The film, which won in the news category, investigated the origins and impact of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. From producer Marcela Gaviria and correspondent Martin Smith, the documentary traced what happened to children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, examined the immigration policies of both the Trump and Obama administrations, and found that separations were happening to families who crossed the border illegally months before “zero tolerance” was officially announced.
“In response to the U.S. government’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents in processing centers, FRONTLINE shows characteristic attention to broader contexts undergirding the policy and its enactment,” the Peabody Board of Jurors said in a citation.
Noting that Separated “explores the roots of the policy in El Paso, Texas, 12 months prior to it making headlines, and draws a line from Obama-era practice and infrastructure to current policy,” the jurors said the “report and its makers commendably show as much care and attention to the humans and traumas of the story as to its politics and rhetoric.”
“We wanted to provide clarity on a complex, politically fraught story,” Gaviria said. “We are enormously grateful to FRONTLINE for supporting this project and to the Peabody jurors for their recognition.”
“There are awards, and then there are the Peabodys,” Smith said. “We are deeply honored.”
“It’s gratifying to learn that our reporting on family separations at the border has been named a Peabody Award recipient, joining our investigation of Facebook among this year’s winning works,” said FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “Thank you to the Peabody Board of Jurors, our tireless film teams, our loyal viewers, and to WGBH, PBS and CPB for championing our journalism.”
Since 1940, the George Foster Peabody Awards have honored excellence in broadcasting. The awards now recognize excellence in digital storytelling as well. The 78th annual Peabody Awards ceremony will take place on May 18 in New York City.