Pubcasters pick up 32 national Murrow Awards

By Sean Meehan

Public broadcasting outlets and nonprofit news organizations took 32 of the 98 national Edward R. Murrow Awards presented this year by the Radio Television Digital News Association to recognize the best in electronic journalism. 

Chicago’s WBEZ and the Texas Tribune stood out among the field of public media winners announced June 11, taking top honors for overall excellence among  large-market radio stations and small online news organizations, respectively.

The inside of a glacier cave in Oregon

Oregon Public Broadcasting won an Edward R. Murrow Award for best news documentary in a large market for its exploration of the Glacier Caves in Mount Hood. (Photo: Brent McGregor, Oregon Public Broadcasting)

KNAU in Flagstaff, Ariz., which like other local pubcasters rose to the national Murrows through RTDNA’s regional competitions, received three trophies in the division for small-market radio stations. It was the only public radio station to receive multiple trophies in divisions for local broadcasters. NPR and New York’s WNYC topped two or more categories in the network radio and television division. 

The majority of pubcasting winners were local radio stations, and pubcasters took national Murrows in the small- and large-market divisions in multiple radio categories — investigative reporting, news documentary, news series, best writing and best website.

In the competition among small online news organizations, the Texas Tribune took a second trophy for online video. iNewSource, an investigative news site that partners with San Diego’s KPBS, also received two awards in this division, winning for investigative reporting and hard news reporting. Additional trophies went to the Seattle Globalist, for news documentary, and StateImpact: Indiana Education, operated by WFIU/WTIU in Bloomington, for website audio. 

In the network radio division, NPR received three of the seven awards presented to pubcasters. It won for  best website and in two reporting categories: for a news series on crime in Latin America and investigative reporting on grain bin entrapment deaths.

Two Public Radio International series produced by WNYC also won in the network division:

Studio 360 for its feature story “Trauma Healed with Design” which focused how builders and designers commemorate tragedies; and The Takeaway,  for use of sound/video in “JFK’s Unspoken Speech.” 

Network radio awards also went to State of the Re:Union, produced at WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., for the news documentary “The Hospital Always Wins” and to American Public Media’s Marketplace, cited for hard news reporting on chemical pollution in China.

Two public TV stations won in divisions for large- and small-market TV stations. Oregon Public Broadcasting took the national Murrow for best news documentary in a large market with its exploration of Mount Hood’s glacier caves, while KCET in Burbank, Calif., won among small-market stations for sports reporting with a cheerleading story “Nothing to Cheer About.”

In the small-market radio division, all of KNAU’s winning regional entries took national prizes:  “Building Hope in Haiti” was named  best news series and cited for best writing, while the station also picked up a Murrow  for its continued coverage of a wildfire that killed 19 firefighters last June.

 Additional winners in the small-market radio division:

North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., for best feature reporting;

WFPL in Louisville, Ky., for investigative reporting on failures in Indiana’s legal system “The Man With Many Chances”;

WUOT in Knoxville, Tenn., for a news documentary on living with HIV;

North Country Public Radio in Canton, NY won for best feature reporting in a small market.

WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., for hard-news reporting on waste and storm-water management;

KBIA in Columbia, Mo., for best radio website;

In addition to WBEZ’s Murrow for overall excellence, eight additional pubcasters took awards in the large-market radio division:

WGBH in Boston for investigative reporting in an eight-part series on human trafficking “Underground Trade”;

KALW in San Francisco for the news documentary “The Race to an Emergency,” which tracked the response procedure around a 911 call in Oakland, Calif.;

WCPN-FM in Cleveland for the news series “The Working Poor”;

WFAE in Charlotte, N.C. for hard-new coverage of a protest outside the state capitol by church leaders and the North Carolina NAACP,

KQED in San Francisco for use of sound/video in a story about elephant seal dating;

KUT in Austin, Texas, for sports reporting;

Georgia Public Broadcasting for writing; and

Minnesota Public Radio, for best radio website.

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