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WETA Production Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal Wins 2008 George Foster Peabody Award

Awards Committee Cites Series' Intelligence and 2008 Roadshow Events

WASHINGTON, D.C. — WETA’s weekly public affairs series Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal has been recognized with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, shared on behalf of WETA yesterday. In making the award announcement, the Peabody Board hailed the series for providing “citizens with much needed information and carefully reasoned perspectives on the most important issues of the day.”

“For four decades, WETA’s production Washington Week has served the American public with illuminating insights into the news, and we are delighted that Gwen and this important series have been honored with such a distinguished award,” said Rockefeller. “Public broadcasting consistently demonstrates tremendous strengths in producing and broadcasting informative programs of intellectual integrity. The entire Washington Week team is proud to be a part of that tradition.”

Upon news of the award, Gwen Ifill, managing editor and moderator of Washington Week, commented, “It is an honor to be recognized for doing what we do best — explaining the whys and the hows of politics and government — and for understanding that the best wisdom often originates from outside Washington. Our tiny but robust production staff, outstanding journalists from radio, television, the Internet and print, generous underwriters, and our engaged and excited audiences made it all possible.”

The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious service by broadcasters, cable and Webcasters, producing organizations, and individuals. The winners of the 68th annual Peabody Awards for 2008 were announced via satellite and webcast at 10 a.m. EDT on April 1 by Dr. Horace Newcomb, Peabody Director, and current board chair Ron Simon from the Peabody Awards Gallery at the University of Georgia.

Washington Week was praised by the awards committee as “thoughtful, intelligent, informed and always up-to-date,” and they noted that “Washington Week and its host Gwen Ifill set standards for the genre.” The committee also cited the series’ Roadshow Events from 2008. Last year, in addition to the weekly broadcast of the program, the series launched a national roadshow tour underwritten by AARP, taking the Washington Week program to eight cities across the country for live-audience election specials. Washington Week is the longest running prime-time news program on television and airs Friday nights on more than 300 PBS stations nationwide.

The Peabody Award will be presented to Washington Week at the 68th Annual George Foster Peabody Awards ceremony on Monday, May 18, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. This is the first Peabody Award for Washington Week.

Washington Week was created in 1967 as a local program by WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, and has always been characterized by depth, balance and civil discourse. The reporters who cover the halls of power in Washington and abroad gather each Friday to discuss what they have learned, and tell how it might impact viewer’s daily lives. In 2006, Washington Week formed an editorial partnership with National Journal, the respected news weekly, which provides its editorial depth to the program. Washington Week is seen each Friday night on most PBS stations and on WETA TV 26 in Washington, D.C., at 8 p.m.

Ifill is one of the country’s most esteemed journalists. In addition to her role at the helm of Washington Week, Ifill is a senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In her 25 years in journalism, she has also worked for NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, covering such beats as the Congress and the White House. Her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Doubleday), became a best-seller this January.

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with National Journal. The senior producer is Chris Guarino. Executive producers are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan. The producer is Alla Lora. Major funding for Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal is provided by The Annenberg Foundation, Boeing, the National Mining Association and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television. WETA’s other productions and co-productions include the critically acclaimed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer; the In Performance at the White House and The Kennedy Center Presents performance series; and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including THE WAR and coming this fall, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

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Kate Kelly
kkelly@weta.org