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.
Winning Piece: Trafficked
Category: News Documentary - Small Market Television
Is this your station’s first National Edward R. Murrow Award?
It is our second. We won for a feature in 2003.
Please provide a short description of what your winning entry was about.
"Trafficked" uncovered the incredible increase in Sex Trafficking in the Oil Patch of Western North Dakota. Because of the influx of thousands of oil workers with "ready cash," (living in man camps), organized crime organizations moved into the Bakken with guns, money, drugs, and young girls who were being trafficked. The transactions taking place via mobile phone.
What were some of the challenges you or your news team faced while reporting and producing this piece?
We are a small news staff. The time dedicated to the special project was a burden to our "daily turn" work, but it paid off in the end. Also, it took a lot of time and relationship building before getting cooperation from some victims and law enforcement who alter became part of the story.
Did you receive a lot of audience feedback from this piece? If so, what was the general reaction?
Audience reaction was very positive. It sparked community conversations in many towns around North Dakota and Minnesota, that invited us to packed auditoriums to show the documentary, where a panel of experts took questions from members of those communities. It is also being used by church groups in the region.
What does winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award mean to you and your station/group?
The Murrow is a way to thank our locally and family owned communications company, Forum Communications and WDAY TV, for allowing its small staff to still do big projects. It promotes and supports documentary work here at home and around the world. People look at me like I am crazy when I tell them my documentary work at WDAY TV in Fargo has taken me to Vietnam, Mongolia, Angola, Haiti, Kosovo, Iraq, Uganda and Peru. The Murrow is also a way to reward small stations for doing work that informs, educates and benefits the communities it serves.