KING 5 investigation on welfare fraud wins national journalism award

KING 5 investigation on welfare fraud wins national journalism award

Credit: KING 5 TV

KING 5 investigation on welfare fraud wins national journalism award

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by KING 5

KING5.com

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

News release                      
April 4, 2012                           

Contact: Betsy Robertson

Community Relations Manager

(206)448-5555

brobertson@king5.com


George Foster Peabody Award

“Their Crime, Your Dime” Series Forced Changes in Washington State;
Federal Prison Sentences for Criminals Caught On Camera


SEATTLE— KING 5 has won a 2011 Peabody Award for the KING 5 Investigators "Their Crime, Your Dime" series, which exposed food stamp and welfare scams. It led to immediate changes at the Department of Social and Health Services and prompted the Washington state legislature to fund a $5 million fraud-prevention squad. 

The thirty-eight recipients of the 71st Annual Peabody Awards were announced Wednesday by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. This is the second Peabody for KING 5 in 22 years.

The award recognizes the work of investigative reporter Chris Ingalls, photojournalist Steve Douglas, executive producer Kellie Cheadle and executive news director Mark Ginther for the series of reports that revealed the government had been ineffective in combating growing fraud in state and federal welfare programs.

“This series showed the power of television for investigative journalism.  Viewers saw multiple examples of fraud both blatant and undercover.  They watched as some of those people caught on camera ran or tried to deny their actions.  And they watched state officials try to explain rampant fraud,” said Mark Ginther, Executive News Director, KING 5.  “This series resulted in a major overhaul at the state level that will save taxpayers millions and will get the benefits to those who really deserve them.”

The reports found the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, ignored warnings and tips about fraud.  Subsequent stories showed that Washington State’s primary defense against welfare fraud was quietly whittled away by puzzling budget cuts that began years before the economic crisis struck.

The series had swift and immediate impact. The social services secretary admitted for the first time that her anti-fraud programs were inadequate.  The head of the fraud prevention unit retired.  An assistant secretary of the department, who appeared in several of the reports, resigned.  Newspaper editorials across the state decried DSHS’s program integrity.  The state legislature approved $5 million to fund a new fraud prevention squad.  And most significant, the series prompted a new law.  The governor signed legislation closing many of the loopholes revealed in the coverage. Four people identified in the stories were arrested.  Three are already headed to federal prison.

The KING 5 Investigators join a select but wide-ranging list of winners including CNN’s coverage of the Arab Spring, the TED conferences website, PBS’s American Experiences, HBO’s Treme’ and The Colbert Report’s Super PAC Segments.   The awards ceremony is in May.

About Belo
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.

 

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