WTHR wins Peabody Award for "Investigating the IRS" reports

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WTHR has been honored with a 2012 Peabody Award for its ground-breaking "Investigating the IRS" investigation.

The Peabody Awards, the oldest awards in broadcasting, are considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media. The Peabodys recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals.

"Investigating the IRS," a 6-month investigation produced by WTHR's 13 Investigates unit, documented IRS mismanagement resulting in billions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds. In many cases, the improper tax refunds and tax credits were sent to illegal immigrants living in other countries. The investigation was viewed online more than 14 million times and triggered IRS reforms designed to save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

Senior investigative reporter Bob Segall; producer Cyndee Hebert; photojournalists Bill Ditton, Steve Rhodes and Jacob Jennings; graphic designer Kris Burke and director Steve Wolfe produced the series of in-depth reports that aired throughout 2012.

In announcing 39 Peabody recipients Wednesday morning at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody judges wrote "WTHR's stunning investigation exposed not only how illegal immigrants were bilking billions in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service but also how the IRS had known of the scamming and failed to stop it."

Other winners of this year's Peabody Awards include ABC News, CBS 60 Minutes and HBO. In addition to WTHR, the Peabody jury honored three other local television stations for their investigative and breaking news reports. Those stations include WVIT (West Hartford, Conn.), WMGH (Denver) and KNXV (Phoenix).

The Peabodys will be formally presented at a luncheon ceremony on May 20 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Scott Pelley, anchor of "The CBS Evening News," will be this year's emcee.

Today's announcement marks the third time in seven years that the Peabody Awards have recognized WTHR and its 13 Investigates unit.  Previous awards came in 2006 for "Prescription Privacy" and "Cause for Alarm," and in 2010 for "Reality Check: Where are the Jobs?"

The full announcement can be seen here.

Complete list of winners.