On Mondays leading up to this year's Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala this evening, we have been highlighting some of our National Edward R. Murrow Award winners.
Winning Piece: Hesston Excel Industries Shooting
Category: Breaking News - Small Market Radio
Is this your station’s first National Edward R. Murrow Award?
This actually makes two years in-a-row! We received recognition last year as well in the same category. This is our 13th National Murrow Award since 2000. In the early 2000's we had some big stories and were fortunate to have multiple wins. We also won an Overall Excellence Award in 2008.
Please provide a short description of what your winning entry was about.
The entry covered a workplace shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston, Kansas on February, 15 2016. It began with scanner reports of an individual in a vehicle shooting at on-coming traffic. Cedric Ford then drove to the lawnmower manufacturing plant and fired randomly at those working the assembly lines. He killed three people and wounded fourteen. Ford was shot and killed by the first officer responding to the scene. The entry features the first breaking news reports, coverage of a live press briefing and interviews with witnesses and bystanders at the scene.
What were some of the challenges you or your news team faced while reporting and producing this piece?
The biggest challenge was sorting through the initial information. We had listeners reporting police activity in many different areas. We quickly learned that the shooter was in a moving vehicle and that reports were coming in from different crime scenes along the way. Then listeners were seeing first responder traffic rushing to help from nearby communities. Then the challenge of deploying our assets quickly. The plant was about 30 miles from the station and would we have the necessary access to report meaningfully. The Harvey County Sherriff did a great job of locking down the area and still communicating frequently with the media in a chaotic and tragic situation.
Did you receive a lot of audience feedback from this piece? If so, what was the general reaction?
This plant was in a rural area in a town of less than 4,000. It is one of the communities we serve. Many people learned about the shooting from KFDI because the news broke just after 5 p.m. We were the leading source for people until they could get home and watch the TV coverage. There was tremendous social media reaction. The next morning, the KFDI Morning Show aired a version of Tim McGraw's "Humble and Kind" with clips from the scene and witnesses inserted - it was very powerful. That song seemed to bring it all home.
What does winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award mean to you and your station?
Scripps values and fosters quality journalism. Our goal as a radio division is to be famous for localism. Recognition of our efforts covering breaking news and severe weather is an immense honor and drives us to strive for excellence.