“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

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 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.

Rain Media Nominated for 3 Emmy Awards

Rain Media has been nominated for three News & Documentary Emmy Awards this year. The winners will be announced announced on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, at a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center in New York City.

Rain Media’s Egypt in Crisis was nominated in the Outstanding Coverage a Current News Story—Long Form category. The film was produced by Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria, with GlobalPost‘s Charles Sennott as correspondent.

Meanwhile, two Rain Media films were nominated in the Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting—Long Form category. The Retirement Gamble, produced by Marcela Gaviria with Martin Smith as correspondent received the first nomination; while The Untouchables, produced by Martin Smith and co-produced by Linda Hirsch and Ben Gold received the second nomination.

Rain Media Nominated for 2 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism

Rain Media was recently nominated for two Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.

The Untouchables, which explores the lack of Wall Street prosecutions in the wake of the financial crisis, is a Video/Audio Category Finalist. Federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who handles Wall Street criminal cases out of his seat in the Southern District of New York, recently cited The Untouchables in his New York Review of Books essay “The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted,” in which he claims that Lanny Breuer, the former leader of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, “totally misstates the law” during his interview on the program.

Meanwhile, The Retirement Gamble, FRONTLINE’s thorough primer on the uphill battle to retirement, is a Personal Finance Category Finalist. As TIME Magazine said, “You are all but certain to identify with one or more subjects in the program, and it may provide just the jolt you need to start paying attention to investment costs and save 10% of every penny you earn.”

Both films can be streamed for free on the PBS FRONTLINE website.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!

United States of Secrets, Pt. 2 to Air Tuesday, May 20 at 10 P.M. on PBS

When NSA contractor Edward Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of top-secret documents from a highly secure government network, it led to the largest leak of classified information in history — and sparked a fierce debate over privacy, technology and democracy in the post-9/11 world.

Now, in United States of Secrets, FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to reveal the dramatic inside story of how the U.S. government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world—including ordinary Americans—and the lengths they went to trying to hide the massive surveillance program from the public.

In part one, a two-hour film premiering Tuesday, May 13 at a special time (9 p.m.), FRONTLINE went inside Washington and the National Security Agency, piecing together the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of September 11 and continues today – even after the revelations of its existence by Edward Snowden.

Now, in part two, premiering Tuesday, May 20 at 10 p.m., veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Martin Smith (The Untouchables, To Catch a Trader) continues the story, exploring the secret relationship between Silicon Valley and the National Security Agency, and investigating how the government and tech companies have worked together to gather and warehouse your data.

Smith investigates the ways Silicon Valley has played a role in the NSA’s dragnet, and blurred the boundaries of privacy for us all.

“As big technology companies encouraged users to share more and more information about their lives, they created a trove of data that could be useful not simply to advertisers—but also to the government,” Smith says. “Privacy advocates have been worried about this since the early days of the Internet, and the Snowden revelations about the scope of government spying brought their fears into high relief.”

“If the FBI came to your door and demanded photos of your wedding, the names and daily habits of your children, the restaurants you frequent, who you’ve called and texted for the past month, and where you’ll be staying on your upcoming vacation, you’d call your lawyer,” Smith says. “But that’s exactly the sort of information we’re all sharing by living our lives digitally — and the government has taken notice in a big way.”

To Catch a Trader to Air Tuesday, January 7 at 10 p.m. on PBS

The $8 billion fortune amassed by the hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen was stunning: a 35,000-square-foot mansion on Connecticut’s “Gold Coast”; a $62 million beach house in the Hamptons; a $115 million duplex in New York City, furnished with some of the world’s most valuable art.

Was Cohen’s firm, SAC Capital, simply smarter than the other players on Wall Street? Or, as the U.S. Justice Department began to suspect, was there another explanation for how SAC managed to beat the stock market and bring in sky-high returns for Cohen and his investors year after year?

From the team behind FRONTLINE’s The Untouchables and Money, Power and Wall Street comes To Catch a Trader (premiering Tuesday, Jan. 7, on PBS; check local listings), the suspenseful and compelling story of the unprecedented government investigation that led to the largest insider trading case in U.S. history.

Drawing on exclusively obtained video of Cohen, FBI wiretaps of other hedge fund traders, and interviews with both Wall Street and Justice Department insiders (including U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the “sheriff of Wall Street”), To Catch a Trader traces the rise of Cohen’s empire and goes inside the government’s ongoing, seven-year crackdown on insider trading in the hedge fund industry.

“Our investigation found that in 2006, for the first time, the FBI started to go after hedge funds the same way they went after the mob,” says FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith, who, along with director and producer Nick Verbitsky, spent six months digging into the government’s cases against traders at SAC Capital and other hedge funds.

“They began investigating Cohen and his peers in the same fashion—wiretapping, flipping informants, basically using these methods to target white-collar criminals for the first time,” Smith says.

As FRONTLINE reports, since prosecutors first set their sights on the hedge fund industry, the FBI’s crackdown has uncovered institutional, widespread malfeasance.

As one agent tells FRONTLINE, “We likened it to the first Jaws movie, that we’re ‘going to need a bigger boat.’”

To date, the government has convicted 76 people of securities fraud and conspiracy. In November 2013, SAC Capital agreed to plead guilty to what prosecutors called “insider trading that was substantial, pervasive, and on a scale without precedent in the history of hedge funds.” Under an agreement still pending a judge’s approval, the firm will cease to operate as a hedge fund and will pay a $1.8 billion penalty.

Steven Cohen has not been charged with insider trading; he instead faces civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly failing to supervise his employees and prevent misconduct.

U.S. Attorney Bharara tells FRONTLINE that the government’s investigation into insider trading at hedge funds will continue.

“Our responsibility and obligation is to make sure that everybody understands that no one is above the law,” Bharara says, “that it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, who you’re connected to, you have to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Unfolding with the urgency of a crime novel, To Catch a Trader is a must-watch primer for what happens next.

The 34th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards; 10/1/13

Rain Media Wins an Emmy for Money, Power and Wall Street

PBS FRONTLINE’s four-hour special chronicling the history of the 2008 financial crisis, Money, Power and Wall Street, took home last night’s News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form. Rain Media shared the award with the Kirk Documentary Group. Congratulations to all the winners, including FRONTLINE founder and Executive Producer David Fanning, who won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.