The ProPublica and PBS Frontline project Firestone and the Warlord won two News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Monday night. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored the multimedia package’s documentary in the categories of outstanding investigative journalism, long-form and outstanding research.
Telling the story of the American tire company’s relationship with infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, as it continued managing its rubber plantation during the brutal Liberian civil war, the reporting team shed light on a disturbing episode of history that had been largely ignored.
“’Firestone and the Warlord’ is a revealing look inside the kind of corporate decision-making that often can have huge consequences but little public examination,” said ProPublica editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg. “We are proud of the extraordinary work of our reporters and deeply honored by these awards.”
The joint project involved an intrepid reporting effort that encompassed more than 200 interviews with current and former Firestone employees, members of Taylor’s inner circle, as well as former U.S. diplomats, West African peacekeepers, Liberian government officials, humanitarian aid workers and leaders of warring factions in the civil war. The reporting was also informed by hundreds of records, including declassified diplomatic cables, once-sealed court documents and signed formal agreements showing the specific nature of deals that Firestone struck with Taylor.