Public radio reigns in national Murrows, PRNDI announces winners, and more awards in public media

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Hawaii Public Radio won two national Murrow awards for coverage of the 2014 Pahoa lava flow. Overall, public radio took 18 of 26 small- and large-market radio awards. (Photo: Katie Gray, via Flickr)

Radio Television Digital News Association

Public radio stations dominated among winners of national Edward R. Murrow Awards.

In the small market radio category, public radio stations took 11 of 13 awards, including the award for overall excellence, which went to New Hampshire Public Radio. NHPR’s award entry featured reporting on topics including a local police officer’s death, suicides in New Hampshire’s Bhutanese community, the November 2014 elections and concussions in football.

Hawaii Public Radio won best breaking news and best writing for its coverage of the Pahoa lava flow; KBIA in Columbia, Mo., won best feature reporting for its coverage of youth in Ferguson, Mo.; and WGLT in Normal, Ill., won twice for its Police and Race series. WSHU in Fairfield, Conn., also won twice, including for its story about a saxophonist who lost his daughter in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. WNIN in Evansville, Ill.; WGCU in Fort Myers, Fla.; and WFIU/WTIU StateImpact in Bloomington, Ind., rounded out small-market award-winners.

Public radio stations also won over half the awards in the large market category. Minnesota Public Radio won for best news documentary and best website. WAMU in Washington, D.C., won best feature reporting for a story about a woman rebuilding her life after an attempted suicide. WUWM in Milwaukee won best news series; WUNC in Chapel Hill, N.C., won best investigative reporting; KUOW in Seattle won best hard news reporting; and WCPN in Cleveland won best writing.

Public media took home awards in the network radio category as well. NPR won three awards: best investigative reporting for its Delinquent Mines series, best hard news reporting for its story about the Taliban’s efforts to derail world polio eradication, and best use of sound/video for a story investigating a rumored Ebola hot spot. A State of the Re: Union episode, “Trans Families,” won best news documentary, and Serial won best news series for its first season.

Public media achieved four victories in the small online news organization category. The Texas Tribune garnered three awards, including best investigative reporting for “Hurting for Work,” which told stories of injured Texas workers suffering from the state’s limited regulations on employers. The Austin-based nonprofit also won best website (video) and best use of sound/video for “The Shale Life.” The Lens and ProPublica won best website (audio) for a joint project about Louisiana’s shrinking coastline.

Edward R. Murrow Awards have honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism since 1971. RTDNA bestowed 104 national awards in 13 categories after receiving more than 4,200 entries, setting a record high for the third consecutive year.

RTDNA also presented its 2015 Kaleidoscope Awards to programs examining diversity.

The first episode of the fifth and final season of State of the Re:Union, “Trans Families,” won the Kaleidoscope award for network radio/syndication service/program service. The episode told the stories of transgender people and their families at various moments in their lives, showing the impact of transitioning for both transgender individuals and the people closest to them.

KUOW won the in the large-market radio category for Two Indias: Near and Far. Liz Jones reported the series, traveling to Hyderabad, India, to explore the city’s deepening connection to Seattle’s growing tech industry.

WGLT in Normal, Ill., won in the small-market radio category for its coverage of race issues. In the first half of 2014, the station aired “In Their Own Words,” consisting of reports by African Americans living in Bloomington and Normal. Later in the year, it presented an investigative series about race and police relationships. In total, WGLT reporters did more than 70 stories about diversity issues in 2014.

The Kaleidoscope Awards honor outstanding achievements in covering issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. Winners will be recognized September 19 at “Excellence in Journalism 2015” in Orlando.

Public Radio News Directors Inc.

WBGO led among small newsrooms in PRNDI’s competition, while the medium and large competitions were much closer.

WBGO, a Newark, N.J.-based station, took home seven awards, including best breaking news for its coverage of “Bridgegate,” best call-in program for “Newark Today” and best enterprise story for “Who’s Reading Your EZ Pass?

Two small newsrooms each took home three awards. WFUV won best writing for its story “How Sweet It Is: Riding in the Candy Cab,” as well as best newscast and best student newscast. WFIU took home awards for best multimedia presentation, best sports feature and best student spot news.

Four medium-newsroom stations won three awards each. Nashville Public Radio won best soft feature for its piece “Why Nathan Bedford Forrest Is The Civil War Officer We Still Fight About” and also took awards for best spot news and best arts feature. WVXU in Cincinnati won best breaking news for reporting on Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, best news/public affairs program and best newscast.

North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., won in the nationally edited news feature category for a story about a drone operator who engaged in warfare from close to home. The station also won best news feature and best series, both of which focused on a homeless 16-year-old. KBIA won best writing, best enterprise/investigative piece and best student hard feature for “Heartland, Missouri,” a longform story about a place in northeast Missouri where religion, law, business and morality intersect in a complicated web.

WBUR was the only large-newsroom station to win three awards. The Boston station won best call-in program for “School Desegregation Four Decades Later,” best writing for “Brutal Gang Violence Reigns In El Salvador” and best nationally edited breaking news for “Two Boston Firefighters Die In Nine-Alarm Blaze.”

In total, PRNDI handed out 130 awards to public radio newsrooms June 27 at the organization’s annual conference in Salt Lake City. The awards recognized excellent journalism produced in 2014 and drew over 1,100 entries from newsrooms around the country.

In a partnership with the National Endowment for Financial Education, PRNDI also presented the inaugural excellence in consumer financial reporting award to KERA in Dallas for its series “One Crisis Away.” The series examined four families living on the financial edge in North Texas, where one in three people would be unable to survive a financial emergency such as losing a job.

Global Editors Network

ProPublica’s Treatment Tracker won a 2015 Data Journalism Award.

Treatment Tracker, a news app that uses data from Medicare’s Part B program, won the award in the open data category. The app allows patients to see how frequently their doctors billed for expensive and intensive office visits and how that data compares to other providers in their specialty and state. ProPublica senior communications manager Minhee Cho was cited for the award. In a tie, the Danish newspaper Berlingske also shared the Data Journalism Award.