FRONTLINE’s For Sama, NOVA’s Decoding COVID-19 and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s Chasing the Moon Recognized for Outstanding Journalism

BOSTON – (February 11, 2021) For the third time, Boston public media producer GBH has been honored with three 2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards for outstanding journalism. The 2021 awards recognized FRONTLINE’s For Sama, a gripping, first-person account of one woman’s experience of the Syrian conflict; NOVA’s Decoding COVID-19, a scientific investigation into the coronavirus pandemic in its early weeks; and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s Chasing the Moon, a look back on the race to land a man on the moon.

Founded in 1942, the duPont-Columbia Awards uphold the highest standards in journalism. Fifteen honorees were named Tuesday evening in a ceremony hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and Michele Norris, Washington Post opinion columnist, in an hour-long presentation.

“What an honor for GBH to receive three prestigious duPont-Columbia Awards, recognizing our signature documentary series for their enduring work across journalism, science and history,” ” said GBH President and CEO Jon Abbott. “Congratulations to our teams at FRONTLINE, NOVA and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE for powerful storytelling that provides insight and perspective on critical issues of our times.””

GBH’s 2021 duPont-Columbia Award winners are:


Filmed over five years of the brutal Syrian conflict by filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, the 2020 Academy Award-nominated documentary aired on FRONTLINE in November 2019. For Sama captures al-Kateab’s life in Aleppo, as she falls in love, gets married to one of the last doctors in the city, becomes a mother as the city around her crumbles, and faces the impossible choice of whether to stay in Syria or flee for safety. 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 unsure of whether her family will survive in the war zone. In the official release from the duPont awards, the judges praised For Sama as “a powerful, harrowing documentary” that offers “a personal lens into [Syria’s] enduring conflict.”

NOVA’s Decoding COVID-19

Written, produced, and directed by Sarah Holt, Decoding COVID-19 is a scientific investigation into the coronavirus that has caused an international public health crisis and turned the world upside down. Filmed in April and May of 2020, during the early weeks of the pandemic’s impact on the U.S., the one-hour documentary reveals the biology of the tiny pathogen devastating lives from Wuhan, China to New York City and follows the unprecedented collaboration among scientists who were racing to develop a vaccine. The film also presents harrowing, humanizing chronicles from the frontlines, following the health care providers, patients and families battling the disease. The duPont panelists noted how “NOVA combined stunning graphics and expert medical analysis with moving human stories…”


Chasing the Moon, a film by Robert Stone, reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The series recasts the Space Age as a fascinating stew of scientific innovation, political calculation, media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. Utilizing a visual feast of previously overlooked and lost archival material — much of which has never before been seen by the public — the film features a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet premier and a leading Soviet rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, a 25-year old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut. The duPont announcement called Chasing the Moon, “thoroughly reported and lovingly crafted...a definitive look at America’s space race.”

“Each of these productions from FRONTLINE, NOVA and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE have achieved an impressive feat - distilling complicated history, science, politics and war into films that not only help viewers better understand the world we live in, but do so in a way that’s accessible to all,” said GBH Vice President for National Programming John Bredar. “We’re so proud of each team for this well-deserved recognition by one of the top journalism organizations in the nation.”

About GBH

GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH produces digital and broadcast programming that engages, illuminates and inspires, through drama and science, history, arts, culture and journalism. It is the creator of such signature programs as MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Arthur and Molly of Denali and a catalog of streaming series, podcasts and on-demand video. GBH’s television channels include GBH 2, GBH 44, GBH Kids and national services WORLD and Create. With studios and a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station. Dedicated to making media accessible to and inclusive of our diverse culture, GBH is a pioneer in delivering media to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired. GBH creates curriculum-based digital content for educators nationwide with PBS LearningMedia and has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at