WITF honored with two National Edward R. Murrow Awards

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Jun 21, 2016 12:25 PM

(Undated) -- For the fourth time since 2009, WITF has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association's (RTDNA) with multiple National Edward R. Murrow Awards.

RTDNA has announced WITF's Ben Allen and Joe Ulrich will receive National Murrows in the Hard News Feature and the Best Use of Sound categories.

The central Pennsylvania public media organization competed against radio stations in markets 51 and smaller. The two National Murrows gave WITF the most among radio stations in its market size and tied it with WLRN-FM in Miami, WBUR-FM in Boston and WAMU-FM in Washington, DC, for most among radio stations overall. Find the complete list of winners here.

"Today's announcement of two more national Edward R. Murrow Awards is a tribute both to the individuals honored and to the WITF news team as a whole, which has now received 12 such awards since 2007," said Kathleen Pavelko, WITF's President & CEO. "WITF is committed to its mission to provide high quality, contextual journalism to the citizens of our region and beyond."

This year, the 45th anniversary of the awards, RTDNA is presenting 103 national Edward R. Murrow Awards in 13 categories including Newscast, Investigative Reporting, Overall Excellence and more. RTDNA received more than 4,300 entries during the 2016 awards season, setting an all-time record for the fourth year in a row.

"Our judges tell us the work they reviewed this year is some of the best ever," said RTDNA Chair Kathy Walker. "Our winners have clearly demonstrated how their commitment to outstanding journalism serves their communities, states and the nation."

WITF's award-winning stories couldn't be more different.

Allen spent much of the past 18 months chronicling the impact of the heroin epidemic in central Pennsylvania, as part of the series, "Real Life | Real Issues: Drugs and Young People." His profile of the family of Anthony Perez, who died of a heroin overdose at age 23, was honored in the Hard News Feature category. It was Allen's first National Murrow.


Photo by Stacy Emminger

"I'm tremendously honored to have one of my stories selected for this award. I hope this helps raise awareness about the health crisis of a generation even just the slightest bit," Allen said. "I appreciate all the support from the leadership at WITF, from Multimedia News Director Tim Lambert to Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer Cara Williams Fry and up to President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko. I plan to continue to tell these stories, in the hopes that solutions to this crisis can be developed sooner rather than later."

The other Murrow award-winning story showcased creative writing and audio production. WITF's Joe Ulrich found a little levity after traveling to Dushore, Sullivan County to see the community's outhouse races first-hand and ended up with a truly memorable multimedia story. It was honored Best Use of Sound categories, giving Ulrich is first National Murrow.


Photo by Joe Ulrich/WITF

"The honor of receiving a Murrow is icing on the cake for what was such a fun piece to do. Painting a picture with audio is challenging and this particular piece took many hours of editing and critiquing," Ulrich said. "I had the help of some other great ears in our news department who provided feedback and suggestions."

WITF's competed with entries from 13 regions nationwide. The national awards will be presented in October at the RTDNA Awards Dinner in New York. RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism.

"In-depth, factual stories blended with creativity and sensitivity are a benchmark of the WITF news team. Ben's Real Life l Real Issues story about a young man who died of a heroin overdose shows the person behind the story and Joe's piece on Outhouse Races is just pure fun creativity," said WITF's Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer Cara Williams Fry. "I am very proud to work with such a diverse newsteam which can consistently produce diverse stories."

WITF's 12 National Murrows since 2007 are the most of any Pennsylvania public media organization over that span.The 2016 awards are the station's fourth in the Hard News Feature category and first in the Best Use of Audio category.

"Our goal is provide the best public service possible, whether it is shining a spotlight on a serious issue, like opioid addiction, or just telling a story unique to a particular community, like the Outhouse Races in Dushore," said Tim Lambert, WITF's Multimedia News Director. "It is a tremendous honor to have our work receive such recognition from our peers across the country. I'm just so proud of Joe and Ben for their efforts."

Here are the previous National Murrows WITF has garnered since 2007:

For the third year in a row, ABC News Radio and ABC News (television) both won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence at the network level. ABC's radio team also won awards for Breaking News and Hard News. ABC's television team won for Breaking News, Series, Use of Video and Website.

In the network television division, HBO won a Murrow in the Documentary category for its Oscar-winning feature Citizenfour. ESPN took home three Murrow Awards for Investigative Reporting, Feature Reporting and Sports Reporting. CBS News won for Hard News and Writing, and NBC News won for Newscast and Continuing Coverage.

In the network radio division, National Public Radio took home awards for Investigative Reporting, Series and Writing. This American Life won for Continuing Coverage (with WBEZ) and Documentary. CBS Radio News won for Newscast. ESPN won for Feature Reporting, and KQED and the Food & Environment Reporting Network won for Use of Sound.

The Washington Post won the Overall Excellence Award in the large online news organization division as well as awards for Writing and Continuing Coverage. The New York Times won for Breaking News, Series (Video) and Use of Video. Yahoo News won in the Documentary category, The Seattle Times won for Hard News, The Guardian (US) won a Murrow for Investigative Reporting, The Denver Post was a winner for Sports Reporting, The Detroit Free Press won for Feature Reporting, The Star Tribune from Minnesota won for Website (Video), The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel won for Website (Audio) and National Public Radio and ProPublica won for Series (Audio).

In the Small Online News Organization division, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting took home a remarkable quintuple win by taking awards for Overall Excellence, Continuing Coverage, Feature Reporting, Documentary, and Website. In Large Market Television, WXIA-WATL-TV in Atlanta scored a triple win for Continuing Coverage, Investigative Reporting and Writing. In Small Market Television, WVUE-TV in New Orleans had a double win for Series and Use of Video. In Small Market Radio, WITF-FM in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania had a double win for for Hard News and Use of Sound. And in the Large Market Radio division, three stations had double wins: WLRN-FM in Miami, WBUR-FM in Boston and WAMU-FM in Washington, DC.

"We present the Murrow Awards not only to recognize outstanding journalism, but to inspire radio, television and digital newsrooms across the country," said RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender. "Journalists can learn from each other and push each other to find new and better ways to serve their communities."

Murrow awards are presented at the regional and national level. WITF received six regional Murrow awards this year, which acknowledged work of the highest quality produced by radio, television and online news organizations in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Since 2006, WITF has received 49 RTDNA Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards -- the most of any media organization in Pennsylvania. In the last six years, WITF has garnered 37 Regional Murrows -- a number that is among the top stations in the country in Markets 51 and smaller.

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