KING 5 has won a 2011 Peabody Award for the KING5 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.
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. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for the year 2011, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the University of Georgia Campus.
Their Crime, Your Dime is a KING 5 Investigators series that revealed Washington state s primary defense against welfare fraud was quietly whittled away by puzzling budget cuts that began years before the economic crisis struck.
Nearly 20 stories produced by the KING 5 Investigators prompted lawmakers and the governor to enact sharp revisions to the state s welfare laws. Top officials at the state s Department of Social and Health Services resigned, as the agency announced sweeping in-house reforms.
Editorials at nearly every major paper in the state were critical of the state s oversight of these massive programs. Federal agents moved in on one fraud kingpin after a story exposed her continuing criminal activity. Finally, state and federal agents stepped up their law enforcement efforts following the series of stories.