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|KNOE receives coveted Alfred I. duPont Award|
Representatives from KNOE TV8 news traveled to Columbia University this week to accept the Alfred I. duPont award for excellence in broadcast journalism.
It is the first time TV8 news received the honor.
"Actually, very few stations in the country have won this award," said Taylor Henry, news director at TV8.
"Columbia University refers to it as broadcasting's Pulitzer Prize, which Columbia also administers," Henry said. "It's easily the most prestigious award in broadcast journalism."
TV8 news joined such organizations as CBS News and NBC News this year in accepting an Alfred I. duPont award, which was given to 13 news groups throughout the country.
TV8 news won for its four-part series called, "Names, Ranks and Serial Plunder: The National Guard and Katrina."
The series involved a four-month investigation that was first aired on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in New Orleans. The report dealt with a local National Guard unit. Some members of the unit were court-martialed and fined for looting while on duty protecting the city of New Orleans.
TV8 news learned that some senior National Guard officials were disciplined and allowed to resign. None of this was made public until TV8 news brought broadcast its report.
As a result of the series, the Pentagon reviewed the cases involving the local unit and eventually reorganized the Louisiana National Guard.
Several months passed after TV8 submitted its piece for consideration. Henry said he assumed the news department at TV8 didn't win. When a woman called from Columbia University about the duPont awards, he figured she wanted TV8 news to be judges in the contest.
"But she said we won, and I was just thrilled," Henry said. "It took a while to sink in, but I just started thinking, 'Wow. What an honor.'"
"It makes me proud for everyone who touched that series, and for all who work here," Henry continued. "But, it's very humbling … only 13 out of 500 entries won and some of the winners were 60 Minutes and Dateline NBC.
"We're the 75th smallest market in the nation and the next one up from us (that won the award) was St. Louis, the 21st (smallest). So it's humbling to look around and see the company we're in, but it's also a source of pride in our achievement.
"I've been in this business since the 1970s and it's like the ultimate validation," Henry said.
Also accepting the award with Henry was Jennifer Townley, Tom Cole, John Denison, Richard Sommers, Jack Dietel, Ed Rowan, Michael Tuberville, Jerry Hester and former KNOE general manager Roy Frostenson.
PBS will premier a documentary about the winners, called "Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism."
The documentary will air Jan. 28.