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WITF’s atomic cannon story earns award from Public Media Journalists Association

WITF has been recognized by the Public Media Journalists Association with an award for a story about a Pennsylvania man who witnessed the firing of an atomic cannon in 1953.

Special Projects Editor/Morning Edition host Tim Lambert has been honored with a second place award for digital writing for a story detailing his father Tom’s experience in the military as a participant in an atomic test in 1953. It was the first and only time a nuclear device was fired from a cannon, changing the course of the Korean War and the Cold War in Europe.

Starting with his father’s account as perhaps one of the last living witnesses to the test called Grable, Lambert pieced together a comprehensive account of the event.

WITF digital producer Jeremy Long, head videographer Doug Watson and senior motion/interactive designer Tom Downing worked on the digital version of the story.

“Tim took a story that only he could tell — his Dad’s personal experience — and married it with reporting on cultural and geopolitical impacts to give readers and listeners a compelling look at a sometimes-forgotten piece of American history,” said Scott Blanchard, WITF’s director of journalism. “The digital and visual teams combined to bring the work to life in multiple ways, to really immerse people in the story.”

Awards are presented in five divisions representing public media organizations with as few as one to more than 30 newsroom employees.

“This year, we had over 1,450 entries from 144 different organizations in our awards contest,” said PMJA Executive Director Christine Paige Diers. “We’re proud to be able to recognize the great journalism across the country through this contest.”

In addition to the annual awards, PMJA presented this year’s Leo C. Lee Award to Alisa Barba of America Amplified. The Leo C. Lee Award recognizes lasting commitment to public radio journalism and is awarded each year to an organization or individual that embodies that commitment. PMJA also recognized this year’s Editor of the Year, Rachel Osier Lindley, senior editor of The Texas Newsroom – a collaboration among Texas public radio stations and NPR.

PMJA membership includes over 130 local public radio newsrooms across the country. PMJA’ programs provide professional development, career support and networking opportunities to the over 1,800 journalists working at its member stations.

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