Silver Gavel Awards for Media and The Arts

Silver Gavel Awards for Media and The Arts

Celebrating 40 Years of ABA Gavel Awards

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1950s
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1958
 Films/Video
The Gavel Awards are established under the leadership of ABA President Charles S. Rhyne "to recognize outstanding contributions to public information and understanding of the roles of law and courts in our society." Sidney Lumet's classic juryroom drama Twelve Angry Men (United Artists) becomes the first film to win a Silver Gavel Award. The acclaimed movie, starring Henry Fonda (as a holdout juror), Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam, explores the standard of reasonable doubt as a New York jury considers whether a young man is guilty of killing his father.

1960s
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1964
 Television
"Blacklist," an episode of the landmark CBS television drama The Defenders about a blacklisted actor and his lawyer, receives a Silver Gavel, the series' second such award. Starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as the father-and-son lawyers Preston & Preston, The Defenders (Plantus Productions, 1961-1965) often explored controversial legal and moral issues of the day. CBS-Television captures seven Silver Gavels in the 1960s (eighteen overall in the forty years the Awards have been given), including a number for documentaries broadcast on the News Division's CBS Reports.

1970s
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1974
 Radio
National Public Radio wins its first of seven Silver Gavels (winning most recently in 1997) for an "All Things Considered" program examining important legal and constitutional issues raised by the Watergate scandal in the Nixon administration. KMOX-St. Louis also wins two of its five Silver Gavels in the 1970s--its 1979 winner is "In the Common Good," an eighteen-part series on legal ethics and the legal system.
1979
 Magazines
A Newsweek cover story entitled "The Landmark Bakke Ruling" by senior editor Jerrold Footlick and correspondents Diane Camper and Lucy Howard receives the magazine's sixth Silver Gavel Award of the decade (nine overall). The year before, two New Yorker series on "The Annals of Crime" win Silver Gavels--Susan Sheehan's "A Prison and a Prisoner" and Thomas Whiteside's "Dead Souls in the Computer."

1980s
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1982
 Books
Winning a Silver Gavel in the book category this year is Fred Friendly's Minnesota Rag (Random House), the "dramatic story" of Near v. Minnesota, the landmark Supreme Court case on freedom of the press. Friendly, former president of CBS News and founder of the "Fred Friendly Seminars," is also a key contributor from the 1960s through the 1980s to numerous Silver Gavel Award-winning television programs by CBS and the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society. Lawyer and writer Jethro Lieberman's The Litigious Society (Basic Books)--on the causes for, and consequences of, Americans' "urge to sue"--also garners a Silver Gavel.
1989
 Newspapers
Miami Herald staff writer David Von Drehle's "The Death Penalty: A Failure of Execution" is the newspaper's third Silver Gavel Award winner of the decade (six overall). The author examines the "paralysis" of the death penalty's application in Florida, ending with suggested solutions. Other newspapers receiving multiple Silver Gavel Awards during the past forty years include The Dallas Morning News, The Louisville Courier Journal (KY), The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

1990s
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1996
 Theatre
Clarence Darrow Tonight! (ArLuck Entertainment), a one-man play of the life and courtroom battles of the famed maverick defense attorney, wins the 1996 Silver Gavel Award for Theatre. The play is performed, written and produced by noted actor/writer Laurence Luckinbill. Twenty-one years earlier, another one-man play about Darrow ( Clarence Darrow, Dome Productions) wins the first Silver Gavel Award for Theatre.
1998
 New Media
The ABA introduces a category for websites and other "new media" not eligible under traditional categories. The OYEZ Project, a Northwestern University resource website on the U.S. Supreme Court, receives the first (and, to date, only) Silver Gavel Award for New Media. The multimedia site, created and maintained by a team of scholars, curriculum specialists and web designers led by political science professor Jerry Goldman, is designed to convey a sense of the Supreme Court of the United States as an institution, illuminate the lives of every justice who has served, and explore the key constitutional decisions the Court has handed down. It includes complete oral arguments and full text for each of the featured cases.



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