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witf receives its first-ever Silver Baton from duPont-Columbia for Excellence in Multimedia Reporting on Natural Gas Drilling

Written by witf | Dec 19, 2012 10:43 AM
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witf, central Pennsylvania’s Public Media Center, has received one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for broadcast reporting, the duPont-Columbia Silver Baton. The award was announced by CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour at the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards Center today. The award will be presented at Columbia University’s Low Library on January 22, 2013 at an event hosted by Amanpour and Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent for the CBS Evening News. The duPonts are the Pulitzers of broadcasting and digital journalism (also awarded by Columbia University). The winning stories are selected for the “strength of their reporting, storytelling and impact in the public interest.”

The Silver Baton was awarded to witf/Harrisburg, WHYY/Philadelphia and NPR for their joint reporting project called StateImpact Pennsylvania. The citation notes that StateImpact Pennsylvania “showed the significant impact of natural gas drilling on Pennsylvania residents, and is an important model for reporting on local issues. Reporters Susan Phillips (WHYY) and Scott Detrow (witf) covered the public policy, fiscal and environmental impact of the state’s booming energy economy, with a focus on Marcellus Shale drilling.”

The Silver Baton, the first in witf’s history, is the third major national award for witf in 2012. The central Pennsylvania Public Media Center also received two Edward R. Murrow Awards from RTDNA (Radio-Television Digital News Association) for reporting on cancer in the Facing Cancer Together project and for a “Hope and Handball” feature on witf 89.5. “It’s been an extraordinary year for witf’s journalists and, by extension, for our listeners, viewers and readers,” said Kathleen Pavelko, witf’s President and CEO. “I could not be prouder of our entire team in earning these recognitions, unique in witf’s history.”

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The Silver Baton-winning reports were heard on public radio stations across Pennsylvania and on a dedicated web site featuring multimedia, data-driven stories. The StateImpact Pennsylvania reports revealed previously unreported aspects of a new gas drilling law, including a provision that would require health professionals to sign confidentiality agreements in order to get access to chemical exposure information and developments in the state’s efforts to establish a natural gas impact fee.

"It's a tremendous honor and we're proud to see the hard work of Scott, Susan and the entire StateImpact Pennsylvania team recognized on a national level,” said Tim Lambert, witf’s Multimedia News Director and StateImpact Pennsylvania project manager. “In less than two years, StateImpact Pennsylvania has established itself as a go-to resource for people following the state's energy boom. This type of data-driven, multimedia approach is unique to our region and sets a journalistic standard that witf strives to reach in all of our work."

Scott Detrow, witf’s reporter/producer/photographer, said “I'm honored by this award. But it wouldn't have happened without the resources--and more importantly the time--that witf, WHYY and NPR gave Susan and me to report on these important stories that are changing Pennsylvania's landscape.”

The journalistic team recognized with the award included: Susan Phillips (WHYY) and Scott Detrow (witf), as reporters, producers, photographers; Chris Satullo (WHYY), Vikki Valentine (NPR) and Ken Rudin (NPR), as editors; Tim Lambert (witf), StateImpact Pennsylvania’s project manager/editor; Chris Amico, Danny DeBelius, Elise Hu, Matt Stiles, NPR StateImpact data/web team and Lynette Clemetson (NPR), StateImpact Director.

About the du-Post-Columbia University Awards
The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards Center, which administers the The Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Awards, is dedicated to upholding the highest standards in journalism by Honoring the best in broadcast and digital reporting, informing the public about the contributions news organizations and journalists make to their communities and to the world, supporting journalism education and innovation, and cultivating a collective spirit for the profession.

Every year about a dozen news stories are honored by the 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. Winners receive a silver baton, or a gold baton for truly outstanding reporting, which is inscribed with the famous observation about the power of television by the late Edward R. Murrow in his address to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Chicago, October 15, 1958: "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."

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