Winner 2005

Burning Questions


In four segments, from May through October 2005, KNBC-TV, Burbank, exposed potentially disastrous environmental features threatening the safety of Playa Vista, one of Southern California’s largest commercial-residential projects. Already partially completed on more than 1,000 acres in southwestern Los Angeles, Playa Vista is advertised as a model for such developments. As the KNBC series reports, however, the planned community sits atop beds of underground oil deposits, a once polluted former Hughes aircraft field, and a subterranean gas storage reservoir. Three years of prior research, much of it obtained from public records, bolstered the KNBC effort, as did extensive interviews with experts, environmentalists, and public officials. As stated in the entry form for Peabody consideration: “The ultimate ‘burning question’ we posed is: given the dispersed oversight and underground gas hazards, can this property be made safe?” This question continued to drive inquiries into the environmental conditions at Playa Vista, playing a role in the Los Angeles City Council decision to conduct further studies on the site. Reporter Paul Moyer and producer Frank Snepp presented the issues involved in this case in a controlled, informative manner. Their work was supported at the station level by vice-president and news director, Robert Long, and by a precise visual record photographed by David Fernandez, Jose Hernandez, Daniel Peek, Ben Weatherly, Hernan Vazquez, Joel Cooke, and Mark James, and edited by Jim Hourani and Craig Swanson. For focusing the attention of a community and a region on dangers to life, property, and the environment, a Peabody Award goes to Burning Questions.


Producer: Frank Snepp. Writer: Frank Snepp. Editor: Jim Hourani. Photographers: David Fernandez, Jose Hernandez, Daniel Peek, Ben Weatherly, Hernan Vazquez.