Winner 1998

Dateline NBC: Checks and Balances

NBC News

Welfare reform is a widely covered topic, often treated by the media with much finger-pointing and hand-wringing. In this exceptional report Dateline NBC and correspondent Maria Shriver avoided these common pitfalls to present a penetrating, revealing look at how four single mothers responded to Wisconsin’s historic attempt to end welfare. Dateline NBC invested a year in examining the lives of these women, and followed their successes and setbacks with commendable balance. Correspondent Shriver did an excellent job depicting the lives of these women, and interviewing the state’s welfare reform architect, Gov. Tommy Thompson. As a result, viewers came away with a thorough understanding of the process of moving mothers from welfare to work, especially the human costs and social consequences. Checks and Balances asked all the right questions, while at the same time, it told an intensely moving story with more drama than was found in most movies of the week. Dateline’s executive producer, Neal Shapiro, oversaw the series; producers included Claudia Pryor Malis and Kelley Venardos, with help from associate producer Jason Samuels and editor Andrew Finkelstein. The result was a compelling, refreshing, and heartrending look at a volatile and often misunderstood issue. For this, a Peabody Award to Dateline NBC: Checks and Balances.