New York -- Winners of this year’s George Foster Peabody Awards, given out here Monday by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism for excellence in electronic media, varied from Bob Woodruff’s ABC News report on wounded veterans to Public Radio International’s special on rockabilly to the comedic stylings of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl stepped in to host in place of NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who just arrived back from Afghanistan and chose to spend time with his NBC colleagues in the wake of Washington bureau chief Tim Russert’s death. Although there was no weepy tribute to Russert, Stahl said the Peabody event gave colleagues from all networks a chance to "grieve together."
Colbert received perhaps the largest ovation, comparing the Colbert Report crew to a barium enema for their knack for injecting themselves into a story and flushing out the truthiness. He also told the Waldorf-Astoria crowd about going on Meet the Press during his short-lived, but no less humorous, bid for the American presidency. Host Russert told Colbert about how his pundit colleagues chastised him for giving precious MTP airtime to the prankster. "Guys, it's comedy?" Colbert said Russert told others who thought Colbert shouldn't be on. "Lighten up!" (To watch video of Colbert's Peabody speech, click here.)
WSLS Roanoke, Va., anchor John Carlin struck a more somber tone while accepting a Peabody for the Media General station’s coverage of last year’s Virginia Tech shootings. A small-market station (68th), he was thrilled to be sharing the stage with more famous journalists. Yet, he said, “Because of the tragedy, I wish we never had the opportunity to win this award. We accept it on behalf of the 32 innocent victims.”
Also claiming prizes were CBS’ 60 Minutes for “The Killings in Haditha,” AMC’s Mad Men and Bravo’s Project Runway, among many others.
It was with great reluctance -- and encouragement from executive producer Harvey Weinstein -- that Runway host Heidi Klum stepped to the podium, explaining that the supermodel’s shoes were much better for sitting than for walking.
There were 35 Peabody Awards handed out, one fewer than the most ever bestowed.
For a full list of 2008 winners, visit the Peabody Web site.