15th Annual Sentinel Awards (2014)

Image of Sentinel Awards Logo

More than 60 entries that span network and cable entertainment have been submitted for the 2014 Sentinel Awards, which recognize exemplary achievements in television storylines that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives.

The awards are sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented by Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. This year, they will honor excellence in the following categories: Drama, Comedy, Serial Drama, Climate Change, Reality/Talk/Documentary, Children’s Programming and Spanish-language.

“TV writers and producers not only entertain audiences, but they affect them as well,” said Martin Kaplan, director of The Norman Lear Center. “We know this both from our research, and from stories that viewers tell. This award recognizes the responsible and creative use of that power by television writers and producers.”

Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society, added that “writers know that accurate and realistic portrayals make for more compelling stories. They contact us because they know we will provide them with information and access to credible experts—fast and for free. We work with dozens of shows across all genres, networks and cable channels on just about any health or climate change topic you can imagine.”

The 2014 winners will be selected through two rounds of judging. Subject matter experts from the CDC and other partner organizations will review entries for accuracy. Judges from entertainment and public health organizations will review finalists in each category for entertainment value and benefit to the viewing audience to determine the winners.

For many loyal viewers, TV dramas and comedies provide both entertainment and information about disease, injury and disability. Through their portrayals of characters, writers and producers have a unique opportunity to touch viewers’ lives. The way a popular character deals with a personal health decision can prompt audience members to think about their own choices. A compelling storyline that demonstrates risky behavior and consequences, or shows how to avoid risk, portrays social determinants of health or examines global health issues, can benefit millions of viewers around the world.