On Sunday night, January 31, New York City’s PBS station, Thirteen/WNET, aired Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism, a one-hour special hosted by journalist Maria Hinojosa showing clips (and interviews with the winners) from some of the 14 programs that won the 2010 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. This was not the usual kind of awards show; evening-dressed reporters and producers were not seen receiving their awards (although this ceremony has been broadcast on PBS for the past 25 years). The (private) ceremony was held at Columbia on January 21 and awarded programs that were aired in the U.S. between July, 2008 and June, 2009.
I’d provide a site link to Telling the Truth…, but neither Thirteen nor PBS have descriptions for this program on their sites, at least not links I could find, despite numerous and different kinds of searches. Which makes this a good time to say that PBS’ Web site is cumbersome to navigate and Thirteen’s is just plain awful – a genuine IT tragedy, considering the fine quality of public television programming and PBS’ recently announced plans to make greater use of their and individual stations’ online extensions. However, for more information about the purpose and history of the awards, visit the Journalism School at Columbia University, where you'll also find complete details on all of this year’s winners.
The annual Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards are always a heartening reminder that regardless of the general mediocrity of the three major 24-hour cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC and FOX, none of which received awards); the ever-decreasing quantity and quality of broadcast network (CBS, NBC, ABC) national/international news; and the banality and sensationalism of most local news nationwide, there is in fact important, high-quality news programming to be found on television – but you have to keep a keen and constant eye out for it.
A lot of the best TV news comes from documentaries, both individual films and documentary film series, like PBS’ Frontline, which won an award this year for the film Pakistan: Children of the Taliban, about the threat to Pakistani society and secular government from the Taliban’s radical Islamic education of 1.5 million Pakistani children and its terrorist conscription of as many of those kids as possible.