Originally posted Friday, April 26, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Two Atlanta media outlets - 90.1/WABE-FM and Fox 5 - took home Peabody Awards this year from the University of Georgia. It’s considered one of the top prizes in both journalism and entertainment. (The entertainment winners were announced last week.)
Hank Klibanoff’s WABE-FM podcast “Buried Truths” exploring civil rights era cold cases, was honored for having “the appeal of the ‘true crime’ genre but constantly strives for deeper historical understanding.” Season one’s “largely forgotten incident,” the Peabody Committee wrote, “gains new immediacy when read alongside Georgia’s more recent struggles over voter suppression, helping us understand how the past touches the present.”
Klibanoff, a former managing editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, found out about the award as he was stepping into his Emory University class for narrative nonfiction writing. “That kept me off the Internet and social media,” he wrote to me Tuesday evening, “so I still had my feet on the ground when I walked out of class. But now, I’m floating. I’m grateful for everyone who helped our work and I can’t wait to get to the next case!”
The podcast’s second season - co-written with retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Richard Halicks - is out now.
Meanwhile, Fox 5’s Randy Travis and his team won a Peabody for an investigative piece about cops using cheap, unreliable drug detection tests to arrest people. They checked 1,000 negative crime lab results in Georgia in 2017 and matched 145 as false positives, meaning 145 people were falsely arrested, many stuck in jail for weeks or months.
‘That’s a big number,” Travis said. “It got people’s attention. It ultimately convinced law enforcement across Georgia and now across the country to change their policies and not make arrests based solely on these $2 test kits.”
Travis, who has been with WAGA-TV since 1990, calls the Peabody “the crown jewel of awards.” And he has a personal connection because as a junior at the Grady School of Journalism nearly four decade ago, he took a class with Dr. Worth McDougald, director of the Peabody Awards program from 1963 until his retirement in 1992. (McDougald died in 2007 at age 82.)
“Every day, he would bring out Peabody Award winning stories from the vault,” Travis said. “We’d listen to a radio show or watch a TV program and study them for storytelling. Now I have a hand in a story that is in the archives!”
Here’s how the Peabody Awards described Travis’ piece
In a prime example of the ripple effect of excellent local investigate reporting, reporter Randy Travis delves into the reliability of drug-testing kits, known as “$2 Tests,” used by police around the country as a quick, cheap way to analyze suspicious substances in the field. Despite warnings of the tests giving false positives, dashcam videos show how police regularly relied on them to arrest individuals for everyday items such as headache powder, vitamins, or cleaning supplies. The coverage led police departments to drop the tests and compelled professional associations to educate law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders on the fallibility of the tests.
Travis was the only name on the award but he wanted to give credit to his team for all their hard work sifting through all that paperwork to get the results that led to those changes: A.J. Willen was the chief photographer;
Mindy Larcom was producer; Randy Rinehart the editor; and Eric Ludgood his boss. Two college students helped as interns: Ashlyn Webb and Saskia Lindsay.
Travis also won an Atlanta Press Club best TV reporting award for the same news story earlier this month.
Here are some of the other winners from the Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence earlier this month:
- Best print/online daily journalist: Joshua Sharpe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Best daily journalist, non-daily: Jessica Noll, WXIA-TV
- Best documentary “Hidden Cost” Shawn Efran, John Carlos Frey, Greg Gilderman, Solly Granatstein, Neil Katz and Marisa Venegas for The Weather Channel Digital and Telemundo along with Efran Films
- Best radio reporting: Grant Blankenship – Georgia Public Broadcasting,
- Best single image photography: John Spink, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Best photo gallery: Noah Berger, Patty Cox, Yagazie Emezi, Edmund D. Fountain, Bear Gutierrez, Kevin Hayes, Spike Johnson, Frederick Meza and Liz Roll – The Weather Channel Digital and individual collaborations with Food & Environment Reporting Network and InsideClimate News
- Best investigative reporting: “Destroyed: How the Trashing of Rape Kits Failed Victims and Jeopardizes Public Safety” with Ashley Fantz, Sergio Hernandez and Sonam Vashi – CNN
- Rising Star Award for journalists under the age of 30: Evelyn Andrews, Reporter Newspapers
-Reporting on Civil and Human Rights – TIED
“Hidden Cost” Shawn Efran, John Carlos Frey, Greg Gilderman, Solly Granatstein, Neil Katz and Marisa Venegas – The Weather Channel Digital and Telemundo along with Efran Films
(The station also won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for innovation.)- Impact Award: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV for their exposure of Mayor Kasim Reed’s office’s violations of open records that led to changes in the current regime’s policies.
Note: I have been an Atlanta Press Club board member since 2009. And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV and WSB radio are all part of Cox Media Group.
11Alive took home ten 2019 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards last week.
- Continuing Coverage: TRIGGER: The Whole Story; Brendan Keefe, Jessica Noll
- Excellence in Innovation: 11Alive
- Excellence in Sound: Soul Food Cypher; Matt Pearl
- Excellence in Writing: Matt Pearl
- Hard News: Eaten Alive; Andy Pierrotti
- Investigative Reporting: FLIPPED: Secrets Inside a Corrupt Police Department; Brendan Keefe, Jeff Reid
- Multimedia: 11Alive.com
- News Documentary: In Construction; Matt Pearl
- News Series: Mothers Matter; Atticus
- Sports Reporting: Cindy’s Run; Matt Pearl
WSB-TV also took home an award:
Excellence in Video Eyes on the Road
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