FRONTLINE Honored with Two Peabody Awards
The award-winning PBS documentary series was honored with both the Institutional Award and for its 2019 film For Sama.
The George Foster Peabody Awards announced today that the PBS investigative documentary series FRONTLINE was the recipient of two 2020 Peabody Awards – honoring the series with both this year’s prestigious Institutional Peabody Award, and for its 2019 film For Sama.
In giving the Institutional Award to FRONTLINE, the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors recognized FRONTLINE’s legacy — how the documentary series quickly established itself “as the preeminent home for hard-hitting, thoughtful, and consequential journalism on television” after it’s 1983 launch by founder and former executive producer David Fanning — and how in recent years, FRONTLINE has “not rested on its laurels,” but has flourished under the leadership of executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath. The jurors noted that under Aronson-Rath’s leadership the organization has “not only thrived by continuing its robust output of films (with even greater diversity of filmmakers), but also expanded its reporting and distribution channels by venturing boldly into the digital era.”
The jurors also praised FRONTLINE for exploring new forms of journalism, developing virtual reality and web-based stories and launching “THE FRONTLINE DISPATCH,” FRONTLINE’s original investigative podcast series. This award acknowledges the series consistent, stalwart excellent journalism “at a time when trust in the media is challenged, when journalists are casually cast as the ‘enemy of the people,’ and when fact-based reporting is often overshadowed by opinion and ideology masquerading as truth.”
“It is a tremendous honor to have the breadth of our work recognized by the Peabody Awards, and we are humbled to be this year’s Institutional Peabody recipient,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “In these tumultuous times, fair, truth-seeking journalism is invaluable. We are grateful to our courageous producers and reporters for their commitment to sharing these stories with the American public, and for WGBH, PBS and CPB for always championing our storytelling.”
For Sama was also the recipient of a 2020 Peabody Award in the Documentary category. The 2019 FRONTLINE documentary in collaboration with Channel 4, Channel 4 News and ITN Productions, was filmed over five years of the brutal Syrian conflict by filmmaker Waad al-Kateab. Al-Kateab captures her life in Aleppo – as she falls in love, gets married to one of the last doctors in Aleppo, becomes a mother as her city crumbled, and faces the impossible choice of whether to stay or flee.
Directed by al-Kateab and Edward Watts and narrated as a message to al-Kateab’s daughter, Sama, For Sama documents the haunting realities of the Syrian conflict — hospitals bombed, children killed, Aleppo turned to rubble — from a rare perspective: that of a mom trying to raise her baby daughter in the middle of a war zone.
The Peabody Awards Board of Jurors recognized For Sama as a “painful and poetic testament,” adding, “we have all seen the war in Syria in countless news reports, but we have not seen it like this.”
Earlier this month, For Sama was honored with both a 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the International TV category, and the John Seigenthaler Prize for Courage in Reporting. The film was also nominated for a 2020 Academy Award for Best Documentary feature, and the recipient of the 2020 BAFTA for Best Documentary feature.
“We are elated to also see For Sama continue to be acknowledged — an incredible distinction we share with Waad, Ed, and our partners at Channel 4, Channel 4 News and ITN Productions,” Aronson-Rath adds.
“FRONTLINE continually brings forward essential stories that illuminate critical issues of our times, and the prestigious Institutional Peabody Award is a fitting honor for their trusted, in-depth journalism,” said WGBH president and CEO Jon Abbott. “We are enormously proud of the excellent work done by the entire Frontline team — Congratulations!”
“Congratulations to Raney Aronson-Rath and the entire FRONTLINE team on this well-deserved honor,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “For almost four decades, FRONTLINE has tackled some of the most controversial and complex issues of our time, exemplifying the kind of serious journalism that is essential for the health and vibrancy of our democracy.”
Since 1940, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards have honored excellence in broadcasting. The awards now recognize excellence in digital storytelling as well. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 78th annual George Foster Peabody Awards ceremony took place virtually.
With today’s honor, FRONTLINE has won 24 Peabody Awards to date. Watch our Peabody award-winning documentary For Sama below: