Peabody Awards: 'Serial,' Vice, NBC's Richard Engel Among News, Radio Winners

Meredith Heuer

The podcast sensation became the first of its kind to win the prestigious media award from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Podcast sensation Serial, Vice News, CNN, NPR, WNYC and NBC's Richard Engel were among the news and radio Peabody Award winners announced Monday.

Serial, the true-crime podcast, which has been downloaded more than 60 million times, became the first of its kind to win a Peabody. Vice News won two Peabody awards for its coverage of ISIS in "The Islamic State," a series of reports from a journalist "embedded" with ISIS volunteers in Iraq and Syria; and "Last Chance High," about a Chicago high school for high-risk students running out of options.

“In addition to the stalwarts of radio and news, winners such as Serial and Vice News demonstrate how new avenues and approaches to storytelling can have a major impact on how we understand truth, reality, and events,” Peabody Awards director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones said in a statement.

CNN, NPR and WNYC Radio each won two Peabody awards. CNN was recognized for its coverage of delays in care at VA hospitals and reporting on the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

NPR won awards for its "Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras" edition of its Latino USA series and for its international coverage of the Ebola outbreak.

WNYC was recognized for 60 Words, its close look at the language of the post-9/11 Authorization of Use of Military Force Act, and its reports on Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal.

NBC News and its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, were awarded a news Peabody for their continuing coverage of ISIS. The honor comes just days after Engel revealed that newly discovered information had led him to revise his account of his 2012 kidnapping in Syria.

Peabody award winners in the categories of individuals, institutions and entertainment have already been announced, with The Americans, Fargo Inside Amy Schumer, Jane the Virgin and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver among the winners in the entertainment category.

Winners in the categories of documentary, public service, education and children’s programming will be announced Thursday.

Bestowed by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody Awards recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and TV stations, networks, webcasters, podcasters, producing organizations and individuals.

The 74th annual Peabody Awards will be presented on Sunday, May 31, at its first nighttime ceremony, hosted by Fred Armisen, a Peabody winner himself, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Pivot will air a 90-minute special of the awards on Sunday, June 21, at 9 p.m. ET.

Full information about this year's news and radio winners follows.

Betrayed by Silence (MRP)
Minnesota Public Radio News
This sobering investigative documentary took listeners inside the child sex-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, uncovering among other things how the archbishop who headed of the committee that wrote the U.S. Catholic Church's landmark abuse policy – the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People – not only failed to follow it but participated in cover-ups.
 
Chris Christie, White House Ambitions and the Abuse of Power (WNYC Radio)
WNYC/New Jersey Public Radio
In a series of pithy news reports about the “Bridgegate” scandal, WNYC helped to link a disruptive bridge closure to a broader pattern of questionable political operations by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office. Its coverage sparked national news attention, high-profile resignations in the Christie administration, and criminal investigations into the Port Authority.
 
The Cost of Troubled Minds (KVUE-TV, Austin, TX)
KVUE News, ABC 24
Reporter Andy Pierrotti’s heavily documented investigation of Texas’ mental-health care policies demonstrated that the state’s penny wisdom has been profoundly pound foolish. Cutbacks and indifference ending up costing taxpayers more.
 
CNN’s Coverage of Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls
CNN
CNN approached the Boko Haram kidnapping horror from many angles, even moving Isha Sesay’s daily show to Abuja to raise the profile of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Sesay’s tough, live-TV interviewing, along with high-risk field reporting of Nima Elbagir, Arwa Damon and other CNN journalists, made the network’s coverage comprehensive and indispensable
 
CNN Investigative Reports: Crisis at the VA
CNN
High-impact journalism, CNN’s investigation into delays in care at Veteran Affairs hospitals exposed a systemic VA breakdown, eventually leading to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the passage of federal legislation, and a dramatic change in how veterans’ medical appointments are made, recorded and reported.

ISIS - Continuing Coverage (NBC, MSNBC)
NBC News, MSNBC
Reports on NBC and MSNBC about the rise of ISIS had an unsurpassed depth, contextualization and clarity thanks in large part to NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, whose years of experience in the Middle East proved invaluable.
 
The Islamic State (VICE News)
VICE News
Journalist Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks filming inside the self-proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State, and his resulting VICE News reports are remarkably up-close and enlightening, sometimes surreal, sometimes terrifying.
 
Last Chance High (VICE News)
VICE News
Students at Chicago’s idyllic-sounding Montefiore Therapeutic Day School are actually one mistake away from jail or a mental hospital. This dramatic series of web reports and podcasts delved sympathetically but unsentimentally into their lives, contextualizing their problems and giving them a chance to speak.
 
NPR's Latino USA: Gangs, Murder, and Migration in Honduras (NPR)
Futuro Media Group, Round Earth Media, Radio Progreso, Freelance Producers
Vivid and scary, this hour-long report by Maria Hinojosa and “Latino USA” producer Marlon Bishop makes it clear why large numbers of Hondurans seek to escape the violence back home and enter the U.S.
 
Reporting From The Frontlines: The Ebola Outbreak (NPR, npr.org)
National Public Radio
NPR had a reporter in Guinea in early April, months before even world health officials understood the magnitude of the Ebola threat, and its coverage throughout 2014 was unsurpassed in scope and variety: insightful reports that didn't feature just Western experts, but also doctors, nurses, government officials from the heart of where Ebola was breaking out.
 
Serial (www.serialpodcast.org)
Serial/This American Life/Chicago Public Media
A audio game-changer, this compelling, multi-episode podcast closely examined the evidence against an 18-year-old facing a life sentence for murder, illuminating disturbing flaws in the justice system along the way. The first unquestionably mainstream podcast, it has been downloaded nearly 60 million times.
 
60 Words (WNYC Radio)
WNYC
A “Radiolab” collaboration with Buzzfeed reporter Gregory Johnsen, it takes a hard, disturbing look at the broad, malleable wording of the Authorization of Use of Military Force Act, approved by near-unanimous Congressional vote shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and how its interpretation has expanded military power and secrecy.
 
State of the Re: Union (NPR and PRX)
State of the Re: Union and WJCT Public Broadcasting, Jacksonville
The great news about SOTRU is that it purveys good news– not soft, sugarcoated features but grassroots reporting that demonstrates how everyday people, both rural and urban, are figuring out ways to tackle their communities’ problems.
 
Under the Radar (Scripps Washington Bureau)
Scripps Washington Bureau
Mark Greenblatt’s outstanding, exhaustive investigative review of court martial cases uncovered more than 240 convicted rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders who have slipped through loopholes that allow them to stay off public sex-offender registries when they leave the brig and return to civilian life.

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