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WFSU News Team Wins 4 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

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RTDNA
/
Radio Television Digital News Directors Association

WFSU Public Media continues its strong journalism traditions in a year marked by social justice protests, a pandemic and unprecedented stress. The WFSU News Team is being honored this year with four Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, among the most prestigious in broadcast and digital news. The Region 13 recognitions come in the following categories: hard news, video, continuing coverage and news series, and the reporting mirrors some of the biggest stories in North Florida and the nation, last year.

A contentious Presidential election cycle yielded unfounded allegations of voter fraud, and in her report on a Panama City GOP attorney’s attempts to commit voter fraud, Reporter and ATC Host Valerie Crowder found those false allegations of elections malfeasance are leading some people to attempt real fraud. Her story won for continuing coverage.

Social justice protests came to Tallahassee in the wake of the death of George Floyd, but it was another controversial killing in Tallahassee that continues to reverberate and raise concerns about the role media plays in elevating such cases. The police shooting death of Tony McDade, the person who killed Malik Jackson, is now the subject of a case heading to the Florida Supreme Court. In the wake of Jackson and McDade’s deaths, reporter Blaise Gainey examined the events leading McDade to kill Jackson, and McDade’s seeming intent to have police kill him.

“As a journalist I believe the greatest feeling is knowing your story was read and received well by many. It’s been a hard year for journalists, and this reassures me that my work is meaningful,” Gainey said.

As the country grappled with social justice issues, some communities grappled with environmental threats, such as climate change. Florida, with its thousands of miles of coastline, is highly susceptible to the whims of Mother Nature and in North Florida, coastal erosion is threatening seaside communities. Multimedia Reporter Robbie Gaffney’s reporting highlighting what this looks like for Franklin County won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for their breathtaking videography and use of aerial drone images to capture coastal erosion and the people trying to stave it off in order to save their community.

“The WFSU News Team reminds us the critical role reporters play every day to keep us informed of what is happening in the world we live. Whether investigating social justice issues, the environment, corruption or children’s wellbeing, these critical stories challenge us to act and to advocate for our communities to improve outcomes for our citizens. I am so proud that the hard work of our team has been recognized,” said Kimberly Kelling, Director of Content and Community Partnerships for WFSU Public Media.

Last year, WFSU News Director Lynn Hatter was inspired to take a closer look into the child welfare system, specifically, how children have become the fastest-growing group being sent for involuntary psychiatric evaluations in Florida.

Her series “Committed” explored the use of the Baker Act on children, the challenges in changing the law, and the emotional and legal fallout for kids and parents when children get committed. In the wake of that reporting, the Florida legislature this year passed bills strengthening parental notification laws in what some child advocates hope will be a first step in a bigger conversation around curbing youth Baker Acts.

“Kids are struggling. Families are struggling, but what I found in my reporting is that there are other, better and less traumatic ways to address their needs,” said Hatter. “All too often the Baker Act is being used as the first action instead of the last resort, and on many kids who shouldn’t be committed at all. The law was never meant for children, yet more than 37,000 of them were swept into the mental health system and some will deal with that experience for the rest of their lives.”

The “Committed” series was conceived and produced as a project between Lynn Hatter and Health News Florida for the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, a program of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2020 National Fellowship.

About RTDNA:

The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of broadcast and digital journalism.

About WFSU:

WFSU Public Media provides quality public broadcasting services to the north Florida and South Georgia areas. WFSU Public Media is both an NPR and PBS member station, with both TV and FM housed together in one building near Innovation Park. In Panama City, WFSU Public Media is known as WFSG-TV and WFSW-FM. WFSU Public Media also provides community engagement and educational services. Sign up to receive WFSU News in your inbox each morning by visiting wfsu.org/dailynews.

Contact:

Kim Kelling

Director of Content & Community Partnerships

kkelling@fsu.edu

(850) 645-6056