April 1, 2011

KING 5 Investigators among the Best at National Headliner Awards

Seattle, WA - The National Headliner Awards Committee recently announced the 2011 winners for outstanding achievement in journalism and the KING 5 Investigators finished strong in two categories:

Investigative Reporting, all markets:
"Their Crime, Your Dime"
KING 5: Chris Ingalls, Kellie Cheadle, Steve Douglas
Second Place

Documentary or Series of Reports on the Same Subject, all markets:

"Waste on the Water"
KING 5: Susannah Frame, Kellie Cheadle, Steve Douglas, Doug Burgess
Third Place

"The KING 5 Investigators identified wasteful appropriation of taxpayer money inside our state's welfare system and our state ferries and told viewers what was really happening", said Mark Ginther, Executive News Director of KING 5, KONG 6/16, and NWCN. "While it's nice to be recognized by our peers for a job well done, the real reward here is seeing changes being made by the state to address misuse of taxpayer dollars as a result of our investigations."

In the "Their Crime, Your Dime" series, the KING 5 Investigators found rampant fraud in the state and federal welfare system and revealed the government was doing little to stop it. They caught Seattle merchants operating a broad scheme to cheat the food stamp program. They caught welfare recipients spending millions of dollars in the state's casinos and other adult establishments. With the help of a formerly homeless man, law enforcement sources, public records requests, computer-assisted reporting, and careful use of hidden cameras, they produced stories that uncovered issues of importance to the community and quickly made a significant impact. As a result, the Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services announced she would put an end to welfare card access in casinos. Recently she announced that DSHS is structuring a new fraud-fighting unit called the Office of Fraud and Accountability with plans to add additional investigators to launch a crackdown against fraud that she admits has gone unchecked for too long.

The "Waste on the Water" series documented tens of millions of dollars of systemic wasteful spending and a lack of accountability in the Washington State Ferries. For example, they uncovered one lucrative perk where ferry employees raked in thousands of dollars a year in travel time and mileage pay to drive to and from the exact same office, simply because their jobs were classified as "Special Projects". Some projects lasted 12 to 15 years. The series had significant impact. Just ten days after the story on special projects aired, the state announced they were ending the 30-year old practice. An overtime policy was implemented the first of its kind in 50 years. The governor ordered a full review of the ferry system. Just this month, the state and ferry unions struck tentative deals to cut out some of the lucrative perks ferry workers have had for decades. The agreements are historic in nature and, if ratified by union members, will save the state $10 million a year.

In January, KING 5 received a 2011 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award for the "Waste on the Water" investigative series.

The National Headliner Awards program, established by the Press Club of Atlantic City in 1934, is one of the oldest and largest annual journalism contests. More information is available online at National Headliner Awards.

About Belo Corp.
KING 5 is part of Belo Corp. (BLC), one of the nation's largest pure-play, publicly-traded television companies, that 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.