With more than 100 documentaries, news series, digital projects, podcast episodes, news packages and more recognized this year, the 2018 National Murrow Award winners are fertile ground for new and seasoned journalists alike looking for examples of the best in the craft of broadcast and digital journalism.
In looking at the list of winners from this year, a few patterns emerge. These commonalities are clues into what makes good journalism.
Prioritize the fundamentals: Seek truth and report it
Murrow award winners are judged according to the RTDNA Code of Ethics and its guiding principles of truth and accuracy, transparency and accountability.
In putting truth and accuracy above all, journalism shines a light on often overlooked issues in our communities, as Murrow Award-winning reports on human trafficking from WXIA and The Texas Tribune did.
Journalism provides context and challenges assumptions, as winning work from KBIA and Alabama Public Radio did on the critical topic of health care in rural America.
Demonstrate technical expertise
The 2018 Murrow Award winners are a blueprint for the technical expertise required to do excellent storytelling. Some pieces, like KTVB’s two wins for 360 videos, demonstrate expertise in using technology to aid storytelling (see how here).
Others, like WTVF Excellence in Sound piece “Strings for Hope” used only equipment any newsroom has, but demonstrates particular mastery in capturing and editing sound into an exemplary nat pack.
Similarly, Excellence in Writing wins by Eric Hanson of KCCI and Eric Johnson of KOMO highlight the art of storytelling at its most fundamental level, using words to capture the human experience.
Listening: Knowing and including your community
Journalism has sometimes neglected some parts of our communities, and, particularly in today’s vitriolic environment, all journalists are looking for ways to better connect with, engage, and work on behalf of our audiences. Several Murrow Award-winning stories this year took innovative or in-depth approaches to getting audiences involved in more than just passive viewing.
WFDD’s Community Conversations on Mental Health started by asking residents about their concerns. KUSA’s “Show Us Your Bills” news series relied on viewers’ participation – and has saved those viewers thousands of dollars in medical costs. Citizen sleuths participating in a crowdsourcing effort to dig through a searchable database resulted in wins for The Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Partnership and collaboration
Instead of “more with less,” maybe “better together?” Several of this year’s Murrow Award winners took a collaborative approach, investing in major investigative projects by pooling resources. Time and Mic teamed up to tackle a story of addiction and recovery.
“Too Big to Prosecute" report, a joint project of "60 Minutes" and The Washington Post, took a bigger picture look at the opioid crisis with a disturbing look at Washington’s inability to hold a drug company accountable. Retro Report and The New Yorker partnered to examine the role of black athletes in political dialogue, while Reveal and PRX joined The Texas Tribune in “No Place to Run,” a further look at trafficking of children.
So take a look at this year's winning work and encorporate these lessons into your newsroom to do your best work, too.