LOS ANGELES, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Proving that political coverage can be both informative and compelling, the 2013 winners of the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism were announced today by the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The 2013 Cronkite Awards recognize distinguished work produced during the 2011-2012 election cycle.
This competition introduced a new category: the Cronkite/Jackson Prize for Fact Checking Political Messages, named for the founding director of FactCheck.org, Brooks Jackson, and selected by a special jury convened by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania, home of FactCheck.org.
- Local station winner: KUSA, Denver, CO, an NBC affiliate owned by the Gannett Company. The jury was impressed by KUSA's commitment of reportorial talent to its 44 "Truth Tests," the skill with which it minimized the impact of the visuals in the analyzed ads and the on-air/online synergy created by posting the analyses and supporting articles and sources on 9news.com.
- National winner: CNN. Tom Foreman's in-depth "Reality Checks" effectively used three-dimensional graphics to clarify the complexity of the underlying issues, set the candidates' exchanges in historical context and underscore corrections.
Said APPC director and University of Pennsylvania professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, "In a competition filled with exemplary work, the graphics innovations of CNN and KUSA, and KUSA's web outreach stood out."LOCAL BROADCAST STATION
- KARE TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, a Gannett-owned NBC affiliate, wins this category. Especially impressive to judges was its coverage of the marriage equality debate in which – through a partnership with Minnesota Public Radio – reporters traveled the state, interviewing citizens with diverse viewpoints and "getting to the core of this issue." Judges recognized the station's efforts to find thought-provoking viewpoints that propelled the story and informed the viewer: "KARE's strength is in its storytelling. Coverage was fair, balanced and deeply personal."
- WBNS 10TV, Columbus, OH, a CBS affiliate owned by the Dispatch Broadcast Group, receives a Special Commendation for Citizen Engagement. Judges were impressed with the station's online interactive voter guide, created in partnership with the Columbus Dispatch and ThisWeek Community News, which helped voters learn how the issues affected their lives personally. Judges also applauded WBNS for its "Show You Care & Vote" bus tour, which traveled to college campuses across the state, registering more than 130 people to vote. "It is important for TV stations to be engaged with their citizens. These efforts should be celebrated."
- Marshall Zelinger, KMGH, Denver, CO, wins this category for his "clarity of presentation" and "modern production techniques" at this E.W. Scripps Company-owned ABC affiliate. His reporting was "thoroughly researched and well presented," and his "truth tracker" segments included debates and speeches. When his pieces were limited by time, he put extended explanations of issues and links to related information on the KMGH website – providing what judges praised as "an additional depth" to his coverage.
- Tom McKee, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, OH , a Scripps-owned ABC affiliate, receives a Special Commendation for Citizen Engagement. Judges were impressed with his extensive fieldwork, traveling the state to record 135 questions from Ohio citizens that he then presented to candidates to answer in sit-down interviews. "He did something different to bring citizens into the conversation in a very real way." As a one-man shop, he videotaped the questions, set up the candidate interviews, wrote the scripts and oversaw postproduction. "A lot of work went into this effort, and voters got the maximum benefit from his reporting."
- Northwest Cable News (NWCN), Seattle, WA , owned by Belo Corp., wins for its "innovative production techniques" and "analysis-heavy coverage… a political junkie's dream." Highlighted was the station's effort to connect with viewers through Google+, Facebook and Twitter, "exemplifying the power of social media and modern technology to engage viewers in the conversation."
- NewsChannel8/Politico/WJLA, Arlington, VA, owned by Allbritton Communications, also wins this category. It was praised for its "in-depth and incisive" reporting, its use of new technology and its commitment to helping viewers understand how their election day choices affect their lives. Judges noted that the cable/publication/broadcast operation – NewsChannel8 is a 24-hour cable news channel that operates as part of WJLA-TV (an ABC affiliate) and partners with Politico – demonstrates what pooled cross-platform resources can do.
- TVW, Olympia, WA . Washington State Public Affairs Network, a nonprofit funded primarily by the Washington state legislature, is one of the oldest public affairs networks in the country. TVW wins for "compelling, fair and very visual treatment" of issues affecting the state, with judges singling out examinations of coal and marijuana legalization. " Washington voters are lucky to have TVW as a news source to turn to."
- Hearst Television garnered its seventh consecutive award for "comprehensive and extremely well-presented" coverage. Judges admired the station group's use of the Internet to complement broadcast coverage, including an election app.
- Belo Corp. is a first-time winner in this category for its "engaging, clear, balanced and extremely informative" election coverage, using an impressive variety of broadcast and interactive online formats to track races at all levels – local, state, regional and national.