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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Public media outlets were cited for six 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, announced today by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. NPR received three awards, with one given to reporters Deborah Amos and Kelly McEvers for their coverage of Syria. “NPR’s series of daily news reports about the conflict in Syria was wide ranging, balanced and in depth,” the announcement said. “Veteran foreign correspondent Deb Amos provided critical context and explanation in her reporting that helped listeners understand the complex sectarian and regional factors at play. Her reporting from inside Syria at the scene of a massacre and the capitol Damascus documented spikes in violence.”
“Correspondent Kelly McEvers brought a focus on individual stories that made the conflict real in human terms,” the citation said.
Big Money 2012 is an ongoing cross-pollination between PBS’s Frontline and American Public Media’s Marketplace that works to incorporate traditional news documentaries with online multimedia reports and print investigations.
PBS topped all the other broadcast networks, as runners-up ABC and CBS each won seven. POV’s “Last Train Home,” a film about Chinese migrant workers who go home to celebrate New Year’s, won in two categories — best documentary and outstanding business and economic reporting (long form) — while “Armadillo,” which tracked Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, was cited for editing in the documentary and long form category. Also in the long-form category, “Enemies of the People,” which examined Cambodia’s killing fields, won for outstanding investigative journalism; and “Where Soldiers Come From,” about National Guard recruits from northern Michigan, was cited for its continuing coverage of a news story. All films aired during 2011, POV’s 25th season. “Many of the filmmakers honored tonight have taken tremendous risks to tell these stories of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances,” said Cynthia López, co-executive producer of POV.
The promotion, announced during the Television Critics Association Press Tour last month, was widely reported as an indication that Aronson will succeed founding Executive Producer David Fanning atop PBS’s investigative news centerpiece.