January 12, 2009
WFAA-TV is First Local News Station Honored with Prestigious duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton for Investigative Reporting
January 12, 2009 Dallas, Texas - WFAA has been honored with the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton, and becomes the first local television station to ever receive the prestigious award.
WFAA has previously been honored with eight Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons for journalism. The duPont is considered the broadcast equivalent of print journalism's famed Pulitzer Prize. The Gold Baton is the most prestigious of the duPont-Columbia Awards.
"In these difficult economic times, some news stations may lose their way," said Mike Devlin, WFAA president and general manager. "It's important that we maintain credibility and stay connected to our core values. This award reinforces that belief."
WFAA senior reporters Byron Harris and Brett Shipp, producer Mark Smith, producer, editor and photographer Kraig Kirchem and vice president/news Michael Valentine were recognized with the Gold Baton for their work on three different investigative reports about corruption and waste at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, grade changing for failing high school athletes, and the danger posed by aging gas pipeline couplings.
News 8 Investigates exemplify the best in local broadcast coverage. Harris' series Money for Nothing, uncovered fraudulent loans to support sales by Texas companies to spurious importers in Mexico. Shipp's series, A Passing Offense, exposes how coaches, principals and teachers change grades so that failing student athletes can qualify to compete. Shipp's stories on The Buried and the Dead resulted in gas companies being ordered to remove faulty gas couplings in order to prevent more explosions at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
Other duPont honorees this year include CNN, HBO, ABC News and National Public Radio.
The duPont Awards, administered since 1968 by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, are considered to be the most prestigious broadcast journalism awards and the equivalent of the Pulitzer, which are also administered at the Journalism School.
About Belo Corp.
WFAA is owned by Belo Corp., one of the nation's largest pure-play, publicly-traded television companies, with 2007 annual revenue of $777 million. The Company owns and operates 20 television stations reaching more than 14 percent of U.S. television households, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW and MyNetwork TV affiliates, and their associated Web sites, in 15 highly-attractive markets across the United States. Belo stations consistently deliver distinguished journalism for which they have received significant industry recognition including nine Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Awards; nine George Foster Peabody Awards; and 23 national Edward R. Murrow Awards all since 2000, and in each case more than any other commercial station group in the nation. Nearly all Belo stations rank first or second in their local market. Belo owns stations in seven of the top 25 markets in the nation, with six stations located in the fast-growing, top-14 markets of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Seattle/Tacoma and Phoenix. Additionally, the Company has created regional cable news channels in Texas and the Northwest increasing its impact in those regions. Additional information is available at www.belo.com or by contacting Dave Muscari, WFAA vice president/product development, at 214.977.6490.