WTHR Senior Investigative Reporter
Bob Segall is senior investigative reporter at WTHR-TV. His investigations are intensely local and their impact is often felt nationwide. Bob combines dogged research, computer-assisted reporting and creative storytelling to produce memorable investigative reports that trigger change.
Bob joined WTHR's 13 Investigates team in 2006, and he quickly exposed safety and security threats that prompted dramatic local and national results. Broadcasting & Cable magazine reported WTHR may have found the "best investigative reporter in America" after his first two investigative projects in Indianapolis were awarded a prestigious Peabody Award. (B&C 4/9/07)
Over the past decade, Bob's investigations have earned four separate Peabodys, including a 2012 award for Investigating the IRS and a 2010 award for Where are the Jobs? The ongoing series about Indiana's misleading employment statistics was also honored with a national Emmy award for investigative reporting, an Edward R. Murrow Award and a 2011 duPont-Columbia Award. Columbia University cited Bob's work as "dogged reporting that exposed government fraud and prompted reform." The duPont-Columbia Award is the electronic news media's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize and considered one the highest honors in broadcast journalism.
Bob's in-depth reports focus on topics ranging from education, healthcare and technology to transportation, the environment and government spending. (See more details of Bob's investigations below.)
Before coming to WTHR, Bob was an investigative reporter at WITI-TV in Milwaukee. He led WITI to its first Peabody Award with The Bully Project, a year-long series of investigative reports that spawned a documentary, a public service campaign and a new state law benefiting hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin children. His investigations significantly impacted local and state policy, earning him the title of Milwaukee's "Best TV Investigative Reporter" from Milwaukee magazine. Prior to his role as investigative reporter, Bob was a general assignment reporter at WITI. He also worked as a reporter at WJRT-TV in Flint, WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids and WGEM-TV in Quincy.
In addition to earning duPont-Columbia and Peabody awards, Bob's reporting has been honored with more than two dozen regional Emmys, as well as two national Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Public Service in Journalism, multiple National Headliner Awards and IRE Awards for investigative and environmental reporting, a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award and a National Healthcare Journalism Award. His projects have also been recognized with top honors from the Indiana Associated Press and Indiana Society of Professional Journalists, and Ball State University honored Bob with its 2011 Indiana Journalism Award.
Bob's most memorable award is his very first Emmy, which he won in 1997 while teaming up with his identical twin brother, Rick, for a feature story on the International Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Named a 2007 Ethics Fellow by the Poynter Institute, Bob is a frequent speaker at conferences, workshops and universities, discussing the craft, impact and ethics of investigative journalism. He is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a 1993 graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
When he's not investigating, chances are you'll find Bob coaching on a local ball field or basketball court. He coaches soccer at United Soccer Alliance of Indiana, basketball at Indy Parks Thatcher Family Center, and baseball and softball at Eagle Creek Little League. Bob volunteers as a member of ECLL's executive board of directors.
You can contact Bob via email or 317-655-5768.
Bob's first investigative series for WTHR showed massive problems with central Indiana's tornado siren system. Cause for Alarm documented hundreds of outdated, broken and ineffective sirens and prompted Indiana communities to invest more than $7 million in new warning equipment. The 1996 project also spawned a community-wide public service campaign to provide tens of thousands of discounted weather radios to better protect Hoosier families from severe weather.
Two months later, Prescription Privacy revealed drug stores around Indiana and the nation were jeopardizing millions of patients' privacy by improperly disposing of their private healthcare records. The US Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights used WTHR's Prescription Privacy investigation to reach a $2.25 million settlement against CVS Pharmacies, one of the largest settlements in US history for a company accused of failing to protect patient privacy. In response to WTHR's investigation, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, the nation's three largest pharmacy chains, announced significant changes to their trash disposal policies that help ensure patient privacy for millions of customers at nearly 20,000 drug stores nationwide.
In 2007, Deadly Delay exposed what Indiana's State Fire Marshal called "the most important life safety issue the fire service will face in our lifetime." The 12-part investigation revealed hundreds of millions of smoke alarms in American homes may not activate during the most deadly type of house fire, resulting in needless deaths nationwide. With the help of university researchers and five separate fire departments, WTHR conducted a 4-month series of tests that disputed the findings of the nation's foremost fire testing agencies and prompted fire departments around Indiana and the United States to change their policies and recommendations regarding smoke alarms. Using WTHR's investigation as evidence on Capitol Hill, Rep. Baron Hill and other members of Congress passed legislation requiring the Consumer Product Safety Commission to better educate Americans about the life-threatening differences between various types of smoke alarms.
In 2008, Broken Buses showed serious and widespread safety violations involving hundreds of school buses used to transport 20,000 children to Indianapolis-area schools. WTHR then expanded the investigation, revealing critical safety problems affecting thousands of buses in school districts all across Indiana. Indiana State Police responded by conducting surprise school bus inspections, ordering faulty buses off the road and issuing penalties against the state's largest independent school bus contractor. The superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools called Broken Buses "a godsend" for exposing poor maintenance and inspection practices that put thousands of children at risk daily and for triggering immediate action that improved school bus safety throughout Indiana.
In 2009, as Indiana faced a serious budget crisis, State of Your Money exposed millions of dollars of questionable government spending including high-priced office furniture; thousands of potato chip clips, golf ball markers and rain ponchos to promote state programs; and state employees booking hotel stays at luxury resorts. The series followed Bob's All Night Long investigation, which showed lights burning round-the-clock inside the state's largest office buildings. The government watchdog reports triggered an investigation by the Indiana State Inspector General and a new spending review committee established by the governor's office which, so far, have saved Hoosier taxpayers millions of dollars.
In 2010, Where are the jobs? exposed how state leaders inflated Indiana's official job statistics through a quasi-state agency shrouded in secrecy. WTHR discovered abandoned factories and empty cornfields where state officials claimed there were thousands of new jobs. WTHR's investigation resulted in significant reforms, heightened transparency and a statewide dialogue that finally prompted state leaders to release Indiana's real job numbers.
In 2011, Hot Trucks revealed a dirty and dangerous secret involving food transported to Indiana restaurants and grocery stores. With the help of Indiana State Police, 13 Investigates showed how many commercial food trucks violate state and federal safety laws by transporting meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, vegetables and other perishable food items in unsanitary conditions and at unsafe temperatures. The investigation resulted in a new state law that provides more access and authority for state investigators and increased penalties for violators.
In 2012, WTHR exposed fraud, confusion and government mismanagement that resulted in undocumented workers getting billions of dollars in improper tax credits and refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. Investigating the IRS revealed the IRS had known about the widespread problems for a decade but failed to act, and that IRS managers actively encouraged their tax examiners to ignore blatant signs of fraud. WTHR's investigation quickly gained national attention, attracted more than 14 million online views, sparked intense debate and action by Congress, and triggered immediate reforms by the IRS designed to reduce fraud and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
Among other notable projects: Indiana added thousands of violent criminals to its statewide offender registry after Bob's Criminal Next Door series showed thousands of violent offenders had been released by other state prisons into Indiana communities, where they received little supervision; his in-depth Flagging the Food and Food For Thought investigations triggered a comprehensive clean-up of mouse feces and other problems discovered at Lucas Oil Stadium and prompted the Marion County Health Department to implement an online restaurant inspection database that, for the first time, gave Hoosiers instant access to thousands of critical food safety violations found annually at restaurants; and Tapping Your Cell Phone was one of YouTube's most watched investigative news reports of 2009, drawing more than 5 million worldwide viewers who learned that cell phones are vulnerable to undetectable spying.