Winner 2003

A Question of Fairness

NBC News, New York

Tom Brokaw’s special report, A Question Of Fairness, probes one of the most vexing social issues in America: affirmative action. Aired just prior to a United States Supreme Court ruling on policies at the University of Michigan, the report tells us the story of this complex issue at the level of intimate personal experience. Two students—one white, one black—present radically opposed views on affirmative action and how it has affected their lives. But the program is far more than a personalized account of opinions and emotions. Mr. Brokaw interviews current and former presidents of the University of Michigan, parents of both students, students at other universities and significantly, several of the first Michigan students admitted under affirmative action policies in 1969. Now in their fifties, these adults discuss the benefits and limitations of affirmative action. Their commentary emphasizes one of the most basic points of this report—racism remains deeply embedded in American society. “Easy answers are hard to come by,” says Mr. Brokaw toward the end of his report. To the great credit of A Question Of Fairness—produced by Geraldine Moriba-Meadows and senior producer David Corvo for NBC News, and edited by Bruce Burger and Andrew Finklestein—none are offered. For requiring viewers, like those involved in the events chronicled in the report, to work toward their own hard answers to difficult social problems a Peabody Award goes to A Question of Fairness.