“For Sama”, “Surviving R. Kelly” among 2020 Peabody Award-winning docs

Edward Watts and Waad Al-Kateab’s For Sama, RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly are a few of the documentaries to win at the 2020 Peabody ...
June 10, 2020

Edward Watts and Waad Al-Kateab’s For Sama, RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly are a few of the documentaries to win at the 2020 Peabody Awards.

The awards named 30 programs as the “most compelling and empowering stories” released in broadcasting and digital media in 2019.

PBS’s flagship investigative documentary strand ‘Frontline’ and Fox’s long-running animated comedy The Simpsons were recipients of the Institutional Awards.

The honor goes to programs that have made a “significant impact” on media programming and the cultural landscape. American actress Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award on Monday (June 8).

‘Frontline’ has won 20 Peabody Awards since its launch in 1983 by executive producer David Fanning for programs such as Crisis in Central America (1985); Waco: The Inside Story (1995); and The Facebook Dilemma (2018).

“At a time when trust in the media is challenged, when journalists are casually cast as the ‘enemy of the people,’ and when fact-based reporting is often overshadowed by opinion and ideology masquerading as truth, Peabody honors the consistent, stalwart, and excellent journalism ‘Frontline’ offers the American public and the world,” the organization stated in a release.

The Peabody 30 are the “best” of nearly 1,300 entries submitted from television, radio/podcasts and the web across the genres of entertainment, news, documentary, children’s and public service programming.

Winners are chosen unanimously by a board of 19 jurors. The awards are based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

This year, PBS leads with seven, followed by HBO and Netflix with four each. CNN and NBC each reviewed two awards.

First-time winners, AppleTV+ and OWN, join Amazon Prime, Lifetime, and Hulu with one award each. Additional winning platforms include APM, BBC Sounds, Montana Public Radio, Newsday, WBBM Chicago, and WNYC Studios.

This year’s selection calls attention to the racist policing, the persistence of rape culture, the importance of belief in science, immigrant rights, environmental degradation, authoritarian threats to democracy from the past and present, and the will of  families to navigate and survive in times of war and global crisis.

Peabody is partnering with American pubcaster PBS on a roundtable program with all 10 directors of this year’s winning documentaries.

Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Film Festival, will moderate panels with filmmakers. The program will be made available via PBS digital channels June 23.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Peabody Awards Ceremony — originally slated to take place in Los Angeles for the first time on June 18 — is canceled.

A list of the 2020 Peabody Award-winning documentaries are below. To see all 30 winners, visit the organization’s website.


Apollo 11 (CNN Films)

For Sama (pictured; ‘Frontline’, Channel 4 News, ITN Productions, Channel 4)

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (A production of Idiom Film, LLC and Louverture Films, in association with Field of Vision; ‘Independent Lens’)

Inventing Tomorrow (Fishbowl Films, Motto Pictures, 19340 Productions, Shark Island Institute, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, IQ190 Productions, ‘American Documentary’ | ‘POV’)

Midnight Traveler (Old Chilly Pictures LLC, American Documentary | ‘POV,’ Independent Television Service PBS)

The Distant Barking of Dogs (Final Cut for Real, Mouka Filmi, STORY, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ARTE, ‘American Documentary’ | ‘POV’)

The Silence of Others (Semilla Verde Productions, Lucernam Films, ‘American Documentary’ | ‘POV,’ Independent Television Service, Latino Public Broadcasting, El Deseo)

Surviving R. Kelly (Bunim/Murray Productions and Kreativ Inc. for Lifetime )

The Edge of Democracy (A Busca Vida Filmes Production in association with Violet Films for Netflix)

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (HBO Documentary Films and Kunhardt Films)

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