Award central: WABE’s ‘Buried Truths’ podcast, Fox 5 take home Peabody’s; Atlanta Press Club, regional Edward R. Murrow award winners
Hank Klibanoff, shown here with his producer David Barasoain for the WABE-FM podcast “Buried Truths,” will talk about Pulitzer Prize-winning author T.S. Stribling at the upcoming Lost Southern Voices Festival. RODNEY HO / RHO@AJC.COM
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!”
Randy Travis of Fox 5 accepting an Atlanta Press Club TV Reporting Award for "$2 Tests, Bad Arrests" on April 16, 2019.
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.”
“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
Joshua Sharpe of the AJC receives his reward for best daily reporting.
- 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
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.