The New Yorker Wins Its First Peabody Award, for “Reeducated”

The New Yorker received its first Peabody Award on Tuesday, in the Immersive & Interactive category, for “Reeducated,” a combined virtual-reality documentary and interactive feature that exposed the inside of a secret detention camp in Xinjiang, China. Based on the testimony of multiple survivors, including three men who were imprisoned at the same facility, “Reeducated” supplements rare eyewitness accounts with visual renderings of what is likely the largest mass internment of ethnic and religious minorities since the Second World War.

In the V.R. documentary, viewers enter a “reeducation” camp, one of many sites constructed by the Chinese government to suppress Uighurs and other Turkic and Muslim minorities. Using firsthand testimony and hand-drawn animation, the three-dimensionsal film re-creates the experiences of Erbaqyt Otarbai, Orynbek Koksebek, and Amanzhan Seituly, who each endured some combination of political indoctrination, solitary confinement, and torture during their time in Chinese custody. The interactive feature provides additional context about China’s campaign of persecution, including the ubiquitous use of surveillance cameras and police checkpoints to track minority populations and quash expressions of minority culture across Xinjiang.

Sam Wolson, who directed both the film and the animation used in the interactive, will accept the Peabody Award on behalf of The New Yorker at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles on June 11th. “Reeducated,” which is based on reporting by Ben Mauk, won an Emmy, the magazine’s first, in September, after screening at the Venice Film Festival and SXSW, where it received special jury recognition.

“The ‘Reeducated’ project is an extraordinary journalistic accomplishment, using innovative storytelling techniques to give audiences an unprecedented understanding of one of the worst human-rights abuses in decades. I’m so proud of The New Yorker team behind this work and honored by the recognition from the Peabody jurors,” David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, said.

The film and interactive were supported by the Pulitzer Center, the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism, and the Online News Association. ♦

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