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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Award Winners: Television Feature Reporting


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Monday, July 13, 2009
SDX Award Winners: Television Feature Reporting

CBS News, KARE-TV and KTUU

By Jim Poyser

Feature Reporting (Network/Syndication Service/Program Service)

WINNER: RICK KAPLAN, KIMBERLY DOZIER & ASHLEY VELIE, CBS NEWS

“The War at Home”

Twenty-two year old combat medic Jonathan Norrell volunteered for every mission during his year in Iraq.

He was bombed, ambushed, treating wounded under fire — and the memories still haunt him, CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports.

“The things that affected me the most weren’t the IEDs, which I went through six or seven of, and all the firefights, and all the combat,” Norrell said. “It was the psychological stuff, the people I failed to help.”

By the time he came off his tour of duty he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: anxiety, sleeplessness, flashbacks. Military doctors recommended immediate discharge and treatment but the command refused. …

Norrell’s case reveals the showdown inside the military, between the new school and old school view of how to handle PTSD — one of the signature injuries of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Surviving combat is proving to be only part of the battle for U.S. troops doing multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The next battle comes a few months after they come home and begin dealing with the scars left in heart and mind, from two of the signature injuries of this war: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

After surviving a near-fatal car bomb while on assignment in Iraq in May 2006, Dozier knew firsthand what it was like to come back from severe war injuries and the trauma that ensues. It is through this lens that Dozier and producer Ashley Velie looked at the “war” at home in efforts to make a difference for soldiers and their loved ones back in the U.S.

Judges said that of the competitors in this category, “no one’s reporting impressed more than Kimberly Dozier’s. [Her] interviewing and delivery style are refreshingly direct, simple and effective. A great series, and more than deserving of this award.”

Dozier cites the “emotional toll of telling the stories — you become part of their families, part of their pain, living through it with them. And that is part of the process; by telling their stories, you are changing them, validating their pain by saying it is important enough to share with millions, and hopefully playing some small part thereby in helping them heal.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/mvzjzm



Feature Reporting (Large Market Station: 1-50 Market)

WINNER: BOYD HUPPERT & JONATHAN MALAT, KARE-TV

“Land of 10,000 Stories”

We strive for the corner office. Pay extra for a corner lot. Life at the corners often comes at a premium. But in the far northwestern corner of Minnesota, life has become a lonelier place for Harriet Docken.

“They just dry up, these little towns,” she says. “With nothing to keep them going I guess.”

The trains don’t stop anymore at the depot on Northcote, the once vibrant little community to which Harriet moved nearly 60 years ago. ...

“It’s dwindling all the time,” says Harriet, inside her tidy home at the edge of town. She’s not yet alone in Northcote, but makes her point by holding up four fingers, that she’s close.

This feature, “Struggle for Survival in Kittson County,” was part of a project to literally visit the four corners of Minnesota, including the vanishing prairie town of Northcote.

Judges said: “No one sets a scene or tells a story like [Boyd] Huppert and [Jonathan] Malat. The research and writing combine with outstanding photography to create something close to poetry. They manage to be sensitive without sentimentality; their voice and images seem to retreat and envelope the viewer at the same time. They always put the people their stories are about first, themselves last.”

Huppert said: “The greatest challenge for television journalists these days isn’t finding the stories, but finding the time to do the stories justice. I’m convinced that television stations that remain committed to outstanding photography and writing will emerge the strongest on the other side of this economic downturn.”

Malat agrees, adding: “It’s up to us to make sure our craft flourishes. It is more important than ever to excel at telling compelling stories that rise above all the other Web sites and headlines, to capture human emotion and drama and give our viewers, our communities, something more meaningful.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/koxqyr



Feature Reporting (Small Market Station: 50+ Market)

WINNER: JASON MOORE & SCOTT JENSEN, KTUU

“Shawn’s Long Wait”

Shawn Stockwell is a young boy from Eagle River, Alaska, who needed a heart transplant. Once Shawn was placed on the heart recipient registry, he was forced to travel to Stanford University to be close to the hospital in case the donor heart arrived.

It turned into a long and agonizing wait.

Reporter Jason Moore and photographer Scott Jensen traveled to California to do the story on Shawn as he approached his two-year anniversary of being away from home.

Judges lauded the “strong collaboration between photographer and reporter [as] the copy and images work in perfect unison.” They note: “Including messages in the report from the boy’s friends back home adds a unique and emotional element to the story. The viewer comes away with a sense of hope and strength, not pity, and this is one reason this story is exceptional — masterfully told in words and images. Any broadcast journalist can view ‘Shawn’s Long Wait’ as an example of the criteria that we as professional storytellers hold dear and strive to achieve.”

Reporter Jason Moore said: “The most difficult, and most important, aspect is the relationship cultivated between the family and the journalist. While it’s important to keep a certain emotional distance from the subject, in this case, I couldn’t help but become close to the family as it endured this struggle. Because of that relationship, we gained the access necessary to tell the story, and I think it provided an extra emotional connection that came through in the interviews.

“We continued tracking the progress of Shawn, and actually returned to California later in the year when a heart donor finally arrived. We saw Shawn and spoke with the family the day after the heart transplant and did live reports from our affiliate in San Jose. The family has talked about someday meeting the family of the heart donor. I would like to be there to tell the story.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/lzmsds



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