Winner 2009

A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains

ABC News

Central Appalachia is the most scenic ghetto in America, a region of stunning natural vistas and crushing, intractable poverty. ABC News producers spent two years in its hollows and ragged homes documenting the lives of several families. The producers and anchor/interviewer Diane Sawyer focused on four Appalachian youths trying to escape the undertow of joblessness, nutritional ignorance and inadequate health care. The candor of these young people is as memorable as their determination. Contextual reporting reminds viewers of Appalachia’s patriotic tradition and of the fatalistic courage of its coal miners. It also spotlights addictions that plague the region, notably the abuse of prescription drugs and an unfortunate fondness for the soft drink Mountain Dew. The manufacturer, PepsiCo, initially denounced ABC News’ revelations about epidemic tooth decay in Appalachia, then donated $100,000 to help a volunteer dentist who repairs devastated mouths buy a second mobile unit. For powerful, empathetic reporting about an oft-forgotten, ongoing national tragedy, a Peabody Award goes to A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains.


Executive Producer: David Sloan. Senior Producer: Jessica Velmans. Producers: Claire J. Weinraub, Keturah Gray. Associate Producer: Joseph Diaz. Writers: Diane Sawyer, Claire J. Weinraub. Reporter: Diane Sawyer. Videographers: Claire Weinraub, Keturah Gray, Joseph Diaz. Editors: Karl Dawson, Terence Kiff, Bram Harris, Tom Marcyes, Robert Ferrari.