“The Gang Crackdown” and “Bitter Rivals” awarded 2019 duPont-Columbia Gold Baton

FRONTLINE, the acclaimed PBS investigative series, has been honored with a Gold Baton, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards’ highest honor — a prestigious award for excellence in journalism that hasn’t been given for a decade.

In a recognition of FRONTLINE’s dynamic range of work across multiple platforms — including broadcast documentaries, digital interactive storytelling, and an original, narrative podcast — the series was acknowledged by the duPonts for being both “a standard-bearer and innovator.”

“This year FRONTLINE produced an exceptional lineup of outstanding programs that illustrated how well it both champions traditional documentaries while also forging ahead with cutting edge, adaptive content,” the duPont citation reads, pointing to eight FRONTLINE projects that exemplify the scope of the series’ work: six FRONTLINE documentaries on both domestic and international issues (Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi ArabiaMyanmar’s Killing FieldsMosulPutin’s RevengeThe Gang Crackdown; and Life on Parole, in collaboration with The New York Times); a two-part story from the new podcast series, The FRONTLINE Dispatch (Living With Murder, pts. 1 & 2, in collaboration with Transom.org); and an interactive digital documentary about climate change in collaboration with The GroundTruth Project, The Last Generation.

“This Gold Baton is an acknowledgement of FRONTLINE’s evolution from a longstanding documentary series to a multi-platform journalism organization, that is also committed to uncovering vital stories and telling them in new ways,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who has led FRONTLINE since 2015 and is herself a graduate of Columbia Journalism School. “From our long-form documentaries, to our audio stories, to our digital interactives – it is an incredible honor to have the full breadth of FRONTLINE’s work this year recognized by the duPont jury in this way. Thank you to PBS, CPB and WGBH; all of our funders; and our audience for their constant support and for encouraging us to push the boundaries of our storytelling.”

The last Gold Baton given was awarded to WFAA-TV Dallas as part of the 2009 duPont-Columbia Awards. Prior to this year’s Gold Baton, FRONTLINE had earned two Gold Batons tied to its 1988-89 and 1996-1997 seasons, and one for its post-Sept. 11, 2001 documentaries on terrorism and counter-terrorism. This year’s is the first Gold Baton to honor a body of work that includes a podcast and an interactive digital documentary.

“Congratulations to FRONTLINE for receiving the Gold Baton at this year’s duPont-Columbia University Awards,” says Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Raney Aronson-Rath and her team are second to none when it comes to investigative journalism, and all of us at PBS are thrilled to see FRONTLINE recognized with this richly deserved honor.”

“This recognition for FRONTLINE highlights the critical role of serious, fact-based journalism in our democracy. Their groundbreaking work has set the bar for investigative reporting, work we are committed to in public media,” says Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH in Boston, where FRONTLINE is headquartered. “We are extremely proud of the inspired leadership of Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath and the extraordinary work of the entire FRONTLINE team.”

 

 

Rain Media Wins Writer’s Guild Award

Confronting ISIS, Rain Media’s October 2016 investigation of the complexities and challenges of the U.S.-led fight against the terror group, won the “Documentary Script — Current Events” category at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards on February 11th, 2018.

“I am honored that the guild has recognized our film. Sadly, we found that the inequities and sectarianism that gave rise to ISIS still prevail across the Middle East,” said Smith, who while making the documentary reported from five countries with key roles in the anti-ISIS fight — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. “I’d like to thank FRONTLINE executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath for her unwavering editorial support and acumen and all my colleagues for their extraordinary dedication and intelligence.”

Rain Media Wins a Peabody Award

Confronting ISIS, an investigation of the complexities and challenges of the U.S.-led fight against the terror group, was named a George Foster Peabody Award winner for excellence in documentary filmmaking on April 18th, 2017.

An October 2016 film from writer, reporter and producer Martin Smith and producer Linda Hirsch, Confronting ISIS investigated two years of American-led efforts to defeat ISIS, with on-the-ground reporting from five countries with key roles in the anti-ISIS fight — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

“Veteran correspondent Martin Smith’s deliberate reporting provides context to America’s ongoing war against Islamist extremists in this essential primer on the origins and timeline of the conflict,” said today’s announcement on the Peabody Awards website. “Confronting ISIS clearly articulates the political complexities behind the rise of the terrorist group, their strategies in recruitment and tactics, and America’s diplomatic missteps and heightened challenges.”

“Our team is honored to be chosen from among such a strong slate of 2016 finalists and by the recognition that the Peabody Award signifies,” Smith says. “To do this kind of work is a tremendous privilege. I want to thank everyone who worked on Confronting ISIS and the ongoing support of FRONTLINE and PBS.”

 

Rain Media Wins Four Emmys

Four documentaries from RAINmedia won last night at the 36th Annual News & Documentary Emmys — including in the ceremony’s prestigious culminating category, Best Documentary.

United States of Secrets, a three-part investigation of NSA mass surveillance produced alongside The Kirk Documentary Group, took home two Emmys, including the Best Documentary prize. The series was previously honored with the duPont-Columbia Award and the Peabody Award.

Firestone and the Warlord, FRONTLINE and ProPublica’s investigation of the relationship between the iconic tire company and Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, also earned two Emmys. The investigation, from FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria and co-producer Will Cohen and Maeve O’Boyle, had previously won an IRE Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award

Including this year’s wins, RAINmedia has earned over twenty Emmy Awards to date.

Rain Media Nominated for Six Emmy Awards

Rain Media has earned six of FRONTLINE‘s nine News and Documentary Emmy Award nominations for a range of documentaries exploring key domestic and international issues.

The 2015 nominations, including 57 total nods for PBS, were announced today by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“It’s an honor for our journalism to be recognized in this way,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “From the on-the-ground story of the Ebola outbreak, to the secret history of the government’s mass surveillance program, to the relationship between an iconic American company and a Liberian warlord, we’ve worked hard to bring ambitious and untold stories to the public.”

Rain Media has won 7 Emmy Awards to date. This year’s nominations include:

Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a Current News Story — Long Form

The Rise of ISIS

United States of Secrets

Outstanding Investigative Journalism — Long Form

Firestone and the Warlord

Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form

To Catch a Trader

Best Documentary

United States of Secrets

Outstanding Research

Firestone and the Warlord

This year’s winners will be announced on Sept. 28. Watch the nominated Rain Media projects on our website.

Rain Media Wins a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award

Firestone and the Warlord, a collaboration with ProPublica revealing the iconic tire company’s secret history in Liberia — has won 2015 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.

Firestone and the Warlord won in the New Media category. The multiplatform investigation in collaboration with ProPublica was led by Marcela Gaviria, T. Christian Miller, Jonathan Jones and Will Cohen.

Told as both a documentary film and an interactive text story, the Firestone and the Warlord investigation spanned seven years and unearthed 44 pounds of previously unreported court documents.

It found that Firestone agreed to pay millions of dollars to the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor in exchange for being able to operate in Liberia — money that, in Taylor’s own words, provided the “financial assistance that we needed for the revolution” — and uncovered how Taylor turned the company’s plantation into a rebel base that he used to wage a bloody civil war.

“I want people to come away from the documentary and the story thinking about individual choices,” veteran FRONTLINE producer Gaviria said. “It’s very easy to say, ‘Well, corporations make these choices, because what matters is the bottom line’— but people work in corporations.”

The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, given annually by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, recognize outstanding reporting on human rights and social justice issues. You can read a full listing of the 2015 award recipients here, and you can watch our winning films below.

Rain Media Wins a Peabody Award

United States of Secrets, FRONTLINE’s two-part investigation of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities post-9/11, has been honored with a Peabody Award for excellence in documentary filmmaking. Rain Media produced Part Two of this series, examining 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 announcement on the Peabody Awards website.

The Peabody Award for United States of Secrets will be presented on May 31, 2015.

Rain Media Wins an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award

Firestone and the Warlord, FRONTLINE and ProPublica‘s 2014 investigation revealing the relationship between the iconic American tire company Firestone and the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, has won an IRE Award.

“This reporting collaboration told a gripping story of how Firestone managed to continue operating during the brutal Liberian civil war, a tale informed by diplomatic cables, court documents and accounts from Americans who ran a rubber plantation as Liberia descended into chaos,” the IRE judges wrote in a statement announcing this year’s winners.

Told as both a documentary film and an interactive text story, the Firestone and the Warlord investigation spanned seven years and unearthed 44 lbs. of previously unreported court documents.

It found that Firestone agreed to pay millions of dollars to Taylor in exchange for being able to operate in Liberia — money that, in Taylor’s own words, provided the “financial assistance that we needed for the revolution” — and uncovered how Taylor turned the company’s plantation into a rebel base that he used to wage a bloody civil war.

The judges praised Firestone and the Warlord, which was honored in the “Multiplatform – Large” investigations category, as “a concise history of a disturbing episode that the public largely overlooked, and a rare window into the interrelationships of corporations that supply our consumer goods and regimes linked to crimes against humanity.”

Rain Media Wins Emmy for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form

Emmy Award

Rain Media was a winner at the 35th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards with The Retirement Gamble (2013), an investigation into whether your IRA or 401(k) accounts will ensure a safe retirement. The film won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form. The Retirement Gamble was produced by Rain Media’s Marcela Gaviria and featured Martin Smith as correspondent. You can stream the film for free any time on FRONTLINE’s website. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Martin Smith Receives the 2014 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism

Martin Smith in Afgahnistan

Rain Media is very proud to announce that founder Martin Smith is the recipient of the 2014 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, presented by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Smith was selected in recognition of his courageous and insightful reporting on some of the most complex stories of our time: everything from revolutions in Central America and the fall of communism in Russia, to the rise of Al Qaeda and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The John Chancellor Award is presented each year to a reporter for his or her cumulative accomplishments. The prize honors the legacy of pioneering television correspondent and longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor. Selected by a nine-member committee, Smith receives the 2014 award with a $25,000 cash prize. The award will be presented at a dinner ceremony at Columbia University’s Low Library in New York on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

“Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Martin Smith has produced a truly unique body of work with independence and credibility,” said Steve Coll, dean of the journalism school. “Smith’s work represents the best of public interest journalism, and embodies the spirit of the John Chancellor Award.”

“Whether presciently reporting on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden both before and immediately after 9/11, trying to understand the collapse of a new economy in Dot-Con, or laying out in delicious detail The Madoff Affair, Marty Smith has shown the kind of range and reportorial chops that any of us would envy,” said David Fanning, FRONTLINE executive producer.

“Marty is an astonishingly insightful, tenacious and courageous journalist and filmmaker whose reporting makes the world a better place,” said FRONTLINE deputy executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath, 95’. “It’s an honor to work with him, and we’re thrilled to premiere his next documentary, The Rise of ISIS, on October 28.”

 Click here to read Martin’s full biography.