Peabodys Honor Filmmaker Sam Pollard, PBS’ Judy Woodruff With Special Awards

Sam Pollard Judy Woodruff
Sam Pollard and Judy Woodruff Peabody

EXCLUSIVE: Peabody on Thursday said that documentary producer-director and film and TV editor Sam Pollard has been awarded the Peabody Career Achievement Award, while longtime PBS and CNN anchor Judy Woodruff has won the Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity.

The honors come after the organization earlier this week gave Ava DuVernay’s Array its Institutional Award. The 30 winners of the 81st annual Peabody Awards will be unveiled later this month during a multi-day virtual presentation.

Pollard’s honor, given to individuals “whose work and commitment to broadcasting and digital media have left an indelible mark on the field and in American culture,” rewards a career of chronicling the Black experience via credits that include the landmark docus Eyes on the Prize II, Slavery By Another Name, August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand and Two Trains Runnin’. His director credits include Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me, Mr. Soul!, the six-part Discovery Channel series Why We Hate and last year’s MLK/FBI and HBO’s Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children, that latter of which was nominated for a Peabody this year.

Pollard’s several collaborations with Spike Lee include editing Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers and Bamboozled, and co-producing the Oscar-nominated Four Little Girls and When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts which won a Peabody and three Emmys.

“Over the course of his storied career, the multi-hyphenate editor-producer-director-writer has demonstrated a masterful command of so many facets of filmmaking,” said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody. “Whether evaluating prominent Black historical figures or documenting the persistent state of racial inequality in America, Pollard has approached each project not only as an expert filmmaker, but also as a conscientious journalist and virtuosic historian.”

Here’s Pollard’s acceptance speech for the award, which was presented via video by Raoul Peck:

Woodruff, currently anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, was given the special award designated this year to honor “the sustained achievement of the highest professional standards of journalism, as well as personal integrity in reporting the news in challenging times.” Jane Fonda presented Woodruff with the honor via video:

Woodruff has covered every presidential campaign and convention since 1976 and has moderated numerous national election debates while covering politics and other news for five decades at NBC, CNN and PBS. At PBS from 1983-93 she was the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and from 1984-90 anchored PBS’ documentary series Frontline with Judy Woodruff. She moved to CNN in 1993 and she served as anchor and senior correspondent for 12 years.

She returned to the NewsHour in 2007, and in 2013 she and the late Gwen Ifill were named the first two women to co-anchor a national news broadcast.

“Given the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, the Peabody Board of Jurors felt it important to honor an individual who has dedicated her life to reporting at the highest caliber with integrity no matter the challenges. After half a century of stellar reporting on everything from the Reagan White House to the Iraq War, no one deserves this award more than the esteemed Judy Woodruff,” said Jones. “She is a trailblazer for women journalists and a role model for journalists committed to illuminating the truth at any cost.”

In addition to honoring Woodruff, Peabody also offered “notable commendation” to journalism crews, the unsung heroes of news, for all they did in 2020 to serve the public.

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