Three local TV stations have won prestigious Peabody Awards for the kind of in-depth reporting many stations no longer seem to value. In an era of budget cuts and layoffs, WWL in New Orleans, KMGH in Denver and KLAS in Las Vegas devoted substantial time to covering significant local stories and they deserve credit for doing it.
WWL was cited for uncovering possible corruption and mismanagement by a city agency; KMGH was honored for a year-long investigation into the failure of county social welfare agencies to protect children; and KLAS won for an in-depth report on city efforts to tap into rural groundwater.
These stories weren’t easy to tell on TV and they weren’t quick turns. That sets them apart from a lot of what masquerades as “investigative” reporting on local TV news these days, as noted in this AJR column.
Consultant Tom Dolan disputes my conclusion that I-Teams doing serious stories are becoming endangered. He’s a proponent of what he calls “topical investigations” and says many of his clients are not backing off from investigative reporting.
Fair enough. I stand by my view that some stories promoted as “investigative” really aren’t, but that’s not to suggest that local TV stations aren’t doing any good work. Thankfully, the winning Peabody entries prove otherwise.