Thirty-eight recipients of the 71st Annual Peabody Awards were announced April 4 by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication as the best in electronic media for the year 2011.
“The range of the Peabody Awards’ search for excellence has never been wider or deeper than this year,” said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards. “Local news organizations covered stories with international importance as well as those significant within their communities. Documentaries and news reports on issues missed or overlooked by big organizations were available on websites. Comedians engaged in political actions. Radio proved again the power of the individual human voice. Drama took on issues of power and control. Images of disaster appeared alongside images of hope and freedom.”
The latest Peabody recipients reflect variety in content, genre and sources of origination.
The winners included Homeland, Showtime’s psychologically intense anti-terrorist drama; the classic game show Jeopardy!; TED.com, a website devoted to making creative thinkers’ ideas available to one and all; remembrances of 9/11 collected by StoryCorps and broadcast on National Public Radio; and Toxic Secrets, a series of reports by Phoenix’s KPHO-TV about American soldiers and South Korean children exposed to Agent Orange three decades ago.
My Perestroika, a documentary that examined Russia’s difficult transition from communism through the prism of five schoolmates who lived through it, was honored with a Peabody, as was Intersexions, a South African public-service drama aimed at curbing the spread of AIDS.
Other international recipients included A Year in the Clouds, a Taiwanese documentary about life in a remote mountain village; People’s Republic of Cheating and Misjudged Cases, a pair of investigative reports from Hong Kong’s TVB; Fuji Television’s The Untold Stories of the Tsunami in Japan, which emphasized human interest as much as gob-smacking flood footage; Somalia: Land of Anarchy, a BBC1 report from deep inside a country decimated by never-ending war; and NHK’s Surviving the Tsunami, a post-mortem of the tidal wave and nuclear disaster with an eye to lessons for the future.
The anti-tyranny demonstrations in the Middle East inspired some of the most impressive news reporting of the year. CNN earned a Peabody with comprehensive “Arab Spring” coverage that included the reports Egypt-Wave of Discontent and Uprising in Libya. National Public Radio’s Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya, reported by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, was cited for its excellence as was Inside Syria, a trio of undercover reports by Clarissa Ward for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Al Jazeera English was cited for its coverage of the escalating wave of protests it labeled the “Arab Awakening.”
The Peabody board also noted CNN’s GPS series, citing Fareed Zakaria’s commentary and analysis regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as a special report, Fixing the American Dream, addressing problems with the U.S. educational system.
Other entertainment programs receiving Peabodys for 2011 include HBO’s Game of Thrones, a fantasy-drama that immerses viewers in a richly imagined Dark-Ages society, and Tremé, a evocation of everyday life, love and music in post-Katrina New Orleans. NBC’s Parks and Recreation was cited for its take on friendship and rivalry within a small town’s parks department; and Portlandia, shown on IFC, was recognized for the freshness and amiability of its send-ups of Oregon’s trendy city.
Austin City Limits, public television’s showcase for roots, rock, country and pop music, was voted an institutional Peabody for its eclectic taste and commitment to quality.
Along with TED.com, the Internet winners for 2011 were BBC.com, a news site that draws on reports from the BBC’s 72 overseas news bureaus; the “On Location” posts on www.globalpost.com, a site devoted to world events neglected by other media outlets; and a pair of online reports created under the banner of Human Rights Watch, Acting Up: Russia’s Civil Society (www.newyorker.com) and Gold’s Costly Dividend: The Porgera Joint Venture (www.hrw.org).
A Peabody was awarded to CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, the program that caps a year-round program created to identify and reward people around the world who affected the lives of others in a significant way.
“As media systems continue to expand and intensify, the Peabody Award will continue its search for excellence and significance,” Newcomb said. “Programs such as those honored this year will always be noted for outstanding achievement and they will always serve as models for the best work yet to come.”
The awards will be formally presented in New York City on May 21.
The complete list of winners is online at www.peabody.uga.edu.