Two Tampa Bay area TV outlets win honors during NABJ awards ceremony
Some of the biggest news outlets in the country walk away with honors when the National Association of Black Journalists recognizes quality coverage of minority issues in its Salute to Excellence Awards.
And two Tampa Bay area TV outlets were among those honored Saturday at the group's gala awards dinner, capping a weeklong convention that drew nearly 2,000 attendees to the Tampa Convention Center.
Local Fox affiliate WTVT-Ch. 13 won the investigative reporting award for Small Town Justice, its dogged coverage of a Haitian immigrant truck driver who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a traffic accident that killed two people.
There were numerous questions about the investigation, which led authorities to charge him with falling asleep behind the wheel, and even the family of the people killed in the accident maintained an all-white jury levied a too-harsh sentence because of the color of the truck driver's skin. Reporter Doug Smith uncovered evidence that led a judge to throw out the man's conviction and eventually pushed prosecutors to cut a deal in which the former truck driver would face no new trial and serve no more jail time.
Area 24-hour newschannel Bay News 9 also won the specialty reporting award for "Mercy Hospital Miracle," a story by reporter Dalia Dangerfield.
Saturday's gala featured a journalist of the year award for National Public Radio anchor Michele Norris, a lifetime achievement award for ESPN host Michael Wilbon and 70 additional honors for journalists who have excelled in covering issues related to African-Americans.
"NABJ launched my career. It nurtured my career and it continues to stand as a beacon in my life," said Norris, co-host of NPR's All Things Considered. "When they say the best days of journalism are behind us, prove them wrong."