Winner 1997

60 Minutes


We are all too familiar with the proliferation of negative news and with the blurring of the line between information and entertainment on television. Therefore, it is critical to remind ourselves television news’ ability to promote positive values—including the value of an affirmative spirit, the value of industry and effort, and the importance of fighting the good fight in a good way. Such is the case with four particularly powerful episodes of 60 Minutes produced in 1997. In “A Very Special Brain,” correspondent Morley Safer introduces us to the remarkable group of people who suffer from Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic defect. Commonly classified as retarded, we find the Williams Syndrome people to be happy, friendly, compassionate, and magically musical. “Big Man, Big Voice” is a stunning and stirring profile of the German baritone Thomas Quasthoff, who has overcome severe physical disabilities as a victim of the Thalidomide tragedy, to become one of the finest singers of his generation. Correspondent Ed Bradley introduces us to Mr. Quastoff with great sensitivity, humor, and dignity. The segment on Veronica Guerin, Ireland’s leading investigative reporter, whose murder is attributed to the suspected drug traffickers who were the subjects of her reports, is not presented as a gory, gangland execution. Rather, Steve Kroft and 60 Minutes make the story a celebration of her passion, her commitment, and an inspirational message about the price of free speech. In “West Side Story,” correspondent Kroft follows the successful effort by Brian Tivnan, the director of a local theater in Worcester, Mass., to bring inner-city kids and their police adversaries together for a production of the classic play. Our spirits soar, as these children, often given up for dead or for a lifetime of crime at best, build their confidence and their self-esteem, as they learn to sing and dance. Under the stewardship of executive producer Don Hewitt, a true “American master,” 60 Minutes continues to carry the torch of excellence in electronic journalism. For so doing, a Peabody Award.