20/20, Judy Woodruff and PBS NewsHour Among 2021 Peabody Award Winners

By A.J. Katz 

On Thursday, the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors unveiled all 30 programs representing the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and streaming media during 2020.

“Whether documenting the horrors and struggles of Covid-19, amplifying critical discussions around police brutality, or simply entertaining us with heartfelt stories about our shared humanity, the Peabody 30 winners represent the very best in compelling storytelling.” executive director of Peabody Jeffrey P. Jones said in a statement. “Spanning mediums and genres, they told urgent and powerful stories despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic and an often relentless hostility towards the press. It is an honor to celebrate their fantastic work.”

Below, the TV news winners:


ABC News’ 20/20 won a Peabody Award for its two-hour documentary special with Louisville Courier-Journal on Breonna Taylor.

ABC News 20/20 and The Courier Journal’s two-hour documentary special presents a holistic picture of the events that led to the police killing of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020. Tracing the botched police investigations and operation that resulted in officers arriving at Taylor’s apartment building, this report is a lucid investigation that goes for the granular without losing sight of the systemic and structural fissures that led to her death. Exhaustive forensic reporting paints Taylor as more than the symbol she’s become, yet also reminds us why this case symbolizes how the demands for justice and police reform are so necessary.

Actress Taraji P. Henson presented the award.


PBS NewsHour had a big night. Anchor Judy Woodruff won the first-ever Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity.

A mentor to many young journalists, Woodruff is founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, which promotes women in journalism and communications worldwide. She has been a visiting Professor at Duke University and a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. Her reporting also earned her many of the top awards in journalism including the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award, the Walter Cronkite Award, and the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.

She is tireless in her commitment to public service, which reaches beyond television, and has dedicated her platform and her voice as a mother to the empowerment of people with disabilities.

Throughout her career, Woodruff has been an outspoken advocate of the First Amendment, upholding the importance of a free and unfettered press as critical to the survival of our democracy. Never has that been more critical—never has journalistic integrity been more critical—than where we find ourselves today.

For her extraordinary contributions to American television, for her groundbreaking work, and for her commitment to telling us the truth, the Board of Jurors is proud to salute Judy Woodruff with the first-ever Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity.

Jane Fonda presented the award.


The NewsHour also won a Peabody for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Relentless and comprehensive reporting from PBS NewsHour gave us the best news coverage of a once-in-a-century global pandemic. Their work on “Global Pandemic” covered the pandemic’s human toll on five continents, in countries already hit hard by war, famine, and death. In the United States, “Making Sense: The Victims of Covid” put a spotlight on the millions who lost their jobs, the devastating impact on restaurants, and the near shutdown of the travel industry, while shedding new light on how the pandemic revealed and exacerbated astonishing racial disparities in American health outcomes.

ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts presented the award.


Additionally, the evening newscast won a Peabody for its story Desperate Journey.

The plight of migrants and refugees is often fraught with danger, but the Darien Gap, a treacherous and lawless 66-mile trail through the wilderness on the border of Columbia and Panama, might be the most dangerous path to freedom on the planet. PBS special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico put themselves at great risk to join this caravan. What could be more consequential in helping viewers to understand the desperation of these migrants than the image of them stepping over the skeletal remains of those who have gone before them and failed?

Actress America Ferrera presented the award.


The award-winning Vice on Showtime earned a 2021 Peabody for its story Losing Ground.

For most Americans, owning a home or land is their greatest source of wealth, one they proudly pass to the next generation. In Losing Ground, Vice’s Alzo Slade deftly explores how a little-known type of ownership known as “heirs property” leaves African-Americans especially vulnerable to losing their property to unscrupulous developers through arcane and ethically questionable legal mechanisms. Like many lawful processes, the abstract maneuvers occur in piecemeal, hard-to-follow fashion, but the cumulative result is all too real and devastating: entire families are displaced and inheritances lost. With accessible good humor and unaffected curiosity, Losing Ground humanizes a dry and complicated issue, dramatizing how the law so often favors the ruthless.

Questlove presented the award: