CNN series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (pictured) and NFB-backed digital project A Short History of the Highrise were among the winners at the 73rd annual George Foster Peabody Awards, alongside a host of acclaimed feature documentaries.
Al Jazeera America picked up two prizes, and two specials about the NFL – PBS Frontline’s League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis and ESPN’s Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis – were also among the Peabody winners, which this year numbered a record 46 recipients.
Among the feature docs to pick up prizes were Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God; Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In; Sarah Burns, Ken Burns and David McMahon’s The Central Park Five; Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War; Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts; Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine’s Life According to Sam; and David France’s How to Survive a Plague.
A Peabody was also given to A Needed Response, a 25-second critique of rape culture made by two students and posted on YouTube.
“The quality of storytelling in electronic media continues to increase year-after-year, across platforms, producing organizations and nations,” said Jeffrey P Jones, director of the Peabody Awards. “The unprecedented number of awards we gave this year reflects this fact. There simply are a larger number of stories that deserve our attention as citizens and consumers.”
The honorees will receive their Peabody prizes at a ceremony in New York on May 19, which this year – for the first time – will be televised on Participant Media’s TV network Pivot.
The full list of non-fiction winners follows below, with comments provided by the Peabody Awards’ judges.
180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (PBS)
National Black Programming Consortium, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS
Chronicling a year at Washington Metropolitan, aka DC Met, it’s an intimate, unvarnished portrait of a high-poverty high school and the challenges facing students, teachers and administrators.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (PBS)
Thirteen, Inkwell Films, Kunhardt McGee Productions in association with Ark Media
A long time coming, not to mention five years in the making, Gates’ history of African Americans, their trials, their triumphs and their ongoing influence on this nation, reaches back five centuries to find stories that inspire, unsettle, surprise and illuminate.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
CNN, Zero Point Zero Production
Whether Bourdain’s tireless search for new taste experiences takes him to Myanmar or Detroit, he never fails to find great stories to go with the food.
Best Kept Secret (PBS)
American Documentary / POV, BKS Films
The “secret” at Newark’s poor John F. Kennedy High School is its unexpectedly resourceful program for special-needs students, especially autistic teens. This documentary – frank, poignant, never simplistic – immerses viewers in the struggles of three autistic kids and one dedicated teacher.
The Central Park Five (PBS)
Florentine Films, WETA
A tragic story, finally told in full, The Central Park Five reexamines not only the case of black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were railroaded and wrongly imprisoned for a rape but the climate of fear and the media frenzy that surrounded their trial.
A Chef’s Life (PBS)
Markay Media in association with South Carolina ETV (SCETV)
A cooking/reality series revolving around a high-end, farm-to-fork restaurant in South Carolina’s low country, it’s made all the more appetizing by generous sides of local color, stereotype-defying rural neighbors and Southern food-lore.
Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombings (WBZ-TV, Boston, and WBZ Newsradio 1030)
WBZ-TV, WBZ Newsradio 1030
Out in force to cover the annual marathon, both WBZ-TV and Newsradio 1030 had a journalistic advantage when the bombs detonated. Neither gave it up as their reporters spent hour after hour on the air providing wide-ranging, enterprising, non-sensational coverage of the casualties, the suspects and the intense, nerve-wracking manhunt. They become crucial sources not just to their city but to a stunned nation.
Coverage of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) (GMA Network, Philippines)
Facing logistical challenges and sharing in the national shock in the face of what may have been the most powerful typhoon is history, GMA news teams provided desperately needed spot news coverage and information, gaining strength and perspective as they worked, and followed up with solid reporting on the aftermath, heroic acts and relief efforts.
Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera (Al Jazeera America)
Al Jazeera America
Nearly 8,000 Haitians have died of cholera since the island was devastated by an earthquake in 2010, and more than half a million others have been infected. Fault Lines presses for accountability as it reports mounting scientific evidence that U.N. peacekeepers were the source of the epidemic.
Fault Lines: Made in Bangladesh (Al Jazeera America)
Al Jazeera America
Probing a garment-factory fire in Bangladesh that left at least 119 people dead, Fault Lines discovered evidence that U.S. retailers such as Walmart, whose Faded Glory clothing brand was found in the ashes, often turn a “blind eye” to their subcontractors’ dangerous, cost-cutting practices.
FRONTLINE: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis (PBS)
FRONTLINE, Kirk Documentary Group
Undeterred by the National Football League’s defense, FRONTLINE’s investigative team produced a solidly-sourced, high-impact documentary about the extent of brain damage among players, a story still reverberating throughout the world of sports.
Great Performances: Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (PBS)
B’WAY Films, Ghost Light Films, Albert M. Tapper and THIRTEEN for WNET
Historically fascinating and grandly entertaining, it’s a tune-filled dissertation on the incalculable influence of Jewish composers – from Irving Berlin to Stephen Sondheim to Stephen Schwartz – and Jewish musical idioms on the evolution of a great American art form.
Hanford’s Dirty Secrets (KING-TV, Seattle)
KING 5 Television
Centering on a leaking nuclear-waste storage tank in Washington state, the Seattle station’s expose of mismanagement, deception and waste of tax dollars resulted in a full review of the Hanford nuclear “reservation” by the U.S. Department of Energy and resignations at the company that manages the toxic site.
Harper High School (WBEZ Chicago 91.5)
WBEZ Chicago’s This American Life
A trio of This American Life reporters embedded themselves for five month at Harper, a Chicago high school where gun violence was epidemic, and produced a pair of hour-long documentaries that were vivid, unblinking, poignant, and sometimes gut-wrenching.
Experiential aurally and visually, the interactive website lets visitors immerse themselves in the lives of 30 residents of McDowell County, West Virginia, an economically stressed, shrinking American community both unique and emblematic.
In Plain Sight: Poverty in America (NBC & www.plainsight.nbcnews.com)
Many faces and forms of poverty, some predictable, some startling, are highlighted in NBC News’ wide-ranging, multi-platform project, geared to the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of “war” on the scourge.
Independent Lens: How to Survive a Plague (PBS)
How to Survive a Plague, Public Square Films, Impact Partners, Little Punk
A real-life medical thriller, David France’s documentary evokes the alarm and enterprise surrounding AIDS in the late 1980s, when the activists in groups such as ACT UP and TAG took their fates into their own hands and changed the course of a global pandemic.
Independent Lens: The House I Live In (PBS)
Charlotte Street Films, Independent Television Service (ITVS), BBC, ZDF/ARTE, NHK Japan
Forty years and 45 million arrests after the U.S. declared war on them, illegal drugs are cheaper, purer and more available than ever. What went wrong with the campaign? The House I Live In counts the ways, not just with hard statistics but with powerful human stories.
Independent Lens: The Invisible War (PBS)
Chain Camera Productions, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Girls Club Entertainment, RISE films, Fork Films, Cuomo Cole Productions, Canal Plus
With powerful interviews with rape survivors at its core, The Invisible War is the most exhaustive report to date on the extent and causes of sexual assault in the U.S. military.
Inside Syria’s War (BBC World News)
BBC World News America
From gruesome mass-murder scenes outside Homs to displaced children living in caves, the consistent, up-close coverage of Syria’s civil war and its human toll by BBC World News journalists had no equal in 2013.
Latino Americans (PBS)
WETA, LPB (Latino Public Broadcasting), Bosch & Company, ITVS
A revelation no doubt for many viewers, the documentary series’ six fascinating installments traced a people’s history that’s older than the United States itself and showed how Latinos, rendered to foreigners in a land their ancestors colonized, are now reshaping it.
The Law in These Parts (PBS)
American Documentary / POV
The seemingly lighthearted title notwithstanding, Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary is serious, resoundingly significant work—a long, hard look at the legal system his homeland created in 1967 to govern the newly occupied Palestinian territories and what it has meant and still means to both sides in this lasting conflict.
Life According to Sam (HBO)
HBO Documentary Films and Fine Films
Sam Berns, a teenager bearing up to the ravages of a disease that causes accelerated aging with amazing grace, humor and thoughtfulness, is the subject of this great, informative, humane and humbling documentary.
Louisiana Purchased (WVUE-TV, New Orleans, and NOLA.com)
WVUE-TV & NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Plenty big, never easy, this extensive joint TV-newspaper investigation of Louisiana campaign financing – who gives and gets what – put influence peddlers and buyers on notice and provided TV-news operations around the country a template for ambitious digging.
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (HBO)
Jigsaw Productions, HBO Documentary Films, Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
Harrowing and infuriating, Alex Gibney’s investigative documentary focuses on one of the earliest and ugliest cases in the Roman Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal: a Milwaukee priest who abused more than 200 deaf children at a school he oversaw.
A Needed Response (YouTube/Samantha Stendal)
Samantha Stendal, Aaron Blanton
Short, simple and spot-on in its critique of rape culture, the ingenious PSA by two University of Oregon students takes just 25 seconds to make its point that real men treat women with respect.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Questions of Influence (WTVF-TV, Nashville)
In a series of reports capped by an hour-long prime-time special, WTVF’s investigators revealed that running Tennessee state government “like a business,” as the governor had publicly pledged, in reality meant sweetheart deals, no-bid contracts and ethical lapses. A scathing state audit was just one of the results.
One-on-One with Assad (CBS)
CBS THIS MORNING, CBS News
In what was surely the biggest journalistic “get” of 2013, CBS THIS MORNING‘s Charlie Rose sat down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Under Rose’s polite but persistent questioning, Assad gave us a look into the mind of one of the world’s most vicious warmongers, a glimpse of banality and evil.
Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis (ESPN)
Its close business association with the professional football notwithstanding, ESPN produced a tough, wide-reaching documentary on the concussion crisis in the National Football League and its efforts to downplay growing bodies of scientific evidence and brain-injured player complaints.
The Race Card Project (NPR’s Morning Edition)
The Race Card Project, NPR News, NPR’s Morning Edition
Undercutting the term’s political, pejorative meaning, Michelle Norris’ website project and NPR series defines “race card” literally, inviting listeners to share six-word summations of their racial ideas and experiences that became the basis of compelling reports about race, pride, prejudice and identity.
Reveal: The VA’s Opiate Overload (Public Radio)
The Center for Investigative Reporting, Public Radio Exchange (PRX)
Reveal exposed a staggering upswing – 270% over a dozen years – in opiate prescriptions at Veterans Administration hospitals, which has led to an overdose rate among VA patients more than twice the national average.
A Short History of the Highrise (www.nytimes.com)
The New York Times, The National Film Board of Canada
With text, games, antique photos and three storybook-style animated shorts – Mud, Concrete and Glass – the interactive website entertainingly explores 2,500 years of “vertical living.” A fourth feature, Home, catalogues images of multi-story life submitted by the public.
Six by Sondheim (HBO)
HBO Documentary Films and Sabella Entertainment
The “father” of the modern Broadway musical bares some of his art and soul in the engrossing, entertaining documentary. It combines his candid reflections, archival footage and fresh interpretations of six of his iconic songs, including “Send in the Clowns.”
TCM: The Story of Film (TCM)
Turner Classics’ monumental project combined 15 installments of Mark Cousins’ gorgeously constructed and richly layered historical tour of world cinema, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, with full showings of 119 of the movies it covers.
Tom Brokaw: Personal Award
A personal Peabody is given to Tom Brokaw, the longtime reporter and anchor of NBC Nightly News. With his TV projects and celebrated books like The Greatest Generation, the anchor emeritus has only enhanced his reputation since he left the desk in 2004.