MPR News has received a Peabody Award for an investigative documentary examining the child sex-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Peabody Awards are one of the highest honors in broadcast journalism.
The "Betrayed by Silence" documentary aired in July and examined how leaders within the archdiocese shielded priests who sexually abused children, despite decades of public assurances that the Catholic Church was safe.
The Peabody Awards website said the documentary uncovered how Archbishop Harry Flynn, who headed the committee that wrote the U.S. Catholic Church's abuse policy "not only failed to follow it but participated in cover-ups."
The documentary was reported by reporter Madeleine Baran, produced by Sasha Aslanian and edited by News Director Mike Edgerly. It was the result of an investigation by a team of MPR News journalists that began in 2013.
MPR News Managing Director Chris Worthington said in a statement that the "Betrayed by Silence" reporting team was humbled by the recognition.
"The individual stories throughout the investigation were superbly reported and important, yet difficult because of the victims' painful experiences," Worthington said. "This final story was critical for a full understanding — it went beyond what happened to show how and why it persisted over decades and who could've stopped it."
Baran said in the statement that she's "grateful to the abuse survivors and their families and everyone who came forward to help us tell this important story."
The "Betrayed by Silence" series was also recognized with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award earlier this year. The series has received awards from the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which also named Baran as young journalist of the year. The "Betrayed by Silence" reporting team's work has also been recognized by the Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Northwest Broadcast News Association and the Religious Newswriters Association.
This is the sixth time MPR News or its parent company, American Public Media, has won a Peabody Award. The Peabody Awards were established in 1940 to provide a radio equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. The award's scope has since expanded to include television, podcasts and websites.
Winners are decided by jurors at the George Foster Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia. The jurors includes former journalists from Time magazine, academics and current and former media company executives. The Peabody Awards have no categories and no set number of yearly awards. In order to win, entries must earn the unanimous approval of all Peabody jurors.
Other news and radio winners of the award this year include a CNN investigation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a National Public Radio report on the Ebola outbreak and the podcast Serial.