FRONTLINE Wins George Polk Award for “American Insurrection”
Mon, Feb. 21 — The George Polk Awards program at Long Island University announced today that American Insurrection, an April 2021 investigative documentary from FRONTLINE, ProPublica and the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, has won The George Polk Award in the National Television Reporting category.
From director Rick Rowley, correspondent and producer A.C. Thompson, and producers Karim Hajj and Jacqueline Soohen, the 90-minute documentary was lauded by the Polk Awards as “an eye-opening examination of emboldened extremist activity across the country.” American Insurrection investigated the evolution of violent extremism in America from the wake of the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally through the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“We are grateful to see American Insurrection and the unflinching investigative team behind the film be recognized by the George Polk Awards program,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of FRONTLINE. “We share this honor with our editorial partners at ProPublica and UC Berkeley, and with WNET’s Exploring Hate, who generously supported this project.”
“I’m so thrilled to receive this honor,” Thompson says. “American Insurrection was a massive and crazy team effort that brought together FRONTLINE, UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Project, Midnight Films and ProPublica. I think the Polk award is proof that collaboration is the model for journalism today.”
He adds: “I also have to say that this film first aired roughly a year ago. In my view, the threats to the stability of our democracy have only grown since then.”
Airing in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, the documentary from the award-winning investigative team examined how far-right groups were emboldened and encouraged by former President Donald Trump, how individuals were radicalized and brought into the extremist landscape — and what fears and threats are emerging, going forward.
Given annually for more than 70 years, The George Polk Awards at Long Island University recognize exceptional work in long-form investigative or enterprise journalism, saluting storytelling that “focuses on the intrepid, bold and influential work of the reporters themselves,” and that “place[s] a premium on investigative work that is original, resourceful and thought-provoking.”
Among the other 2022 George Polk Award winners was FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative partner Tampa Bay Times, which won the Local Reporting award for revealing unsafe conditions inside and around Florida’s Gopher Resource lead-smelting factory, including dangerously high levels of lead in the air. The reporting, supported by FRONTLINE, was recognized by the Polk Awards program for “provok[ing] action by federal, state and local regulators to improve conditions, address worker health issues and sanction the company.”
“We’re delighted and proud to see the dogged reporting from our local journalism partners at the Tampa Bay Times recognized by the George Polk Awards, too,” adds Aronson-Rath.
Including this year’s win, FRONTLINE has earned seven George Polk Awards to date. You can watch the winning FRONTLINE documentary below.