, “Freedom Summer” recalls the voter-registration “freedom rides” of 1964, a campaign planned and trained for like a Civil Rights D-Day. The documentary is not only inspiring and instructive, it holds surprises even for those who believe they know this epochal American story.
This sobering investigative documentary took listeners inside the child sex-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, uncovering among other things how the archbishop who headed of the committee that wrote the U.S. Catholic Church’s landmark abuse policy – the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People – not only failed to follow it but participated in cover-ups.
This cinematically arresting, brilliantly written series from England is an anthology of dark-side tales – dark as a black hole. If its narrative shocks don’t wreck your sleep pattern, its moral conundrums will.
This “Dispatches” documentary addresses one of the most tragic facets of the civil war in Syria, the impact on the country’s children. Yet by focusing on five kids who go on learning and playing amid the chaos and danger, it becomes a powerful testament to resilience and adaptability.
In a series of pithy news reports about the “Bridgegate” scandal, WNYC helped to link a disruptive bridge closure to a broader pattern of questionable political operations by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office. Its coverage sparked national news coverage, high-profile resignations in the Christie administration, and criminal investigations into the Port Authority.
High-impact journalism, CNN’s investigation into delays in care at Veteran Affairs hospitals exposed a systemic VA breakdown, eventually leading to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the passage of federal legislation, and a dramatic change in how veterans’ medical appointments are made, recorded and reported.
CNN approached the Boko Haram kidnapping horror from many angles, even moving Isha Sesay’s daily show to Abuja to raise the profile of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Sesay’s tough, live-TV interviewing, along with high-risk field reporting of Nima Elbagir, Arwa Damon and other CNN journalists, made the network’s coverage comprehensive and indispensable.
An update of Carl Sagan’s famous series for the age of CGI, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “COSMOS” is not only an educational, eye-popping, near-psychedelic tour of our universe and beyond, it’s a passionate brief on behalf of science itself.
Charming, sweet and gently humorous, this animated series, featuring an African-American physician’s daughter who attends to damaged stuffed animals and other broken toys, allays children’s fears about doctor visits even as it promotes medicine as a profession.
An incredibly important and consequential response to a global crisis, this multi-pronged BBC World Service effort shrewdly employed a variety of platforms – Twitter, website and apps as well as radio – to keep Africans abreast of the epidemic’s advance and provide people the world over with reliable news.
Reflecting the high level of public interest in abandoned children at the southern U.S. borders, Univision’s coverage provided multi-perspective context that’s often missing in mainstream media’s English-language reports. It skillfully combined an overview of the phenomenon while following one family whose child disappeared trying to cross the border.
Fargo, the series, boasts the same snow-swept backdrop and dark, deadpan ambience as the Oscar-winning movie but tells a different, more complicated story. Its villain, Billy Bob Thornton’s mischievous, murderous, charismatic Lorne Malvo, is a character worthy of Norse mythology.
With extensive, candid interviews from both critics and defenders, FRONTLINE provided a great public service, revealing in clear, comprehensible detail how the U.S. government in its post-9/11 zeal came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world – and here at home – and the lengths to which officials have gone to hide the massive surveillance from the public.
With powerful testimonials about the intricacies of the trade and the human cost, including interviews with Chinese doctors who confide they’ve been coerced into removing organs from live political prisoners, this is a harrowing exposé of a fiendish system of forced organ donor transplants.
A cautionary tale that vividly evokes a deadly, 2005 commuter-train crash in Japan as a metaphor to explore modern society’s relentless pursuit of speed and efficiency, it’s beautifully made and scored like a real-life thriller.
No other living creature has shown us more about life on Earth than David Attenborough. He’s a credit to his species.
Schumer’s wholesome, disarming “Brady Bunch” looks belie and enhance a comic intelligence that’s smart, distinctively female and amiably profane, whether she’s applying it to sketch comedy, stand-up, or person-on-the-street interviews.
Afropop Worldwide revels in and reveals the music Africa has inspired at home and around the globe. It’s cultural anthropology with beats you can dance to.
Reports on NBC and MSNBC about the rise of ISIS had an unsurpassed depth, contextualization and clarity thanks in large part to NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, whose years of experience in the Middle East proved invaluable.
Immaculately conceived, it’s a smart, self-aware telenovela that knows when and how to wink at itself. Its Latina lead, Gina Rodriguez, is incandescent.
Students at Chicago’s idyllic-sounding Montefiore Therapeutic Day School are actually one mistake away from jail or a mental hospital. This dramatic series of web reports and podcasts delved sympathetically but unsentimentally into their lives, contextualizing their problems and giving them a chance to speak.
A most worthy addition to the news-as-comedy genre, Last Week Tonight doesn’t just satirize the previous week’s news, it engages in fresh, feisty investigative reports that “real” news programs would do well to emulate.
Vivid and scary, this hour-long report by Maria Hinojosa and “Latino USA” producer Marlon Bishop makes it clear why large numbers of Hondurans seek to escape the violence back home and enter the U.S.
Alex Gibney’s biography of the hardest working man in show business gets up and gets on the scene, telling a fascinating story about race and culture and politics with amazing archival clips and interviews with musicians who worked with him.
Engaging on multiple levels, the documentary surveys the life of a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist who devoted 75 years to the labor, civil rights, and black power movements. Now 98, with a grandmotherly smile, she’s a charismatic presence on camera and still a challenging thinker.
A powerful, subtle dramatic series about a death-row inmate released after nearly two decades thanks to new DNA evidence, it ponders whether what’s been lost can ever be repaid, not just to him but to everyone he and his alleged crimes touched.
NPR had a reporter in Guinea in early April, months before even world health officials understood the magnitude of the Ebola threat, and its coverage throughout 2014 was unsurpassed in scope and variety: insightful reports that didn’t feature just Western experts, but also doctors, nurses, government officials from the heart of where Ebola was breaking out.
An audio game-changer, this compelling, multi-episode podcast closely examined the evidence against an 18-year-old facing a life sentence for murder, illuminating disturbing flaws in the justice system along the way. The first unquestionably mainstream podcast, it has been downloaded nearly 60 million times.
Compelling and inspiring, this well-constructed documentary chronicles the life and times of a hero of the anti-apartheid movement who championed nonviolence even after he survived a car-bomb maiming.
The great news about SOTRU is that it purveys good news–not soft, sugarcoated features but grassroots reporting that demonstrates how everyday people, both rural and urban, are figuring out ways to tackle their communities’ problems.
In this ingenious, addictive cliffhanger, Reagan-era Soviet spies – married with children and a seemingly endless supply of wigs – operate out of a lovely 3BR home in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Between their nail-biter missions (and sometimes in the midst of them), the series contemplates duty, honor, parental responsibility, fidelity, both nationalistic and marital, and what it means to be an American.
Reporter Andy Pierrotti’s heavily-documented investigation of Texas’ mental-health care policies demonstrated that the state’s penny wisdom has been profoundly pound foolish. Cutbacks and indifference ending up costing taxpayers more.
A visually rich, densely-plotted thriller set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it suggests complexities and age-old vendettas that often escape even the best documentaries, to say nothing of the evening news.
Journalist Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks filming inside the self-proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State, and his resulting VICE News reports are remarkably up-close and enlightening, sometimes surreal, sometimes terrifying.
Graphic, gripping, unapologetically grisly when it has to be, this lavish historical drama masterfully dissects surgical experimentation, doctors’ egos, race relations and social mores in the New York City of 100 years ago. It gives new meaning to the term “operating theater.”
A powerful, fascinating documentary, it uses archival surveillance video and eloquent, emotional interviews to deconstruct and discredit the case against four Newburgh, New Jersey, men lured into a would-be terrorist plot by an FBI informant in 2009.
Mark Greenblatt’s outstanding, exhaustive investigative review of court martial cases uncovered more than 240 convicted rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders who have slipped through loopholes that allow them to stay off public sex-offender registries when they leave the brig and return to civilian life.
An unusual but successful melding of investigative journalism and nature filmmaking, “Virunga” documents the work of courageous park rangers in the Congo to protect Africa’s mountain gorillas from war, poaching and industrial expansion.
Tuesday, April 14: Individual/Institutional winners press release.
Thursday, April 16: Entertainment winners press release.
Tuesday, April 21: News and Radio/Podcast winners press release.
Thursday, April 23: Education and Documentary winners press release.