WGBH News and Media Relations


April 27, 2015

WGBH’s American Experience and Frontline Win Peabody Awards

American Experience’s Freedom Summer and Frontline’s United States of Secrets honored for excellence in documentary filmmaking for television

BOSTON, Mass. (April 27, 2015) – WGBH has been awarded two George Foster Peabody Awards for its American Experience and Frontline productions. American Experience’s Freedom Summer and Frontline’s United States of Secrets received honors from the 74th annual awards for excellence in documentary filmmaking.

Written, produced, and directed by Stanley Nelson, Freedom Summer was broadcast on PBS in June 2014 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the deadly summer of 1964, when student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in Mississippi. The Peabody Award citation noted that Freedom Summer recalls the voter registration drives as “a campaign planned and trained for like a Civil Rights D-Day. The documentary is not only inspiring and instructive, it holds surprises even for those who believe they know this epochal American story.”

This marks the 17th Peabody Award for American Experience; two of Nelson’s previous films for the series, The Murder of Emmett Till and Freedom Riders, were also honored with Peabody Awards.

United States of Secrets, Frontline’s two-part investigation of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities post-9/11, also received a Peabody Award. Part One, from Michael Kirk, traced the secret political history of the U.S. government’s mass surveillance program. Part Two, from Martin Smith, examined how Silicon Valley feeds the NSA’s global surveillance dragnet.

“With extensive, candid interviews from both critics and defenders, FRONTLINE provided a great public service, revealing in clear, comprehensible detail how the U.S. government in its post-9/11 zeal came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world – and here at home – and the lengths to which officials have gone to hide the massive surveillance from the public,” said the Peabody Awards announcement.

The award is Kirk’s second Peabody in as many years; his investigation into the NFL’s concussion crisis, League of Denial, won last year. This is FRONTLINE’s 17th Peabody Award.

“Public media has long been one of the best places to find stories that reveal new information and untold perspectives about our history, institutions and culture. WGBH is proud to keep that tradition alive and this recognition from the Peabody Awards underscores our commitment to that goal,” said John Bredar. “Congratulations to the American Experience and Frontline teams for producing excellent documentary work year after year.”

The Peabody Awards will be presented on May 31. Based at University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody Awards are the oldest in electronic media and among the world’s most prestigious and selective prizes. They recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, podcasters, producing organizations and individuals. The 18-member Peabody Board is a distinguished panel of television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts. For more information, visit www.peabodyawards.com.



WGBH Media Relations

Emily Balk

Catherine Burke