WFAA-TV Dallas tops duPont-Columbia awards


The Belo flagship station is the first local station to ever win the highest award, the Golden Baton. 12 other awards went to programs which aired on CNN, PBS, Current, ABC, HBO, WJLA-TV Washington, DC, WTVT-TV Tampa, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Chicago Public Radio, PRI and NPR. The awards will be presented January 22nd at a New York awards ceremony hosted by CBS’ Katie Couric.

The awards for excellence in broadcast journalism were for programs which aired in the United States between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. The duPont Jury also announced that it is expanding the categories of entries for 2008-2009 to include Web-only news broadcasts. The Jury will look for the best example of an original news story using video or audio that is broadcast exclusively on the Internet.

Here are the 13 winners to be honored on January 22nd:

Gold Baton

WFAA-TV, Dallas, Byron Harris & Brett Shipp: “Money for Nothing,” “A Passing Offense,” “The Buried and the Dead”

The duPont-Columbia judges called them “three exemplary investigative reports.” WFAA senior reporters Byron Harris and Brett Shipp, producer Mark Smith, producer, editor and photographer Kraig Kirchem and vice president/news Michael Valentine were recognized with the Gold Baton for their work on three different investigative reports about corruption and waste at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, grade changing for failing high school athletes and the danger posed by aging gas pipeline couplings.

Silver Batons

CNN & Christiane Amanpour: “God’s Warriors”
A six-hour documentary series on the rise of religious fundamentalism and its impact on world events

California Newsreel, San Francisco & Vital Pictures, Boston: “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” on PBS
A seven-part, four-hour series investigates health disparities in the United States and finds they are related to income and race

Current TV & Christof Putzel: “From Russia with Hate”
A courageous report about the neo-Nazi movement in Russia and its use of the Internet to spread hate

Safari Media, ITVS, Chris Sheridan & Patty Kim: Independent Lens,Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story on PBS
A powerful portrait of a family’s suffering after their daughter is abducted

ABC News, Tim Hetherington & Sebastian Junger: “Nightline, The Other War: Afghanistan”
A harrowing look at the frontlines of eastern Afghanistan as a U.S. army platoon battles the Taliban

HBO, Thomas Lennon & Ruby Yang: “Cinemax’s Reel Life: The Blood of Yingzhou District”
A documentary about the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic on children in rural China

WJLA-TV, Washington, DC & Roberta Baskin: Drilling for Dollars: “Children’s Dentistry Investigation”
A series of investigative reports on a chain of dental clinics that exposed small children to unnecessary and painful treatments in a scheme to profit from Medicaid

WTVT-TV, Tampa, & Doug Smith: “Small Town Justice”
A series of investigative reports about the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of a man that helped free him

Oregon Public Broadcasting: “The Silent Invasion”
A documentary about invasive plants, animals and insects and the threats they pose to the environment and agriculture

Chicago Public Radio, PRI, NPR, Alex Blumberg & Adam Davidson: “This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money”
A story about the beginnings of the economic collapse told in a way that makes a complex story accessible to a wide radio and web audience.

NPR, All Things Considered, Melissa Block & Robert Siegel: Coverage of the Chengdu Earthquake
Outstanding on-the-scene reporting of a major breaking news event done with extraordinary skill, sensitivity, and nimbleness.

NPR & Laura Sullivan: “All Things Considered: Sexual Abuse of Native American Women”
A two-part series that exposes gross injustice to women on reservations and the callous inability of bureaucracies to address the problem.