Seattle, WA – The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced that the KING 5 Investigators won two Sigma Delta Chi Awards for investigative reporting and public service in television journalism. KING 5 is the only large market station in the nation to win multiple 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Awards.
KING 5’s 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Awards:
Investigative Reporting - Large Market Station
"Their Crime, Your Dime"
Chris Ingalls, Kellie Cheadle, Steve Douglas
Public Service in Television Journalism - Large Market Station
"Waste on the Water"
Susannah Frame, Kellie Cheadle, Steve Douglas, Doug Burgess
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 Public Service in Television Journalism award recognizes a television news organization that renders public service through extensive coverage of an issue facing the community it serves. 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. The state and ferry unions struck a deal to cut out some of the lucrative perks ferry workers have had for decades.
Five years ago, Frame and Cheadle won a 2005 Sigma Delta Chi Award for their “Trouble on the Tarmac” series which exposed safety and security issues at Alaska Airlines.
Judges chose the winners from over 1,400 entries published or broadcast in 2010 in categories covering print, radio, television and online. Sigma Delta Chi judging criteria include: enterprise, interest, clarity and style, and resourcefulness of the reporter in overcoming obstacles. Winners will be honored at the Excellence in Journalism conference on September 24th, 2011, at the Sheraton in New Orleans.
The SPJ’s mission is to promote the free flow of information, foster excellence and diversity in journalism, and to be vigilant in protecting First Amendment freedom of speech and press.
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.