Unnatural Causes


An Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism was given to UNNATURAL CAUSES : IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK?, the groundbreaking documentary series exploring the root causes of America’s alarming class and racial inequities in health. The duPont-Columbia Awards are considered the most prestigious in broadcast journalism, the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes.

UNNATURAL CAUSES crisscrosses the country exploring how the social conditions in which we are born, live and work can get under the skin and profoundly shape health and longevity, even more than behaviors, genes or medical care. The four-hour series challenges many fundamental beliefs about what makes Americans healthy – or sick – and suggests new remedies for an ailing society that ranks 29th in the world in life expectancy and 30th in infant mortality. Unlike Michael Moore’s SiCKO, Unnatural Causes is not about health care but rather why so many of us get sick in the first place.

UNNATURAL CAUSES was broadcast by PBS in the spring of 2008. Since then, more than 12,000 community dialogues, policy forums, trainings, town hall meetings other events built around the series have been convened around the country, expanding the nation’s dialogue over health and what the country can and should do to tackle health inequities. A screening and forum with California state legislators and officials will be held in the California State Capitol this Wednesday, January 14.

“We are thrilled by this honor,” said Larry Adelman, the series creator and executive producer and co-director of California Newsreel. “It reflects a growing recognition that meaningful jobs that pay a living wage, affordable housing, quality schools, racial justice, reliable transit, safe and supportive communities, even tax policy, are health issues every bit as important as diet, smoking and exercise.”

Katie Couric will host this year’s duPont-Columbia Award ceremony which will take place in New York on Thursday, January 22. Among the other 12 winners are Christiane Annapour and CNN’s series on the global rise of religious fundamentalism, God’s Warriors, ABC News’ combat reporting in eastern Afghanistan, and This American Life’s prescient story, The Giant Pool of Money, unraveling the subprime mortgage crisis. WFAA-TV Houston will be awarded the Gold Baton for its outstanding investigative reporting.

A documentary on the award winners called Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism, hosted by ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, will be broadcast by many PBS stations beginning January 15 (check local listings).

UNNATURAL CAUSES was produced by San Francisco’s California Newsreel, the country’s oldest non-profit documentary production and distribution center, now in its 40th year, in association with Vital Pictures of Boston (www.vitalpix.com). It was presented on PBS by the National Minority Consortia of public television. DVDs can be ordered from California Newsreel at www.newsreel.org while for more information on the series, including video clips and resources on health equity visit the companion web site: www.unnaturalcauses.org.

For more information on Unnatural Causes, visit www.unnaturalcauses.org .
For more information on the duPont-Columbia Awards and the 2009 winners, visit: www.dupont.org .

FUNDERS: Funding for Unnatural Causes was provided by the Ford Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the California Endowment, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute, Kaiser Permanente and the Annie. E. Casey Foundation, the Akonadi Foundation, the Wallace A. Gerbode Foundation and the Falk Foundation. Additional outreach funding by the Open Society Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Presented on PBS by the National Minority Consortia.

CREDITS: Larry Adelman, series creator and executive producer; Llewellyn Smith, co-executive producer; Christine Herbes-Sommers, series senior producer; Kimberlee Bassford, Franziska Blome, Julie Crawford, James M. Fortier, Sativa January, Ellie Lee, Randall MacLowry, Patricia Garcia-Rios, María Teresa Rodríguez, James Rutenbeck, Eric Stange, Tracy Heather Strain, producers; Chuck Scott, Andrea Williams, Willam Anderson, Bernice Schneider, editors; Jean Cheng, web site producer; Rachel Poulain, director of outreach; McKinney & Associates, publicity