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WFAA-TV, Public Media Programs Receive duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards

duPont-Columbia/Columbia University

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards were announced today by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Winners include several public media documentaries,as well as WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in Dallas-Fort Worth. WFAA and reporter Byron Harris will be honored for a  two-year investigative series “Dentacaid: Medicaid Dental Abuse in Texas,” that exposed pediatric dental Medicaid fraud.

WFAA is among six of this year’s recipients that featured investigative reporting. Here's a look at how the station covered the story:

Behind the Story - WFAA from Alfred I. duPont Awards on Vimeo.

Among the programs that wonthat aired on public TV or radio stations or partnered with public media:

American Documentary – POV
Gail Dolgin & Robin Fryday
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” on PBS

  • In this short film, Alabama barber and civil rights veteran James Armstrong experienced the fulfillment of an unimaginable dream: the election of the first African American president. Armstrong, who went to jail and risked his life to fight for civil rights in the 1960s, was one of many average citizens who became “foot soldiers” for the cause in the South. The directors wove historical events through Armstrong’s journey with humor and poignancy, telling the larger narrative of the civil rights movement through his life.

Center for Investigative Reporting “Broken Shield”

  • In this multimedia project from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization, investigative reporter Ryan Gabrielson spent 18 months investigating the failures of a special California state police force assigned to protect residents of state facilities with severe mental and emotional disabilities. Gabrielson exposed how sworn officers and detectives waited too long to start investigations, failed to collect evidence and ignored key witnesses leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes. Dozens of women were sexually assaulted inside state centers. To tell some of their stories, CIR produced multimedia videos illustrating specific cases that appeared online, on air on major market television stations and on public radio. As a result of the project, a criminal investigation was launched and new laws were passed in California. 

U. C. Berkeley IRP, CIR, Frontline and Univision “Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño”

  • This collaboration between the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Frontline and Univision produced a cross-platform documentary that focused on an overlooked subject: the sexual abuse, with impunity, of female migrant farm workers. The team documented the stories of farm workers who were preyed upon by their field bosses and co-workers telling the story through a series of interviews with the victims, some all the more vulnerable because they are undocumented. The reporters tracked down some of the men accused of these crimes, often years after they occurred. The collaboration, including the first ever between Frontline and Univision, enabled this multi-lingual effort to reach across the country and into the fields themselves.

WBEZ Chicago This American Life: “Harper High School Parts 1 and 2”

  • Two consecutive radio stories from This American Life brought audiences inside a school on Chicago’s south side that lost eight students to gun violence in the previous academic year. Three reporters spent five months following students, staff and families with remarkable access as they struggled to cope with the trauma and the aftermath of the loss.

WYPR, Baltimore “The Lines Between Us”

  • This interactive project from Baltimore’s public radio station incorporated WYPR's talk programs, social media, extended interviews, personal narratives, produced pieces and digital platforms for "opportunities around town to advance the conversation about race, class and community," along with regular solicitations on air and online for story ideas from audiences.

Learn more about the winners here.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.