WBRZ wins prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for LSP investigation
NEW YORK CITY – The 2023 winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards have been announced, and the WBRZ Investigative Unit has been honored for its years-long investigation into the death of Ronald Greene and into misconduct by Louisiana State Police.
WBRZ Chief Investigative Reporter Chris Nakamoto and photojournalist Joe McCoy were joined by Louisiana Television LLC executive Jake Manship and WBRZ General Manager Trey Schmaltz at the ceremony held Monday evening. Erin McWilliams served as Investigative Unit producer on the award-winning series of reports but was unable to attend.
The duPont Awards are among the highest distinctions in broadcast journalism, with local television stations, network news divisions and major production companies competing for the honor. The 90-minute awards ceremony is often referred to as the “Pulitizers of broadcast."
"Tonight’s honorees are recognized for the quality of their work... this truly phenomenal journalism,” CBS Evening News anchor and Managing Editor Norah O’Donnell said as she hosted the ceremony. “But we also want to recognize the courage it took to embark on reporting these difficult stories and the doggedness to complete them.”
In November, the Columbia Journalism School announced its list of 30 finalists. Five local television stations nationwide were among the 16 award recipients.
The winning entry from WBRZ examined misconduct rising to the highest levels of law enforcement in Louisiana. It included whistleblower interviews, documentation of a cover-up and the disclosure that Louisiana State Police had “sanitized” their phones, eliminating potential evidence -- all following the death of Ronald Greene, a Black man who died after he was beaten by several troopers.
Fallout from the scandal included the resignation of two top-ranking officers at LSP. Multiple official investigations were launched, including a civil rights-focused inquiry by the United States Department of Justice, and in December, a grand jury in Union Parish indicted five law enforcement officers on felony counts related to Greene’s death.
Those officers are now awaiting trial.
“Our relentless reporting exposed extraordinary deception at Louisiana’s premier law enforcement agency," Nakamoto said. "WBRZ General Manager Trey Schmaltz and its owners, the Manship family, are committed to hard-hitting investigative journalism, providing the Investigative Unit with the support and resources to expose the cover-ups and lies. This award is a testament that the truth always prevails, even when it’s hard to find.”
The 2023 honor marks the third time that WBRZ has received a duPont Award – the most such honors of any Louisiana-based newsroom. The station was previously a recipient in 1984 and in 1990.
WBRZ has been locally owned since its first day of broadcasting, in 1955. The station currently airs 8 hours of original local news each weekday on its primary channel (affiliated with ABC) and on WBRZ Plus, channel 2.2, with additional news programming on weekends.
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