NPR stations won 82 large-market regional Murrow Awards, while small-market pubcasters captured 91. Among all stations, WLRN in Miami topped public radio’s regional winners by taking 11 awards in 13 Murrow categories: overall excellence, breaking news, continuing coverage, feature reporting, investigative reporting, news documentary, new series, hard-news reporting, use of sound, writing and website. “We feel thrilled and humbled by the honor,” said Dan Grech, news director. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team.”
Four additional large-market pubcasters each won six Murrows: KQED in San Francisco, WBEZ in Chicago, KUT in Austin and WBUR in Boston. And four large-market stations each won four Murrows: KUOW in Seattle; St.
NPR and Miami’s WLRN are collaborating to boost coverage of Latin America, with NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro assigned to a new foreign desk in São Paulo. In addition to Garcia-Navarro, the team of journalists includes Tim Padgett, a longtime reporter on Latin America and the Caribbean who previously wrote for Time and Newsweek and recently joined WLRN. Padgett’s primary task will be to coordinate coverage from Miami. Four reporters on the staff of the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language publication, El Nuevo Herald, will also contribute. WLRN and the Herald have collaborated on news coverage for a decade.
A dispute over state funding of Florida pubcasters has prompted Miami’s WLRN to create a new system for sharing news stories among pubradio stations. Eight stations serving the state’s largest markets have signed onto the Florida News Exchange, a digital network for content sharing that the Miami station launched in September. It’s modeled after the Northwest News Network, a reporting collaborative of stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Its formation is a direct challenge to the Florida Public Radio Network operated by WFSU in Tallahassee, the state capital — the only Florida pubcaster to be spared from a complete loss of state funding this year. So far the Miami station is the only one to drop its use of that news service, which charges an annual fee of nothing.
WLRN Radio and the Miami Herald have been collaborating on multiplatform news production for eight years, but the investigative-reporting package that they published this month, “Neglected to Death,” took their partnership to a new level. The package of radio reports by WLRN’s Kenny Malone and articles by Herald reporters grew out of a year-long computer-assisted reporting project that revealed systemic failings in the regulation of Florida’s assisted-living facilities. Over several months, Malone followed up on the Herald investigative team’s findings of incidents of negligence and abuse to produce two character-driven radio features, the first of which aired locally and on NPR’s Morning Edition. Malone’s first piece focused on the case of Aurora Navas, an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient and facility resident who wandered outdoors one night without supervision and drowned in 18 inches of water. It was one of many accidental deaths for which Florida regulators failed to probe or prosecute.
Nonprofit fundraising arms of the state-owned network in West Virginia and the school-board-operated stations in Miami are under fire as public officials scrutinize longstanding financial relationships that underpin their operations. West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Miami’s WLRN-FM/TV, like many other public radio and TV operations owned by state and local governments, rely on sister nonprofits, often called Friends groups, to raise as much as 40 percent of their annual budgets. These private 501(c)(3) nonprofits around the country differ in many details but typically have separate governing boards and sometimes their own staffs.
A major reason for their existence is also cause for the complaints: They give pubcasters more flexibility and speed in purchasing and contracting than government procedures usually permit and they can pay for programming or other mission-related activities that the stations couldn’t otherwise afford. Friends of WLRN, for example, was able to contribute funding to continue the station’s editorial partnership with the Miami Herald when the newspaper’s new owners were cutting costs in 2008, according to Janet Altman, chair of the friends group.