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Honoring the news and entertainment media for their outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal protection issues, The HSUS recognizes the best in media coverage for works aired or released in 2017.

2018 Winners

Stories that celebrate the human-animal bond (Megan Leavey, War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend) and beloved pigs (Okja, The Simpsons, The Last Pig) figure prominently among the winners of the 32nd Genesis Awards. Across 18 news and entertainment categories, the awards recognize works that call attention to endangered giraffes, orangutans and rhinos, puppy mills, farm animal abuse, trophy hunting and many others critical issues. But it was banner (or ’notable' year for National Geographic, with a total of four awards, including Reporter of the Year for Natasha Daly and her groundbreaking articles on the USDA’s removal of animal welfare records, and on the cruelty behind the tourist craze for ‘selfies’ with exotic animals.

We applaud all 30 of the outstanding 32nd Genesis Awardees for using their diverse media platforms to raise awareness of animal protection concerns.

OUTSTANDING FEATURE FILM

OKJA – Netflix Original
  1. Production Company: Kate Street Picture Company
  2. Director/Writer: Bong Joon Ho
  3. Writer: Jon Ronson

In a fictional parallel world, a monolithic corporation breeds a special kind of “super pig,” and sends specimens to farmers around the world. Ten years later, a young girl and her beloved pet Okja are crowned the winners of the “Super Pig” competition. But what Okja is subjected to is far from a prize-winning experience as she is catapulted into a frightening world of industrialized farming, one that reflects the grim reality of the ways animals are raised for food.

Megan Leavey– Bleecker Street Media
  1. Production Company: LD Entertainment
  2. Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  3. Writers: Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, Tim Lovestedt
  4. Producers: Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Monroe, Pete Shilaimon

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite of Blackfish fame, this is based on the true-life story of a young U.S. Marine corporal whose unique discipline and unbreakable bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Over the course of their service, Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them. Retired from service in 2012 due to facial palsy, Rex was eventually reunited with Leavey, who officially adopted him.

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY FILM

SLED DOGS – Search Engine Films
  1. Production Company: CCI Entertainment
  2. Director/Producer: Fern Levitt
  3. Producer: Arnie Zipursky

A hard-hitting look at the Iditarod dog sled race held annually in Alaska, which exposes the abusive and treacherous conditions endured by the dogs, many of whom are maimed or die in their efforts to reach the finishing line.

THE LAST PIG – Piggy Films, LLC
  1. Director/Producer/Editor: Allison Argo
  2. Cinematographer/Producer: Joseph Brunette
  3. Editor: David Kennedy
  4. Original Score: Giovanni Spinelli

This unique film by multiple Genesis Award-winning filmmaker Allison Argo tells the story of a small pig farmer who has always tried to do his best for the animals in his care, He allows these curious and affectionate creatures, each with emotions and distinct personalities, free range to forage and to play. Grappling with the moral dilemma of killing his animals, he decides to stop raising pigs. The film is a contemplation on life, death and personal ethics.

SID CAESAR COMEDY AWARD

The Simpsons “Pork and Burns” – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox Television
  1. Executive Producers: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman, John Frink
  2. Written by: Rob Lazebnik
  3. Directed by: Matthew Nastuk

In their typical satirical fashion, this story focuses on the Simpson’s pet pig Plopper, who Marge wants to re-home. Rejecting Plopper’s potential adopters as unsuitable and of suspicious intentions, Homer decides to make the pig his therapy pet. In the process, Plopper becomes his everyday companion and Homer forms a deep bond with him, yet continues to maintain a disconnect between Plopper and the pork chop on his plate. When nasty Mr. Burns steals Plopper, first with nefarious intentions, but then makes him his own emotional-support animal, Homer sets about rescuing his beloved pig and the two are reunited to the tune of “I Will Always Love You.” A relieved Homer even tells Marge that he vows to give up beer to keep Plopper.

OUTSTANDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING

The Loud House “Frog Wild"– Nickelodeon
  1. Director: Kyle Marshall
  2. Producer: Karen Malach
  3. Writer: Kevin Sullivan

The charming and inspiring story of student empowerment and compassion for animals. When the main character and his best friend and pet frog Hops learn of an upcoming frog dissection class, they and other students decide to protest. Succeeding in opening the eyes of their teacher to appreciate frogs as something more than objects, the students convert the frog tank to an enriched ‘frog paradise’ where they can care for the animals, rather than dissect them.

OUTSTANDING NATIONAL TV NEWS MAGAZINE

ABC News Nightline – Giraffes: A Silent Extinction
  1. Correspondent: Juju Chang
  2. Producers: Victoria Thompson, Ozren Millharcic
  3. Senior Producer: Geoff Martz
  4. Executive Producer:Roxanna Sherwood

A rare and urgent report, calling on the world to turn its attention to the imperiled giraffe, whose numbers are far fewer than the embattled elephant. Threatened by urban encroachment, the giraffe is being hunted by trophy hunters and poached for its meat and for body parts that are used in traditional medicine.

ABC News Nightline – Blood Horns
  1. Correspondent: Bob Woodruff
  2. Producer: Christine Romo
  3. Senior Producer: Geoff Martz
  4. Executive Producer:Steven Baker

An eye-opening story on the escalation in rhino poaching (up by 8000%!) in South Africa, and how the poachers have become increasingly militarized and governed by terrorists. It also touches on rhino farms and their dubious role in trying to control the lucrative market in rhino horn.

OUTSTANDING NATIONAL TV NEWS FEATURE

Univision Network News – Harvey, The Dog Who Survived the Hurricane
  1. Correspondent: Carolina Sarassa
  2. Producer: Mara Robles
  3. Photographer/Editor: Scott Monaghan
  4. Executive Producers: Gabriela Tristan, Daniel Coronel, Patsy Loris

The moving account of how one news crew’s coverage of Hurricane Harvey developed into their own story of rescuing a malnourished and abused dog, and how the lucky canine, aptly named Harvey, found a forever home with their videographer.

OUTSTANDING LOCAL NEWS FEATURE

FOX 28/ABC 6, Columbus, Ohio – 12 Ohio Puppy Mills on Humane Society’s List of the “Horrible Hundred”
Investigative Reporter: Kurt Ludlow

Prompted by the “Horrible 100” list of puppy mills, the reporter provides a 101 on the inhumane nature of the puppy mill industry and the state’s efforts to regulate it. Not surprisingly, his attempts to inspect several of the 12 cited Ohio facilities are denied by owners, unwilling to let the cameras expose the hidden conditions.

OUTSTANDING LOCAL NEWS SERIES

FOX 31 KDVR-TV Denver, Colorado – Cyanide Bombs
  1. Investigative Reporter:Chris Halsne
  2. Video Journalist/Editor: Isaias Medina
  3. Investigative Producer: Chris Koeberl

Previous Genesis-winning Chris Halsne’s exposé of the USDA’s lethal, indiscriminate use of cyanide bombs to kill coyotes on behalf of ranchers, a practice that is revealed to be taking a significant toll on other wildlife, pets and people too.

FOX 31 KDVR-TV Denver, Colorado – Unsanctioned Horse Racing Exposed
  1. Investigative Reporters: Chris Halsne and Chris Koeberl
  2. Lead Video Journalist/Editor: Isaias Medina
  3. Videographer: Chris Mosher

Reporters Halsne and Koeberl delve into the shadowy flourishing world of unsanctioned horse racing. At significant personal risk, the team obtained hidden footage, documenting the dangerous conditions for jockeys and spectators, the horse doping and other equine abuses, while local politicians and law enforcement turn a blind eye to these illegal races because they are profiting from them.

KING 5 News, Seattle – "Hound Hunting for Bears Continues Despite Ban"
  1. Environmental Reporter: Allison Morrow
  2. Photojournalist: Andrew Wallace
  3. Chief Editor: Kevin Glantz

A year-long investigation into violations of 1990’s Washington state initiative that banned the hound hunting of bears. Evidence attests to how Washington Fish and Wildlife colluded with the hunting community and tree farmers to exploit a loophole in order to justify the wholesale hound hunting of bears.

OUTSTANDING DAYTIME SHOW

Fox 40 Sacramento – Studio 40 Live “Meat-Less Memorial Day”
  1. Hosts: Lori Wallace and Gary Gelfand
  2. Producer: Sara Harper

A show that has consistently promoted the benefits of a plant-based diet, this segment, advocating a meatless Memorial Day, delivered a strong message about the negative impact of factory farming on animals, the environment and public health.

OUTSTANDING TV DOCUMENTARY

Mission Critical:Orangutan on the Edge – National Geographic
  1. Executive Producer: Jared Lipworth
  2. Series Producer: Simon Boyce
  3. Producer/Writer: David Konschnik

Follows a Nat Geo photojournalist's mission to highlight the plight of the orangutan at the hands of loggers and the palm oil industry. Deviating from other sanctuary-focused documentaries on the subject, this film attempts to shed light on the rarely seen lives of orangutans in the wild, in the hope that by better understanding their behaviors humans can do a better job of protecting them.

War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend – HBO Documentary Films
  1. Executive Producers:Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, Peter Kiernan, Sheila Nevins (for HBO)
  2. Senior Producer: Sara Bernstein for HBO
  3. Producers: Brett Rodriguez, Deborah Scranton
  4. Co-Producer: Colin Hudrock
  5. Director: Deborah Scranton

Poignant first-hand accounts of three veterans and their beloved canine companions. A profound testament to the human-animal bond, this documentary conveys how deeply the soldiers are attached to their dogs, who are respected and valued like any other soldier, but who also offer unique and enduring emotional support both in combat and with the difficulties of adapting to civilian life.

OUTSTANDING TV DOCUMENTARY SERIES

Dian Fossey: Secrets In The Mist – National Geographic
  1. Producer: Frances Casey
  2. Director: Zara Hayes

This 3-part series focuses on the extraordinary life and murder of famed mountain gorilla expert Fossey, whose vital work and passionate activism drew worldwide attention to these endangered animals, and whose legacy rests in the recent recovery of gorilla populations in Rwanda.

OUTSTANDING RADIO

Simon Says “Arcade Hunting: No Tribute to the Great Outdoors” – NPR Weekend Edition

    A gentle, but critical commentary by Scott Simon on Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s decision to install an arcade game called Big Buck Hunter Pro in his department’s cafeteria, and the Secretary’s tweet announcing that it was to celebrate “sportsmen’s contribution to conservation.”

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    REPORTER OF THE YEAR

    Natasha Daly, National Geographic

    Three outstanding stories (one co-written with Rachael Bale) on USDA’s animal welfare database removal, which is hampering efforts to hold regulated parties accountable for the way they treat animals.

  1. U.S. Animal Abuse Records Deleted “What We Stand to Lose”
  2. U.S. Backtracks on Purge of Animal Abuse Records "What We Know”
  3. We Asked the Government Why Animal Welfare Records Disappeared. They Sent 1,700 Blacked-Out Pages.

  4. In a second two-part series of groundbreaking stories, Daly travelled to the Amazon to investigate the growing industry of illegal wildlife tourism and its connection to the ‘selfie’ craze, which helped prompt Instagram to alert its 800 millions users to the cruelty behind cute photos with exotic animals.

  5. Special Report: The Amazon Is the New Frontier for Deadly Wildlife Tourism
  6. Exclusive: Instagram Fights Animal Abuse With New Alert System
  7. OUTSTANDING MAGAZINE FEATURE

    “The Future of Zoos: Challenges Force Zoos to Change in Big Ways” – Time

    Writer: Justin Worland

    This in-depth examination of the ways zoos are evolving to meet the new standards of welfare and ethical considerations for animals in captivity, while improving the experience of visitors

    “The Animal Mind: How They Think, How They Feel, How to Understand Them” – Time Special Edition

    Writer: Jeffrey Kluger

    A fascinating exploration of animal intelligence in all its forms, illuminating the wealth of data and science-based evidence proving that many animal species have sophisticated minds, emotions and complex social behaviors. Under the weight of this compelling evidence, Kluger contends that it’s getting increasingly difficult for humans to justify animal exploitation and cruelty.

    OUTSTANDING EDITORIAL

    Chicago Tribune – Trump Should Keep the Ban on Elephant Trophies

    A forceful condemnation of the decision to reverse the U.S. ban on the import of elephant trophies, which challenges the hunters’ argument that they contribute to conservation by hunting them. It reasons that not enough hunting money goes back into African communities to provide an incentive to protect elephants and it cites the moral implications of killing intelligent, sentient animals for pleasure.

    Chicago Tribune – A Smart Reprieve for Great Lakes Wolves

    A call for continued protections for America’s wolves, whose populations (once 2 million, now down to 4,500) have recovered thanks in part to the Endangered Species Act of ’73. The editorial applauds the U.S. Court of Appeals for DC decision to uphold those protections in the Great Lakes region, stating there’s no justification for hunting this beleaguered species, which is no threat to humans, is not hunted for meat and, despite the claims of ranchers, is a minimal threat to livestock.

    Chicago Tribune – Memo to the West: When You Hunt Grizzlies and Wolves, You Lose Mid-west Tourists

    Following last year’s delisting of Yellowstone region grizzly bears from the federal list of threatened species - which could result in the hunting of bears in some Rocky mountain states - this editorial warned of the impact on the overall grizzly population that has only recently recovered, and how this would affect the region’s tourism. Pointing out that grizzlies are a major visitor attraction and thus a vital boost to the mountain west’s economy, it expresses the hope that federal and state agencies won’t give too much deference to hunters and ranchers, whose actions caused the bears’ precipitous decline some 40 years ago.

    Los Angeles Times – There’s a Grim Reality Behind your Thanksgiving Turkey

    A powerful call for addressing the abuses in the turkey and broiler chicken industry. Describing slaughter methods in graphic detail, the editorial suggests that people should eat less meat to reduce demand, and cites The HSUS’s historic campaign shifting poultry producers to adopt more humane practices, including eliminating the cruelest of slaughter methods.

    USA Today – A Christmas Puppy: The Tail of Animal Welfare

    A timely seasonal condemnation of the puppy mill industry from the nation’s largest-selling newspaper, which calls out the USDA for its inadequate standards for licensed breeders and the fact that the public can no longer check its website for inspection records. It blames retailers for their role in the puppy mill supply chain and recommends that the public should adopt from reputable rescue groups, shelters, etc.

    OUTSTANDING COMMENTARY

    “Animal Cruelty has given me a change of heart on animals used in sporting competition” - Sports Columnist: Norman Chad – The Washington Post

    Inspired by the documentary Sled Dogs, Chad declares that he will no longer write about the Iditarod or the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Reflecting on the cruelty and abuse inherent in many so-called sports involving animals, he concludes: “Animals should not be subjected to our whims, in any way, shape or form, for the sake of our sporting and entertainment needs.”

    OUTSTANDING ONLINE

    Business of Fashion – multiple articles
    Writers
    : Sarah Shannon, Kati Chitrakorn, Tamison O’Connor, Lauren Sherman

    This highly influential fashion media platform has produced a variety of on point articles covering the fur-free issue, from the notable Norway fur ban, the Gucci and Michael Kor fur-free announcements to the growing problem of cheaply produced real fur, which is commonly mis-labelled as faux at the low end of the fashion market.

  8. Gucci
  9. Michael Kors
  10. Real fur sold as faux
  11. Norway’s fur ban
  12. Great Fur Debate
  13. National Geographic Wildlife Watch – “Months After Raid on Infamous Tiger Temple, Plans for Off-Shoot Zoo Forge Ahead”
    Writer: Sharon Guynup

    This extensive feature exposes Thailand’s notorious Tiger Temple’s plans to rebrand itself and open an adjacent zoo, despite its recent run-in with authorities over the “speed-breeding” of tigers and the gruesome discovery of evidence of trafficking in tiger parts. The story highlights Thailand’s lax regulations, where it’s legal to breed tigers, but illegal to trade in tiger parts, which continue to be in demand by China, the largest consumer of tiger parts.

    OUTSTANDING BRIGITTE BARDOT INTERNATIONAL PRINT/ONLINE

    The Guardian – Exclusive Footage Shows Elephants Being Captured in Zimbabwe for Chinese Zoos Writers: Adam Cruise and Christina Russo

    Leading with harrowing undercover video of captured baby elephants being kicked and punched, this story reveals the extent of wild elephant captures in Zimbabwe for export to zoos in China. Although the trade is legal under CITES - between 1995 and 2015, 600 African and 400 Asian elehants were captured from the wild - the piece underscores the lack of international oversight that results in elephants ending up in inhumane facilities.

    The Observer – Africa’s New Elite Force: Women Gunning for Poachers and Fighting for a Better Life
    Writer: Jeff Barbee

    An optimistic article about a pioneering all-female anti-poaching unit, which is changing the face of community conservation in Zimbabwe, and, hopefully, beyond. As it helps to combat the country’s severe poaching problem and puts more money back into local economies than revenues from trophy hunting, the force’s presence may also produce an unexpected side benefit to wildlife. Having adopted a vegan diet, the unit may help raise awareness of meat consumption that could lead to a decreased demand for bushmeat.

    SOCIAL MEDIA

    To Eat or Not Eat Meat? – Univision Network Facebook
    1. Journalists/ Hosts: Carolina Sarassa, Nicolas Ibarguen
    2. Producer: Miguel Reyes,Mayra Rocha

    A groundbreaking 35 minute Facebook Live conversation hosted by two Univision broadcast personalities who discuss and show videos of the abuse of animals on factory farms. According to this discussion, the words ‘vegetarian’ and/or vegan’ are not common among Latinos, but the percentage of Hispanics becoming more conscious of what they eat and how it impacts animals has increased in recent years.

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