On Mondays leading up to this year's Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala this evening, we have been highlighting some of our National Edward R. Murrow Award winners.
Winning Piece: Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Investigating DCS
Category: Investigative Reporting - Large Market Television
Is this your station’s first National Edward R. Murrow Award?
No. Our investigative team has been fortunate to be recognized with four National Murrow Awards since 2013 in the investigative reporting, continuing coverage and news series categories. Also, we are so proud that our station was also selected as this year’s Overall Excellence winner.
Please provide a short description of what your winning entry was about.
Our investigation revealed that hundreds of Dallas County Schools (DCS) bus drivers were ticketed for running red lights. The agency never disciplined the drivers but instead used tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to pay the fines. That discovery led to uncovering a series of issues including major safety concerns, misuse of taxpayer money and a general violation of public trust in a public agency responsible for transporting more than 75,000 school children daily.
What were some of the challenges you or your news team faced while reporting and producing this piece?
Our team filed dozens of records requests in pursuit of safety records and financial records. Managing the records and data was a significant challenge. As the series of reports continued school districts that use DCS for busing began to talk about switching bus providers and state lawmakers began talking about shutting DCS down. That created another major challenge as we worked to cover the daily developments and reaction to our reporting while still sorting through new records and trying to break additional investigative reports.
Did you receive a lot of audience feedback from this piece? If so, what was the general reaction?
We had a huge response to our reporting on social media and via emails and calls from viewers. Many parents and school officials reacted with outrage to the safety lapses we reported. Some parents and even insiders provided additional information about other safety and service concerns. On social media people responded by retweeting or posting red light running videos.
What does winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award mean to you and your station?
The Murrows really represent a gold standard of excellence in journalism. We watch the winning entries every year and strive to produce work that is worthy of consideration. It’s a great honor to be included among an amazing group of winners this year.