WTHR wins big at Indiana SPJ Awards

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The Indiana Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) honored WTHR with 15 awards at its annual ceremony Friday night.

The judges awarded the Eyewitness News team first place for Breaking News Coverage for reporting on the Plainfield tornadoes last June.

The news team also won the award for Continuing Coverage for reporting of the death of Ben Davis High School student Dominique Allen, the investigation of her murder, and the arrest of a suspect. The entire newsroom was also given second place for Best Newscast for an episode of Nightbeat the night after the Officer Renn shooting in July.

The 13 Investigates team picked up several awards. Senior reporter Bob Segall won first place for Investigative Reporting for his story about football helmets and how they rate when it comes to protection from concussions. Bob shares the award with photojournalist Bill Ditton and producers Cyndee Hebert and Susan Batt.

Investigative reporter Sandra Chapman won first place for Coverage of Government or Politics with her story about potholes in Indianapolis, how the city repairs them, and how often the city pays for damages. Photojournalists Matt Whisner and Ryan Thedwall and producers Cyndee Hebert and Susan Batt also worked on that story.

Segall and Ditton won third in the Government or Politics category.

Segall, Ditton and Batt also earned first place in Medical or Science reporting for stories about how the Veterans Administration prescribed painkillers to military veterans.

WTHR earned first place for Sports Reporting for stories done by Sports Director Dave Calabro, reporter Kevin Rader, and photojournalist Steve Rhodes. Dave traveled to Scotland for an exclusive visit with Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti, and Kevin told the story of a high school baseball player who died at age 16.

Kevin's story was so exceptional, it was also recognized with the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting. Sigma Delta Chi is the national arm of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The judges awarded WTHR top honors for coverage of minority issues for a collection of stories about people with disabilities. Credit for the work goes to anchor Scott Swan, reporters Emily Longnecker and Mary Milz, and photojournalists Matt Mrozinski and Matt Whisner. Longnecker also won second place in that category with photojournalist Russ Govert.

WTHR received second place in the Criminal Justice Reporting category for three stories about people whose lives were changed by violent crime. Anchors Andrea Morehead and Scott Swan as well as former anchor Anne Ryder covered those stories with photojournalists Matt Mrozinski and Matt Whisner.

Photojournalist John Duong picked up first place in the Feature Videography category and second place in the Sports Videography category.

Rader, Duong and Rhodes won third place for Feature Reporting, and the 13 Investigates team received third place for Environmental Reporting.

We even saw recognition among our intern ranks. Kayla Sullivan, a former WTHR intern, was recognized as the Student Journalist of the Year.