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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: TV public service, other markets


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Friday, June 30, 2006
SDX Awards: TV public service, other markets

Winner: WBTV Staff, Charlotte

By Chris Speckman

Through their “Troubled Ten” series, reporter Dedrick Russell and the staff of WBTV News in Charlotte, N.C., demonstrated their dedication to education.

“It is unusual for a television station to have such a deep commitment to education, but we believe one of the most important issues facing our viewers is their children’s education,” said WBTV in its letter to the judges.

Russell worked to assemble in-depth profiles of the 10 lowest-performing high schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district.

“This particular series is groundbreaking,” WBTV said. “CMS (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) had traditionally been very tight-lipped when it came to discussing problems facing the school district. But for the ‘Troubled Ten’ series, our education reporter, Dedrick Russell, was invited into each school to speak directly to each principal about their plans.”

Over the course of 10 consecutive nights, Russell traveled to West Charlotte, Garinger, West Mecklenburg, Phillip O. Berry, Waddell, Olympic, Vance, Independence, Harding and East Mecklenburg to show Charlotte viewers how principals planned on improving their high schools’ failing grades.

Just as education can be one of the most vital subjects on an evening newscast, it can also be one of the hardest to comprehend the basic comings-and-goings. Russell exhibited a knack for putting complex educational strategies into simpler terms. In one report, he used sports terms such as “game day,” “game plan” and “defensive play” to describe one school’s resurrection efforts.

“Besides these stories being very educational for our viewers, Dedrick always does a great job of being creative as well,” said WBTV. “He often makes analogies or gives examples so the viewer really understands what he’s talking about.”

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