Murrow Mondays: WBAL wins for Freddie Gray coverage

September 26, 2016 01:30

On Mondays leading up to this year's Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala on October 10, we'll be highlighting some of our National Edward R. Murrow Award winners.

Organization: WBAL-AM
Winning Piece: Freddie Gray
Category: Large Market Radio - Continuing Coverage
Twitter: @WBALradio

Is this your station’s first National Edward R. Murrow Award?
This is not the first National Edward R. Murrow Award for WBAL Newsradio 1090. We have been fortunate to have at least 22 National Edward R Murrow Awards in the trophy case.

Please provide a short description of what your winning entry was about.
The entry that was judged for the National Edward R. Murrow award describes the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.The riot broke out just as high school let out, and at a key city bus depot for student commuters around Mondawmin Mall, a shopping area northwest of downtown Baltimore. It shifted about a mile away later to the heart of an older shopping district and near where Gray first encountered police. Both commercial areas are in African-American neighborhoods. As police in riot gear tried to gain control of an area where rocks were being thrown at them, people began looting clothing and other items from stores at the mall, which became unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets. The unrest spread through other parts of the city with buildings being burned to the ground.

What were some of the challenges you or your news team faced while reporting and producing this piece?
We were challenged with the fatigue of following a story that was so unpredictable. Social media played a huge part in spreading information about the next protest but although some of the protest proved to be very organized,there were people who were unruly who hijacked the protest for destructive reasons. As soon as you relaxed,something boiled over that was cause for concern. We also were not as prepared to cover such dangers. We had to secure and revisit safety procedures.

Did you receive a lot of audience feedback from this piece?  If so, what was the general reaction?
I think the audience used the station to alert them of the detours. Our traffic reporters were a huge part of the story as many of the protest blocked highways. I think they grew to undertand that we will bring  them the story live at as it unfolded which included many press conferences as well.

What does winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award mean to you and your station/group?
We are so proud to be consistently recognized for being great storytellers. Our history of winning combined with our recent achievements prove that we have a grasp of how to tell stories to a new generation. We are a legendary station that undeerstands how to reinvent our news strategy when demands are different. We are confident that these awards cement our credibility in our community.