COURIC'S colon cancer report, Firestone tire probe win Peabody prizes

Tuesday, May 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC ``Today'' anchor Katie Couric's very personal report on colon cancer _ in which she was filmed undergoing a colonoscopy _ has been honored with a Peabody Award.

HBO's mafia series ``The Sopranos'' and NBC's presidential drama ``The West Wing'' also received Peabodys, honoring television and radio broadcasting, at a Monday luncheon.

In a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel ballroom packed with producers, journalists and television personalities, 34 winners were presented with the awards, administered by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Couric's husband, television legal analyst Jay Monahan, died three years ago from colon cancer. At the awards show, Couric read a letter from a viewer who said she found the courage to have a colonoscopy after seeing the report _ and found that she had cancer.

``Now that's the kind of fan mail that makes you realize that what you do matters and you can make a difference,'' Couric said.

Two CBS news reports were honored, ''60 Minutes II: Death by Denial,'' about AIDS in Africa, and ''48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire,'' about the deaths of six Massachusetts firefighters.

Also honored were ``The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2000,'' for its comic coverage of the aftermath of the presidential election, and ``Malcolm in the Middle,'' a Fox family sitcom.

Awards were given to several programs on PBS, including the animated children's series ``Arthur'' and the historical documentary ``Napoleon.''

Texas broadcasters received two awards. KHOU-TV, in Houston, was honored for ``Treading on Danger?'' The investigation into defective Firestone tires led to a federal probe and the recall of more than 6 million tires.

The Peabody board gave a personal award _ one not in a specific category _ to H. Martin ``Marty'' Haag, called an ``industry icon'' for his work as a television news director from 1973 to 1989 at WFAA-TV, in Dallas.

``I'm very humbled by this award and the elite class of previous recipients,'' Haag said in accepting the award. ``This is a day that I will treasure always.''

Previous winners of the personal Peabody Award include Walter Cronkite, Orson Welles, Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey. This is the 60th year the annual awards have been presented.