WTHR wins more prestigious honors for state jobs investigation

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INDIANAPOLIS - WTHR continues to be recognized for its year-long investigation of Indiana jobs, earning 13 Investigates the most prestigious local, state, and national honors presented in the field of broadcast journalism.

In recent weeks, WTHR has received a Peabody Award, an IRE Award, two Edward R. Murrow regional awards, and top investigative reporting honors from the Indiana Associated Press, Better Government Association and Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists – all for 13 Investigates' in-depth reports exposing how state leaders inflated Indiana job statistics through a quasi-state agency shrouded in secrecy. Earlier this year, the investigation also won a 2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, which is the electronic news media's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize and considered one of the highest honors in broadcast journalism.

"Reality check: Where are the jobs?" revealed empty cornfields and abandoned factories where the Indiana Economic Development Corporation claimed there were thousands of new jobs. Despite elaborate ribbon cutting ceremonies and hundreds of press releases from the state touting new jobs for Hoosiers, WTHR's investigation showed Indiana's job numbers did not add up and tens of thousands of promised jobs never materialized.

The investigation prompted IEDC to acknowledge inaccurate job totals, to revise its reporting process, to provide more job data on its public website and to publish an annual report reflecting adjusted job numbers. The issues raised by WTHR fueled headlines and editorials across the state and, for the first time, began to lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding Indiana's real job numbers.

Investigative reporter Bob Segall, producer Cyndee Hebert and photojournalist Bill Ditton began working on the project in May 2009. The first part of the investigation aired in March 2010, so far resulting in nine separate reports.

As part of its DuPont-Columbia Award announcement, Columbia University cited WTHR's investigation as "dogged reporting that exposed government fraud and prompted reform" and called the series "an example of outstanding reporting in the public service. Investigative Reporters and Editors, the nation's oldest and most-respected investigative reporting organization, called the investigation "shoe-leather reporting at its best."

WTHR and twelve other recipients of the 2011 duPont-Columbia Award received silver batons in January at a ceremony in New York City. Each baton is inscribed with the famous observation about the power of television by the late Edward R. Murrow:

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box." (Address to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Chicago, October 15, 1958.)

Ditton accepted the Better Government Association's Richard H. Driehaus Investigative Award today at a ceremony in Chicago. The award recognizes the best in government-related investigative reporting from across the Midwest region, highlighting the impact of investigative reports as a reform tool within the context of state and local government waste, fraud and corruption.

The Peabody Awards, among the oldest and most coveted honors in electronic media, recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious public service through TV, radio and the internet. WTHR will receive its Peabody statue later this month in New York.

IRE will present its awards in June in Orlando.