Pubradio contenders dominate radio division of Sigma Delta Chi Awards

Public radio reporters took all nine awards for radio reporting in this year's Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which recognize outstanding reporting on radio, TV and the Web by national and local news organizations. NPR’s Ina Jaffe, Quinn O’Toole and Steven Drummond won for breaking news reporting (network syndication) for “Los Angeles VA Has Made Millions on Rental Deals.” For investigative reporting, John Ryan and Jim Gates of KUOW in Seattle were cited among stations in markets 1–100 for “Shell's Arctic Oil-Spill Gear ‘Crushed Like a Beer Can,’” while Sandy Hausman of WVTF and Radio IQ in Roanoke, Va., won in the 101+ market category for “Naming the Fralin,” about naming the University of Virginia Art Museum. In the feature categories, Linda Lutton, Cate Cahan and Sally Eisele of Chicago’s WBEZ won for “The weight of the city's violence, on one school principal,” and Lance Orozco of KCLU in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for “My Cancer.”

NPR's State of the Re:Union, co-distributed by Public Radio Exchange, won the syndicated documentary award for “As Black as We Wish to Be,” which explored an Appalachian foothills town in Ohio where residents who look white identify as African-American; it was reported and produced by Lu Olkowski, Laura Spero, Taki Telonidis and Al Letson. Alabama Public Radio’s “Winds of Change,” coverage by Pat Duggins, Ryan Vasquez, Maggie Martin and Stan Ingold of a Tuscaloosa tornado, won for smaller-market documentary. The public service in radio journalism winners were “If it's legal: Five ways legal pot could affect your life,” by the staff of Seattle’s KPLU (markets 1–100); Charles Lane and Naomi Starobin of WSHU in Fairfield, Conn., for “State struggled at fire prevention ahead of Manorville blaze.”

In the television categories, San Francisco’s KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting won for large-market (1–50) documentary for “Heat and Harvest,” a report on the effect of climate change on California agriculture by Mark Schapiro, Serene Fang, Gabriela Quiros and Craig Miller.

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Scarce funding limits public media’s response to gun debate

The mass shootings last year in Colorado, Wisconsin and Connecticut reawakened Americans to recurring tragedies of gun violence and rekindled a national debate about gun control — one that public radio and television have chronicled and analyzed through ongoing programs and the package of special broadcasts that aired on PBS last month.

PBS programs capture three WGAW Awards

The Writers Guild of America, West's prize in the children’s–episodic and specials category went to Christine Ferraro for writing Sesame Street’s “The Good Sport.” Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria won the award in the documentary–current events arena for writing the first episode of the Frontline four-part series “Money, Power and Wall Street.” And in the documentary–other than current events category, Randall MacLowry won the award for writing “The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time” for Nova. Founded in 1933, WGAW is a labor union representing writers of movies, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. The awards were presented Feb. 17 in Los Angeles.

Frontline, California Watch cited for outstanding journalism

The Polk Award for documentary television reporting was presented to Frontline correspondent Martin Smith and producer Michael Kirk for the four-part investigative series “Money, Power and Wall Street,” with producers Marcela Gaviria, Mike Wiser and Jim Gilmore cited for their assistance. The documentary “provided a thorough examination of the epic global financial crisis, from its origins to the present day,” said the judges. “The series also dissected and distilled down the complicated subject of the modern credit derivative market and provided a sober look inside the struggle to rescue and repair this country’s battered economy.”

The Polk Award for state reporting went to California Watch’s Ryan Gabrielson for “Broken Shield,” a series that exposed the California’s Office of Protective Services’ poor job of curbing abuse at state clinics. According to the judges, “Gabrielson detailed how investigators were slow to begin investigations, failed to collect evidence and ignored key witnesses — leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes inflicted upon some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The George Polk Awards, presented annually by Long Island University, memorialize a CBS correspondent killed while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. This year’s awards were presented April 11 in New York by Christiane Amanpour of CNN and journalist Carl Bernstein.

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Portrait of a ‘Kind Hearted Woman’ as she finds her voice

Kind-Hearted Woman, David Sutherland's latest documentary series for Frontline is a five-hour story of abuse and triumph for a Native American woman. His meticulous techniques for gathering and mixing sound added six months to the post-production process, yet the filmmaker says they're a key part of his process of creating intimate documentary portraits.

Michael Sullivan, Frontline producer since 1987, departs icon investigative series

Michael Sullivan, a television producer whose name has run near the top of credit rolls of Frontline almost continuously since 1987, has exited the PBS investigative documentary series. His position as executive producer for special projects has been phased out due to a funding shortfall that the series' top executives describe as temporary. The veteran producer oversaw high-profile titles produced by filmmaker David Sutherland, including The Farmer's Wife, the 1998 epic documentary series chronicling the struggles of a Nebraska farming family, and Country Boys, the 2006 series following two teenagers growing up in West Virginia. Sullivan also spearheaded work on Sutherland's latest film, Kind Hearted Woman, to be  co-presented on PBS by Frontline and Independent Lens April 1 and 2. His exit “is certainly a loss,” Frontline Deputy Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath told Current.