Last Days lands Oscar nom; CPI, ProPublica recognized for data projects

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Sailors push a helicopter off a landing platform of the U.S.S. Kirk to clear room for more helicopters dropping off refugees. Last Days in Vietnam received an Oscar nomination for best documentary. (Photo: Courtesy of Hugh Doyle.)

Sailors push a helicopter off a landing platform of the U.S.S. Kirk to clear room for more helicopters dropping off refugees. Last Days in Vietnam received an Oscar nomination for best documentary. (Photo: Courtesy of Hugh Doyle.)

Last Days in Vietnam scored PBS’s American Experience its ninth Academy Award nomination.

Rory Kennedy produced and directed the film for AmEx, a documentary series that has run since 1995. CPB provided support for the film.

Last Days in Vietnam was nominated in the Best Documentary category, marking Kennedy’s first nomination.

“When we conceived of this film three years ago, we knew it was a powerful story of individual acts of courage set against a background of chaos,” said American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels on the show’s blog. “But we didn’t know how relevant it would prove to be. We are honored to have Last Days in Vietnam recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.”

Last Days in Vietnam premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

The Center for Public Integrity and ProPublica won the top two Philip Meyer Awards, honoring their use of advanced statistical analysis to uncover hidden trends.

The first-place award was given to CPI for “Medicare Advantage Money Grab,” a multistory project exposing bloated payouts to health-care providers. Fred Schulte, David Donald, Erin Durkin and Chris Zubak-Skees combed through “complex and voluminous government data” and “aptly dissected the shocking shortcomings of a program that was meant to stabilize costs,” according to the award announcement.

Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lena Groeger at ProPublica earned the second-place award for “Temporary Work, Lasting Harm.” Prompted by anecdotal evidence that temporary hires face more and graver injuries than permanent workers, the reporters used multiple data sets to uncover a statistical trend.

The Philip Meyer Award, named after the grandfather of data analysis among journalists, is bestowed by Investigative Reporters and Editors, the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting and the Knight Chair at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. ProPublica and CPI are the only public media organizations to have received the award.