Athens, Ga. – Thirty-nine recipients of the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for the year 2012, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the UGA Campus.
The latest Peabody recipients reflect diversity in content, genre and sources of origination.
They include “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s HBO comedy-drama about the young and the feckless in New York; “Putin, Russia and the West,” a compelling portrait of a modern-day czar; “Rapido y Furioso (Fast and Furious),” Univision’s Mexican perspective on the infamous Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive gun-tracking debacle; “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” a sterling magazine series that springboards from athletics; “Robin’s Journey,” a public-service campaign created around “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts’ treatment for a rare blood disease; and “Design Ah!,” an imaginative Japanese series aimed at developing children’s creative vision.
“Reviewing submissions for Peabody consideration is a truly exciting process,” said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards. “Producers and organizations send us their best work from the previous year. It is an astonishing array of outstanding media accomplishment. From this array, we must select the ‘best of the best.’ It’s not always easy, but it always demonstrates the meaning of true excellence in electronic media.”
International recipients also included “Salat (Bone Dry),” a report by the Philippine magazine series “Reel Time” about malnourished children; “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished,” a sobering dispatch from a little-covered civil war zone; and a pair of hard-hitting documentaries from ITV’s “Exposure” series: “The Other Side of Jimmy Savile” dealt with posthumous revelations that a beloved, knighted TV star was a sexual predator; and “Banaz: An Honour Killing” detailed the case of an independent-minded Kurdish-British woman murdered by her own family. A Canadian winner, the documentary “Under Fire: Journalists in Combat,” explored the mindset and motivation of war correspondents and the dangers they increasingly face.
Local television news reports honored included “Ford Escape: Exposing a Deadly Defect,” an investigative series by KNXV in Phoenix that led to a recall of more than 700,000 SUVs; “Investigating the IRS,” an exposé of billions of dollars in fraudulent tax-claim payouts; and “Investigating the Fire,” Denver station WMGH’s probe of a controlled burn by Colorado state foresters that turned deadly. WVIT, a West Hartford, CT, station that also serves nearby Newtown, was awarded a Peabody for its quick response and comprehensive coverage of “Breaking News: Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Other entertainment winners included the FX series “Louie,” comedian Louis C.K.’s serrated, boundary-testing take on being a single, showbiz dad; “Southland,” TNT’s richly nuanced drama about Los Angeles police; “Inside the National Recording Registry,” a delightful series of radio documentaries about recorded music chosen for inclusion in that archive; and “Switched at Birth,” an ABC Family drama whose multicultural elements include major characters who are deaf.
“Our list of Peabody recipients for 2012 demonstrates the range of superb work,” Newcomb said. “From local to national to international, from radio to television, broadcast to cable to web, the Peabody sets the goals for every type of media production. We’ll continue to do this, no matter how the world of electronic media develops.”
Peabodys also went to “Game Change,” an HBO film about how Sarah Palin was catapulted into the national political spotlight, and “D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List,” a mock documentary on Comedy Central in which the comedian campaigned to get black men the “same EPA protections” as the Kaman cave cricket and the Texas kangaroo rat.
“Doctor Who,” the ever-evolving, ever-clever BBC science fiction series now entering its second half century, was awarded an Institutional Peabody, as was Michael Apted’s remarkable “Up” series of documentaries that have assayed the lives of 14 Britons at seven-year intervals since 1964.
A rare Individual Peabody was awarded to Lorne Michaels, now in his 37th year as executive producer of “Saturday Night Live” and still discovering new comic talents, incubating ideas and nurturing careers.
The documentary honorees underscored the vital, variegated state of the non-fiction form. They included the Smithsonian Channel’s “MLK: The Assassination Tapes,” in which rare archival footage was fused into a gripping reconstruction of the events surrounding the Civil Rights leader’s 1968 murder; “Sheikh Jarrah, My Neighborhood,” an encouraging Al Jazeera report about a Palestinian-Israeli interaction in an East Jerusalem neighborhood; and “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present,” an HBO film about the performance-art pioneer that’s as challenging and outrageous as she is.
Other documentaries winning Peabodys included “The Loving Story,” a poignant film shown on HBO about a couple infamously arrested in 1958 for daring to marry across racial lines; “Summer Pasture,” an “Independent Lens” film that chronicled a nomadic Tibetan family’s natural and political hardships; and “Why Poverty?,” a collection of eight distinctively different films from Steps International that explored aspects of that human condition historically and here and now.
Other radio winners included “Teen Contender,” a “Radio Diaries” entry that shadowed a teenaged boxer on her quest to fight on the U.S. Olympic team; “The Leonard Lopate Show,” WNYC Radio’s noble, nimble daily consideration of New York City’s art, political and cultural life; and “What Happened at Dos Erres,” a “This American Life” spellbinder about a Guatemalan immigrant who learns that the man he believed to be his father actually led the massacre of his village.
News winners also included two “60 Minutes” segments that demonstrated the magazine show’s range. “Deception at Duke” dug deep into allegations of fraud in a prestigious Duke University doctor’s cancer-cure research findings. “Joy in the Congo” celebrated the emergence of a home-grown symphony orchestra in that war-ravaged African republic.
ABC News’ presciently planned, comprehensive coverage of “Superstorm Sandy” was honored with a Peabody, as was CNN’s thorough, voluminous and well-contextualized “Coverage Inside Syria and Homs 2012.” NPR’s detailed, daring coverage of Syria’s descent into chaos by Deborah Amos and Kelly McEvers was also a winner.
The two websites receiving Peabody Awards demonstrate the breadth of styles and content that this medium can accommodate. SCOTUSblog is a treasure trove mostly of text–archival material, updates, analysis–about the daily and historic workings of the Supreme Court, while “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” on The New York Times’ website, explored the cause and toll of an avalanche in Washington state primarily through spectacular graphics and aerial video.
These 39 Peabodys will be formally presented at a luncheon ceremony on May 20 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York. Scott Pelley, anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” will be this year’s emcee.