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Overall Excellence Entry: 2014 WITF

Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Feb 8, 2015 6:09 AM

2014 was a historic year in Pennsylvania. Same sex marriage was legalized and a sitting governor lost a bid for a second term for the first time in history. With each development, WITF worked to provide the proper context to its listeners. We devoted resources to finding under-the-radar stories, like how Pennsylvania cities handle homeless encampments, as well as the twists and turns of the Marcellus shale natural gas drilling boom. One of our reporters traveled to France, to tell the story of how the graves of American soldiers (with a focus on one Pennsylvanian in particular) are cared for by strangers -- 70 years after the Battle of Normandy. WITF delved into the changing healthcare landscape, a rise in heroin overdoses and how a struggling city embraced its own "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree." We also made sure to find unique, lighter stories to enterain and inform our audience, such as the woman who sets up on the sidewalk and types "insta-poems" for people, along with what happens to the all the...uh...animal waste at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.  2014 also was the year WITF began to ramp up efforts to provide more data-driven stories and explainers, while working to improve its online presentation of some stories.

"The following stories have been edited.*

Track 1

Election 2014: WITF covered the gubernatorial race from the Democratic primary to the incumbent governor's defeat at the hands of a political unknown. WITF state Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson recaps the first gubernatorial debate between Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Democrat Tom Wolf and profiles both Wolf and Corbett in the run-up to election day. It also includes portions of our live election night coverage.


Track 2:

Grave 43: Remembering Pony: October 5th was the 70th anniversary of when a Beaver Falls, PA, woman learned one of her older brothers died fighting in World War II. Irene Vigosky never had a  desire to visited his overseas grave, but always wondered why her father allowed her brother's body to remain in France. WITF's Tim Lambert talks with her and then travels to Normandy to visit the grave site of Staff Sergeant Eugene Vigosky.


Track 3:

The future of the York City School District:  The Pennsylvania Department of Education filed a petition for a receivership of York City School District with the York County Court of Common Pleas. Essentially, the state would take over the district. If Judge Stephen Linebaugh rules in the state's favor, the district could be Commonwealth’s first to be forced to go to an all-charter school system and among just a few nationally to undergo the process on a wide scale. In this excerpt, WITF's Keystone Crossroads reporter Emily Previti details the issues that led to this point, ahead of the judge's decision.



Track 4:

The impact of the Marcellus Shale gas boom: The natural gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania turned 10-years-old in 2014. Our StateImpact Pennsylvania project brought the stories of those affected to our listeners, as well as how policy decisions played out in many rural communities. StateImpact Pennsylvania's Marie Cusick details how the state’s surge in natural gas development is having dramatic effects on its forests, the court case of an anti-fracking activist who was barred from setting foot on more than 300 square miles of Susquehanna County, and  how some gas companies have been blocking people from accessing public roads and forests.



Track 5:

Heroin and Narcan: 2014 saw a surge in heroin overdoses in WITF's coverage area.  Across the midstate, the commonwealth and Northeast, hundreds of people have died of heroin overdoses in the past year. But now, Pennsylvania police officers can carry a life-saving drug commonly known by its brand name – Narcan. WITF's Ben Allen looks at why  many are warning it's just a first step .



Track 6:

Transforming Health: The healthcare landscape is changing in ways that go beyond the Affordable Care Act. WITF's Ben Allen looks at the sudden increase in the cost of generic prescription drugs, physicians assitants could help ease the health care provider shortage, and who is providing care to rural, medically underserved areas



Track 7:

Same sex marriage: 2014 saw same sex marriage legalized in Pennsylvania. But, it also featured the case of a United Methodist Church pastor who was defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex marries. WITF's Smart Talk host Scott LaMar talked with Lebanon County minister Frank Schaefer about his ordeal. When same sex marriage was legalized, WITF's Ben Allen asked Julie Lowery of Mechanicsburg a simple question: "How does it feel to be able to get married?" In the wake of the ruling, Smart Talk heard from Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, who critized the ruling. A few weeks later, Scott spoke with the judge who issued the ruling, Judge John Jones III of the U.S. Middle District Court in Pennsylvania.



Track 8:

Cities and Homeless Encampments: The nation’s homeless population is trending downward, but Pennsylvania’s has been rising for three of the past four years, including last year. Keystone Crossroads’ Emily Previti reported on how the Commonwealth's distressed cities are taking different approaches to this issue.



Track 9:

Reading's Charlie Brown Christmas Tree:  Reading, Pennsylvania, is one of the poorest cities in the country. So when a shabby-looking, 50-foot Christmas tree went up in the middle of the city's downtown around Thanksgiving, many saw it as a metaphor for the city's troubles. WITF's Ben Allen reports.



Track 10:

Farm Show Files: In the Deep End: The Pennsylvania Farm Show is billed as the largest indoor agricutlure exposition in the world. With all those animals under one roof, it also has a particular smell. WITF's Mary Wilson explores what happens to all the...uh...animal excrement.



Track 11:

A Table. A Typewriter. A Way of Life:  Name a price. Pick a subject. Get a poem. Abi Mott's business model is simple. She types poems for people on the street. WITF Arts and Culture reporter Joe Ulrich visits her small table to watch her work.



Track 12:

Shane Speal makes and plays cigar box guitars. WITF Arts and Culture reporter Joe Ulrich profiles Speal's new band and and new funding from a record label to produce Holler!



Track 13:

Election 2014 Wrap-Up:  WITF's Tim Lambert anchors the morning regional and state newscast after election day. It features a recap of all the major races, including Governor Corbett's historic loss to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, wins by every incumbent congressman, and gains made by the GOP in the state legislature.



WITF's homepage

WITF's news page

WITF's State House Sound Bites page

WITF's Smart Talk page

WITF's weather page

WITF's Election 2014 page

Grave 43: Remembering Pony -- multimedia presentation

WITF's Arts and Culture page 

A Table, A Typewriter, A Way of Life

An example of an explainer story

An example of a data-driven story

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