Your Guide To This Year's True Crime Peabody Nominees

Here's the best of the best for 2019

The logline of the Peabody Awards is “stories that matter.”

As such, true crime is its bread and butter, and as it covers the year’s “most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media,” that means that an awful lot of contenders for the prizes are digital and broadcast properties that we’ve discussed, either in this newsletter or on The Blotter Presents podcast.

Even a nomination is an honor (though, of course, everyone wants to win): The Peabodies are pretty prestigious, and are judged by a jury of TV, radio, and digital pros in the trenches alongside many of the nominees. They’re less hacky than the Emmys, less stuffy than the Pulitzers, and less pay-to-play (but, make no mistake: almost all awards shows are pay-to-play) than many other awards in the video/digital realm. To folks who care about awards and recognition, they matter.

The Peabody organization announced the 60 nominees for the 2019 awards last week (but so did those stuffy Pulitzers and the food-focused James Beard Foundation, which is why we’re just getting to this guide now). Included in the nominations are some properties you’ll likely find familiar, and others that you probably meant to consume but haven’t yet. You’ll probably see some notable omissions, too — and maybe you’ll disagree with all the picks. That’s what the comment section is for!

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Below, you’ll find all the true crime-related nominees for this year, with a link to the full property, the Peabody link, and (if it exists) a link to the episode of The Blotter Presents that covers it. (There are also lots of non-true-crime nominees that are worth a look! You can find the full list here.) If that doesn't kill some safer-at-home time, we don’t know what will.

Documentary category

16 Shots This moving and impressively comprehensive forensic account from director Rick Rowley examines the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police.” (TBP episode here)

Leaving Neverland A brave if deeply troubling account from Dan Reed of pop legend Michael Jackson’s relationships with children, told through profiles of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, offering their accounts of being groomed for, suffering under, and attempting to recover from alleged abuse.” (TBP episode here)

POV: Roll Red Roll Harrowing yet powerful retelling by Nancy Schwartzman of the 2012 rape of a teenage girl by members of a beloved high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio, and of many in the town’s refusal to believe.” (TBP episode here)

Surviving R. Kelly Unflinching, brave, and impactful six-part series based on interviews with women who survived alleged sexual abuse from R&B superstar R. Kelly.” (TBP episode here)

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality A superb profile of the remarkable Bryan Stevenson and his work seeking justice for death row inmates amounts to a searing indictment of the U.S. criminal justice system and its history of racism.”

Entertainment category

Our Boys Gripping and heart-wrenching, the series tells the story of the 2014 ‘retaliation’ kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and the ensuing investigation.”

UnbelievableThe superb dramatization of intersecting, albeit vastly-differently-executed investigations into a serial rapist, features standout performances from Toni Collette, Merritt Weaver, and Kaitlyn Deaver.” (TBP episode here)

When They See Us Devastating and commanding, the powerful miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case and the lives it ruined, offers riveting work from a strong ensemble cast.” (TBP episode here)

News category

A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness A poignant examination of how law enforcement officers tackle the challenge of policing people with mental illness that sagely approaches the complex topic from various standpoints.”

Unwarranted A moving investigation of Chicago police raiding the wrong houses that chillingly recounts the traumatization of many children amidst botched raids.”

Podcast/radio category

70 Million This standout series on criminal justice reform crosses the country to document the impact of local jails on people and communities.”

Gangster Capitalism: The College Admissions ScandalThe first season of the podcast mixes sterling and deep journalistic investigation with thoughtful framing analysis to explore 2019’s college admissions scandal involving celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs alike.”

Headlong: Running From COPSDan Taberski’s podcast explores the ethics, impact, and problems of the long-running reality show COPS, offering as much fun as substance and analysis.”

In The Dark: The Path Home In the second season of this story, the In The Dark team once again set the benchmark for what truly superb true crime podcasts can and should be, digging into the troubling case of Curtis Flowers and uncovering a weak case bolstered by a pattern of discriminatory jury selection.”

The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan FarrowRonan Farrow immerses listeners in the story about bringing Harvey Weinstein to justice.” (TBP episode here)

Public Service category

Border HustleA troubling account of those on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border profiting off migrants, from coyotes to ICE labor camps, and re-victimizing them.”

DetainedThis project tells the story from 1978 to now of the U.S. government’s detention of asylum seekers, mixing archival footage, data analysis, interactivity, and text to offer a strong example of multimedia journalism.”


Friday on Best Evidence: An incredibly popular true-crime podcast with a host who refuses to release his name.


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