NEW YORK (WVUE) - The Radio Television Digital News Association honored WVUE/FOX 8 with 11 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. RTDNA made the announcement Tuesday morning.
FOX 8 won the prestigious Overall Excellence Award. In 2016 the station embodied watchdog journalism and public service through engaging and innovative storytelling. The station represented investigative focus, in-depth reporting and deep, heartfelt connection to the community.
FOX 8 won the Breaking News category for its coverage of a string of southeastern Louisiana tornadoes on Feb. 23, 2016 that spanned from the hours of warnings leading up to the storms, through the landfall and rescues that followed, to the impact on the communities devastated by the twisters.
Lee Zurik's "Medical Waste" series won for Continuing Coverage, Investigative Reporting and News Series. The groundbreaking investigation exposed a widespread, yet secretive, insurance industry practice bilking consumers many times as they fill a prescription. "Medical Waste" began as a local investigation, but quickly grew national in scope as Zurik revealed some of the nation's largest health insurance providers - United Healthcare, Cigna Health, Humana - sometimes charge their customers a hidden premium for much-needed medications.
Dave McNamara earned the Excellence in Video award for "Deadwood," part of his Heart of Louisiana series. The players in this game have a real look of the Wild West from their hats to their boots. They holster their six-shot revolvers, and they can handle a Winchester rifle or a shotgun. Their aim is to be faster and more accurate than the next guy or gal - that's the only way you win.
RTDNA awarded John Snell for Excellence in Writing. Snell's "Coast in Crisis" series looked at the ongoing fight to save Louisiana's disappearing coastal defenses. His series of stories looked at the challenges, successes and defeats in this important battle.
Nancy Parker won the Feature Reporting award for her story about the hundreds of drug addicts who give birth to babies in Louisiana every year. "Born Addicted," showed how many of the children rely on the kindness of strangers for their future. A North Shore man read an ad in the paper after Katrina about the need for foster parents, and the phone call he made led to a life of joy he never imagined.
The "On Your Dime" series won for News Documentary. A true enterprising investigative documentary. None of the stories was generated via a tip, but instead by proactive and dogged investigating by the WVUE-TV team. Our investigative team's extensive research drove "On Your Dime" and uncovered questionable activity and spending by officials. "On Your Dime" launched investigations by several agencies. The first story in our series launched an overnight investigation by the Governor's Office and forced a powerful tax commissioner to resign. The next story focused on a small New Orleans-based production company earning millions in state film tax credits. The third segment of "On Your Dime" exposed potential double-dipping by a deputy chief of police - double dipping that included stints as a bodyguard for Paul McCartney.
Sean Fazende won Sports reporting for a both heart-wrenching and heartwarming story about Jamie Napolitano, a 40-year-old mother of two and a professor at Southeastern University. She's also a marathon runner in the best shape of her life, but it took a heartbreaking tragedy to put her on this path. For years, she battled a heart disease that finally made even taking breaths difficult. Five hundred miles away, another family was battling a mental disorder with their son, which eventually led to his suicide. But as the Burleson family dealt with their tragedy, they made one selfless decision that would forever change their lives and the life of Jamie, who got the new heart she needed to survive. The bond that existed between the two families led first to an initial meeting, then a relationship that will last a lifetime.
Fox8live.com also won a Regional Murrow for the website.
The only large market station to win more regional awards in 2017 was KUSA-TV in Denver. FOX 8's sister station in Baton Rouge tied with three other stations in small markets, winning nine awards.
Winning a regional award automatically qualifies you for the national awards.
The national awards are presented at the RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on Oct. 9.