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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Award Winners: Television Public Service


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Monday, July 13, 2009
SDX Award Winners: Television Public Service

CBS Evening News Weekend Edition and KTUU

By Jim Poyser

Public Service in Television (Network/Syndication Service/Program Service)

WINNER: “CBS EVENING NEWS, WEEKEND EDITION”

“AIDS in the African American Community”

This story originated after the release of a report by a Southern-based AIDS advocacy group, indicating that Southern states, particularly rural and minority communities, are hard-hit by AIDS.

Producer Alturo Rhymes and correspondent Randall Pinkston believe that the issue of HIV and AIDS, particularly among minority communities, “has sometimes failed to get sufficient media attention. It involves a demographic group, the poor and disenfranchised, who usually don’t receive institutional benefits such as health care.”

“We think that we, in news media, should care about that group of people and cover their issues.”

Over the course of a month, extensive research was gathered involving funding, issues of health care and services, and adequate counseling facilities. The research kept pointing the journalists back to one basic question.

Why the South?

What they found was that cultural issues have as much to do with the crisis as do medical or financial issues. The stigma of HIV is so great, facilities that treat patients can’t even put signs identifying them as clinics on the exterior of their buildings. This detailed look at the stigma led the team, which also included executive producer Patricia Shevlin and editor Paul Rose, to an exploration of the African-American church, which has largely defined cultural and social experiences for a vast majority of blacks in the South.

Judges said the story created “an awareness that the black community needs to address the cultural barriers that lead to the continuing spread of AIDS in its community. The story also delves into the role that the black church plays in perpetuating the cultural bias against men with alternative lifestyles as well as accepting the duplicity of black married men pursuing sex with other males. Getting interviews on such intimate and taboo subjects as adultery, homosexual relationships and AIDS took effort to build a relationship of trust between a reporter and the people in the story.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/m4gor5



Public Service in Television (Small Market Station: 50+ Market)

WINNER: KTUU

“Ted Stevens’ Criminal Trial”

One month; 37-plus live shots; 78 stories and counting. On assignment in D.C., reporter Jill Burke and photojournalist Carolyn Hall documented the Ted Stevens trial, which cost the nation’s longest-serving Republican senator his career.

With Stevens’ bid for re-election looming, his possible freedom at stake and his desire for a speedy trial, KTUU felt the trial was too important to not have a hometown crew covering it.

Their daily coverage involved many 15-hour days.

Burke said: “I don’t think most people outside the industry realize the logistical challenge the story posed for us. Not only were we covering the full day’s proceedings, but we had to get back to the studio to write, voice, edit, feed and then front our stories for evening news broadcasts back in Anchorage. We didn’t have field producers or a support crew. We were it: a two-person team doing the best we could.”

Hall added: “We took the coverage very seriously, and I think Alaskans know that we understood how important that story was to them, given the resources allocated for the coverage. We could have made the decision to rely on wire reports, or hire fill-in crews, but KTUU was willing to make the investment to support this kind of project.”

Judges praised Burke for making a complicated legal case understandable. “She explained the legal issues, condensed days of testimony into easy-to-understand and concise reports. They met the challenge of creating video where there was none. This kind of commitment is to be awarded, and it encourages others to keep the public informed.”

Burke said: “This is the kind of in-the-trenches journalism that we feel the public deserves. It’s our job to be there when they can’t be, to be their eyes and ears and to contribute to their understanding of people and events to the best of our capability.”

More online: http://tinyurl.com/l9nub4

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