2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners


WKOW-TV, Madison & Dan Cassuto

"Who's Protecting You?"

A relentless investigation into a local consumer protection agency

WKOW-TV's determined eight-month investigation into the State of Wisconsin's Bureau of Consumer Protection revealed that the agency was not helping a large number people who brought complaints to it. Reporter Dan Cassuto did the legwork, tracking down internal documents to determine the agency's methodology, and interviewing ordinary people who were disappointed by their local government. It is a powerful use of limited resources. Graphic elements helped illuminate the issue. In this well-written, well-researched, and concisely told series of reports, we see the irony of a local protection agency that is not protecting its community.

Dan Cassuto, reporter, producer; Drew Smith, editor, photographer; Mike  Kellogg, Ryan Moore, Jason Weiss, photographer; Gregg Kuh, graphic artist; Perry Boxx, executive producer, news director


2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners

ABC News

20/20, Brian Ross Investigates: The Coach's Secret

An expert investigation into the failure of a government agency to protect dozens of young female swimmers from abusive coaches

In this superb investigative report, Brian Ross and his team exposed a problem few would suspect; more than 30 youth swim coaches have been banned over the last decade for sexual misconduct. Dating back several decades, Ross interviews victims, parents and one current coach to piece together dozens of cases of sex abuse complaints. With insight, balance and fairness, the program revealed the systemic failures of USA Swimming, the government agency assigned to protect young female swimmers. Ross confronted the head of the agency in a skillful interview. This groundbreaking report led to change and action at USA Swimming to protect young swimmers.

Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent; Megan Chuchmach, producer; Avni Patel, producer; Tom Marcyes, Jack Pyle, editors; Rhonda Schwartz, chief investigative producer; David Sloan, executive producer; Mark Schone, digital managing editor


BBC America

BBC World News America: Haiti's Earthquake

Excellent breaking news coverage of the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath

Under terrible conditions, Matt Frei and Matthew Price covered Haiti in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake with solid and compassionate reporting. The reporters and their crew demonstrated great courage walking into the wreckage and scenes of unrest to get the story. With sober resolve on the ground, they accurately captured the unfolding tragedy. As a result viewers saw new angles of the news that were not reported elsewhere; intensely personal stories arising out of a catastrophe and told through the eyes of Haitians. Careful writing and shrewd observation in the reporting bolstered the strong images of a country in chaos.

Rome Hartman, executive producer; Ian Sherwood, producer; Peter Murtaugh, Keith "Chuck" Tayman, videographers, editors; Matt Frei, Matthew Price, correspondents


CBS News

60 Minutes: The Blowout

An outstanding two-part investigative report that advanced a breaking story about the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon

In the middle of a breaking story, Scott Pelley and his team produced a model of investigative reporting uncovering new information from a central figure in the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The information from their interview with an eyewitness broke news laying out a series of mishaps in the weeks leading to the disaster that provided valuable clues about what went wrong. Their creative use of first-rate graphics helped viewers understand what happened on the oil rig and underground to cause the explosion. With spare and effective writing, the team produced both a riveting and harrowing story.

Jeff Fager, executive producer; Bill Owens, executive editor; Scott Pelley, correspondent; Michael Radutzky, senior producer; Graham Messick, producer; Solly Granatstein, producer


KCET, Los Angeles

Up In Smoke, CalOSHA Investigation, Hung Out to Dry?

Three in-depth stories that exposed elected representatives who don't do their jobs on the local, state and federal level

KCET's reporting teams showcased television journalism at its best in these three stories. In the series of reports "Up in Smoke", "Cannabis Cowboys", and "The Doctor Is In", a team of reporters exposed the rapid, and often illegal growth of medical marijuana shops in Los Angeles with thorough sourcing, excellent writing and strong production. In "CalOSHA", a stunning six-month investigation, another team revealed negligence and fraud by a state agency mandated to protect workers by tracking down documents, finding victims and talking to officials on the record. And in "Hung Out to Dry," a national issue was brought down to a local level with clear, thorough and well produced reporting that brought change to the community.

John Larson, Steve Lopez, Judy Muller, Vince Gonzales, reporters; Karen Foshay, Rick Wilkinson, producers; Val Zavala, anchor; Justine Schmidt, senior producer; Linda Burns, supervising producer; Alexandria Gales, Lata Pandya, associate producers; Alberto Arce, Michael Bloecher, editors; Robert Vega, graphics; Steve Proffitt, web producer; Brian Frank, web associate producer; Bret Marcus, executive producer


KING-TV, Seattle & Susannah Frame

Waste on the Water

A series of impactful reports that uncovered waste and saved tens of millions of tax dollars

With original reporting, excellent camera work and tenacity, Susannah Frame's four-month investigation into waste and misused tax dollars in the Seattle ferry system saved the community millions of dollars. At a time when fares are increasing, the compelling series of reports broke new ground by unraveling paper trails of the Washington State Ferry system with clear writing and graphics. The station dedicated resources to telling this important story. Ten days after the KING 5's stories ran, the state dropped the wasteful program, and local officials have pledged accountability and transparency. 

Susannah Frame, reporter; Kellie Cheadle, producer; Steve Douglas, photographer; Doug Burgess, photographer; Mark Ginther, news director


9News/KUSA-TV, Denver

9News at 10, Keys to the Castle

A relentless six-month investigation that revealed one noxious scam

The 9News team spent months unraveling a string of predatory frauds that created two sets of victims – those facing foreclosure and those looking to rent. They followed the story halfway around the world to expose a man taking advantage of foreclosed homeowners and desperate renters in five states, including Colorado. The team talked to dozens of victims, used local, state and federal public records, court records, surveillance and social networking to uncover the plot. Their dogged reporting sparked state and federal investigations of similar fraud in other states, and is a telling part of the larger story of America's mortgage crisis.

Jace Larson, investigative reporter; Nicole Vap, investigative executive producer; Anna Hewson, investigative producer, photojournalist


NPR & Laura Sullivan

Bonding for Profit

A three-part series about the deeply flawed bail bonds system

NPR's Laura Sullivan takes an unblinking look at the bail bonding industry in this original piece of expository journalism. There is a stunning reveal of a system where non-violent offenders are held because they are poor or lacking resources. More public money will be spent on jails as non-violent offenders grow. Sullivan's writing crackles with insight and storytelling based on hard facts. She spent months following a prisoner who cannot make $400 bail, and interviewed law enforcement officials. The series also brings to light the other side of the industry – lobbyists for bail bondsmen and their clout. The series helped spark a larger debate about early release programs and those who profit from the current system. 

Laura Sullivan, correspondent; Steven Drummond, senior national editor


POV & Geoffrey Smith

The English Surgeon on PBS

A powerful documentary about a doctor coming to terms with the power and limits of medicine

An outstanding documentary portrait of a compassionate British surgeon and his Ukrainian protégé that takes a universal issue and engages viewers close up; how issues of access to health care and resources play out in different countries. The filmmaker gained extraordinary access, superbly reported and visualized this story over time and distance. The story is beautifully shot and edited. In stark terms, the viewer sees what it means not to have access to health care. Raw scenes of surgery in Ukraine are deftly edited, as are scenes of the doctors' honest reflections on the power and limits of medicine. The haunting story of one surgery that went wrong especially resonates.

Geoffrey Smith, director, producer; Graham Day, director of photography; Kathy O'Shea, editor; Rachel Wexler, co-producer; Nick Cave, soundtrack composer; Warren Ellis, soundtrack composer; Darrell Briggs, James Thompson, sound recordists; Tony Wilson, online editor, colorist; Mike Wabro, dialogue editor; Slava Feofilaktov, 2nd unit director; Shreepali Patel, 2nd unit director; Anatoly Gagramanov, 2nd unit camera; Gerard McCann, music editor; Jake Jackson, music recorder; Sheila Humphreys, production manager; Irena Zaytseva, production manager; Sally Jo Fifer, executive producer for ITVS; Greg Sanderson, executive producer for BBC; Nick Fraser, executive producer for BBC; Simon Kilmurry, executive producer for POV


The Las Vegas Sun

 Bottoming Out: Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas

A multimedia series about the human toll of compulsive gambling

This is a compelling and informative look at the human toll of compulsive gambling as well as the brain behavior and science of the gambling industry. The series is strengthened by a powerful video diary following one man's descent into gambling addiction with strong interactive engagement. The Las Vegas Sun explored problem gambling three ways — through the experiences of an addict using a citizen journalist; by examining what happens inside the brain of an addict; and by considering the role of slot machine designs in feeding gambling addictions. The web site also provides support and resources to help gambling addicts.

Scott Den Herder, story producer, videographer, reporter; Liz Benston, Patrick Coolican, reporters; Tony McDew, videographer; Danny DeBelius, web page designer; Tyson Anderson, flash graphics producer; Leila Navidi, photographer; Rob Curley, executive producer 


West Virginia Public Broadcasting & Trey Kay

The Great Textbook War

A superbly told radio documentary about a 1974 debate over multiculturalism

In this evenhanded, painstaking and eye-opening documentary, Trey Kay explores the complex and volatile 1974 debate over multicultural textbooks in a West Virginia community that set the stage for today's Tea Party movement. The events in the documentary foreshadowed today's populist revolt and polarizing political debate. Kay and his team skillfully used archival audio from community board hearings from the time and revisited the principals to demonstrate the complexity at the heart of what has been portrayed as an "us against them" narrative. The story artfully builds tension starting with local battles and slowly incorporated the impact of the national media attention.

Trey Kay, reporter, producer; Deborah George, co-producer, editor; Anna Sale, associate producer; Jonathan Mitchell, associate producer; Mia Lobel, associate producer; Rosa Mayer, associate producer; Michael Lipton, musical scoring; Tristram Lozaw, musical scoring


WGBH, FRONTLINE & Najibullah Quraishi

Behind Taliban Lines

Extraordinary reporting about Taliban fighters in Afghanistan

Afghan video journalist Najibullah Quraishi took incredible risks to tell this important story for FRONTLINE. He negotiated extraordinary access to a part of northern Afghanistan that has quietly reverted to Taliban control and embedded with a Taliban unit that was planning and executing attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces. Quraishi brought out riveting details of insurgent life including bomb-making and infighting, ineptitude and resilience. In this significant piece of journalism, he also captures the international make-up of the group of fighters. Quraishi's first-rate reporting and enterprise provided rare insight into an enemy almost never seen.

Jamie Doran, writer and producer; Najibullah Quraishi, reporter and videographer; Ken Dornstein, senior producer; John Moffat, Mark Dugas, editors; Mike Healy, additional videography; Tracey ‘H' Doran-Carter, production manager; Will Lyman, narrator; Jim Ferguson, online editor; Jim Sullivan, sound mix; Andrew McEntee, associate producer; Tom Greenwood, assistant producer; Melaney Doran, production assistant; Penelope Bacle, Jim Mullins, researchers; Barney Freeman, Ben Vella, composers; Raney Aronson, series senior producer; David Fanning, executive producer


WTHR-TV, Indianapolis & Bob Segall,

"Reality Check: Where Are the Jobs?"

Dogged reporting that exposed government fraud and prompted reform

As Indiana's unemployment rate soared, this intrepid eight-month investigation by WTHR-TV exposed how state leaders inflated official job statistics through a quasi-state agency shrouded in secrecy. When the agency refused to give the station proof to back up its numbers, WTHR's investigative team visited hundreds of so-called "economic success stories." They found abandoned factories and empty cornfields where the governor and the agency claimed there were tens of thousands of new jobs. State lawmakers launched their own investigation after the series aired. Comparing practices with adjoining states helped underscore the bad practices in Indiana. The series is an example of outstanding reporting in the public service.

Bob Segall, investigative reporter, producer; Cyndee Hebert, producer; Bill Ditton, photojournalist

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