Winner 2000

CNN Perspectives: Cry Freetown

CNN Productions, Insight News Television, Channel Four International

When the rebels entered Freetown, Sierra Leone, on January 6, 1999, they threatened to kill every journalist they met. The next day, Sorious Samura ventured out with a camera, and began to cover a story that typifies the kind of courageous journalism the Peabody Awards have always been proud to honor. Captured by the rebels, he was taken to their base, beaten and punished, and finally allowed to film on the condition that if the rebels appeared in any scenes he could consider himself a dead man. Hiding behind windows, dodging sniper fire in the streets, and wearing no bullet-proof vest, Sorious Samura filmed and kept filming, determined to record what was happening in his country for the outside world. While much of the world and its news organizations have abandoned or ignored this devastated region, Sorious Samura’s Cry Freetown reminds us of the horrific catastrophe in Sierra Leone. Cry Freetown is also the story of one man who risked death to bring that devastation to the world as he relentlessly pursued and documented the atrocities, butchery and heinous acts imparted on civilians by paramilitaries on both sides of the civil crisis. For fearless, intrepid journalism in the distinguished tradition of all war reporting, a Peabody Award goes to Sorious Samura and Cry Freetown.