January 14, 2010
KHOU 11 News Defenders Win Prestigious duPont-Columbia Award
Local Inestigative Unit Continues to Gain Industry Recognition for Journalistic Excellence
HOUSTON - KHOU TV has won a 2010 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, regarded as one of the most coveted honors in broadcast journalism. The station was recognized for the 11 News Defenders one-hour special "Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard." This is the fourth duPont-Columbia Award won by KHOU's investigative team.
"One of the most important jobs of a news organization is to inform the public by questioning the institutions that are supposed to serve them," said Susan McEldoon, KHOU President and General Manager. "It is a commitment we don't take lightly and we are grateful for the acknowledgment that comes with the duPont Columbia Silver Baton."
"Under Fire" was the culmination of a two-year investigation by the 11 News Defenders. During the course of their investigation, Reporter Mark Greenblatt, Executive Producer for Investigative David Raziq and Photojournalist Keith Tomshe unearthed a series of deep-rooted problems in the Texas National Guard that ultimately led to the firing of three top Generals.
The investigation found high-ranking female officers being pushed out of the National Guard through harassment, punishment and sabotage by an all-male leadership. It was then discovered that subsequent discrimination investigations were often mired at the highest levels. The unraveling continued when the Defenders exposed other forms of corruption, including embezzlement, double-billing and the funding of private businesses with National Guard resources.
"The corruption in the Texas National Guard went on for years, until the 11News defenders finally brought it to light," said Keith Connors, KHOU Executive News Director. "We're honored and humbled by this award and accept it on behalf of the brave soldiers who came forward and put their reputations on the line to help us tell this story."
Since KHOU's investigative unit launched in 1998, the Defenders have won every major national award for journalism, some of those multiple times. The unit is a three-time winner of the National Edward R. Murrow Award and two-time winners of the Peabody, Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi, Scripps Howard and Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards. Other accolades include the George Polk, National Headliner, National Press Club and Charles E. Green Awards.
Most recently, the Defenders received the award for Outstanding Regional News Story Investigative Reporting presented at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards Ceremony the only station in Houston to ever be honored in that category.
Over the last decade, the team has not only reported the news, but has also made the news as a result of its investigations. First, it exposed problems with rollover crashes linked to Firestone Tires. Not only did that investigation cause a congressional investigation, but it eventually led to a world-wide recall and changes in tire and auto design. As a result, the Defenders were featured in high-profile stories in the New York Times, the Washington Post, 60 Minutes and news outlets across the world.
The team was again recognized for revealing how bad science in the Houston Police Department DNA Lab was sending innocent people to prison. Besides freeing those who were wrongly convicted, the investigation ignited a national dialogue on the quality of forensic science by local and federal law enforcement. More recently the team has been singled out for exposing the questionable surveillance of Coretta Scott King by the FBI and causing the retirement of a powerful District Attorney after uncovering racist and sexist emails he sent to subordinates and colleagues.
To view the du-Pont Columbia award-winning special, "Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard," visit http://www.khou.com/news/investigative/under-Fire-discrimination-and-Corruption-in-the-Texas-National-Guard-80414077.html.
About Belo Corp.
KHOU-TV is part of Belo Corp. (BLC), one of the nation's largest pure-play, publicly-traded television companies, with 2008 annual revenue of $733 million. The Company owns and operates 20 television stations (nine in the top 25 markets) and their associated Web sites. Belo stations, which include affiliations with ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW and MyNetwork TV, reach more than 14 percent of U.S. television households in 15 highly-attractive markets. Belo stations rank first or second in nearly all of their local markets. Additional information is available at www.belo.com, www.khou.com or by contacting Lisa Shumate, Director of Programming and Marketing, KHOU TV at 713-521-4335.