Through its relentless digging to shed light on local political corruption, WXYZ, the Scripps affiliate in Detroit, has earned the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, the television industry’s highest honor in journalism. The honor recognizes the community-changing success of “Wayne County Confidential: Government Run Amok,” WXYZ’s years-long investigative series focused on politics in Wayne County, Michigan.
Investigative journalists Heather Catallo and Ross Jones broke the story of former Wayne County Economic Development Director Turkia Mullin’s $200,000 secret severance package. Their investigations also revealed other secret severance deals, a political machine fueled with county resources and global travel for county officials funded by secret donors.
The reports by WXYZ led to an FBI investigation, a series of indictments, criminal charges, resignations, firings and stronger ethics rules.
Also honored for their work on the series were Randy Lundquist, editor, and photographers Ramon Rosario and Johnny Sartin. Ann Mullen is the executive producer of WXYZ’s investigative unit.
“We are very proud of the ongoing efforts by WXYZ to make a lasting and positive impact for the people of Detroit,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of television for Scripps. “This award-winning investigation goes right to the core of our mission to enlighten, reflect and improve communities through enterprise journalism.”
Each year, approximately a dozen news stories are singled out by the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Awards for the strength of their reporting, storytelling, and impact in the public interest. The winning pieces are selected by the duPont jury from hundreds of entries vetted by a board of screeners.
“The duPont-Columbia award recognizes the very best in broadcast journalism,” said Ed Fernandez, divisional vice president for Scripps television and WXYZ vice president and general manager. “WXYZ is honored to receive this award for upholding the highest journalism standards as we serve our community.”
The award will be presented to WXYZ on January 22, 2013 at Columbia University in New York City. The evening will feature highlights of the award-winning reporting.
The duPont-Columbia Award caps off an award-winning year for WXYZ. Honors in 2012 include:
- Station of the Year award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters
- General Excellence award from the Associated Press
- Station Excellence award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences