WRAL-TV wins national award for 'The Journey Alone' documentary

Posted December 15, 2015

The Journey Alone

— Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism has honored WRAL News with one of the most prestigious prizes in journalism – The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. WRAL received the honor for the documentary "The Journey Alone" about the surge in illegal immigration of unaccompanied minors from Mexico.

For the documentary, WRAL News reporter Leyla Santiago and photojournalist Zac Gooch traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, where more than 52,000 children crossed the border alone. The journalists traced the path of the children and investigated how the crisis impacted North Carolina.

The Journey Alone The Journey Alone

According to the award announcement, “The program is well-shot and well-paced, and expertly tackled a humanitarian and political issue of both national and local importance.”

“We knew this was a building, national story that had significant implications for North Carolina,” said WRAL News Director Rick Gall. “Leyla and Zac did an amazing job in Texas and back here, capturing the many layers and perspectives surrounding children crossing alone into the U.S.”

“At the core of what we do is to inform, enlighten and educate our viewers,” said WRAL-TV Vice President and General Manager Steve Hammel. “I am pleased the judges recognized the excellent journalism of our team. Our viewers expect this quality and we strive to deliver it daily.”

The duPont Awards ceremony will be Jan. 19, 2016, at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library in New York.

WRAL staffers also credited for the award include: WRAL.com reporter Kelly Hinchcliffe, WRAL News Director Rick Gall, WRAL Assistant News Director Aysu Basaran and graphic artist Steve Loyd.


Reporter Leyla Santiago

WRAL reporter Leyla Santiago

Leyla was born in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. She is bilingual, and her fluency in Spanish was an asset in reporting from the border. She is a University of Florida graduate and has been recognized for her work by The Associated Press and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Photojournalist Zac Gooch

WRAL photojournalist Zac Gooch

Zac has been in broadcast news for 10 years. He won two Emmys for his last documentary, When Kern Burned, and another Emmy for news editing. He is from Virginia and has also lived in Alaska and California.


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  • Duane Putnam Dec 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Sam, everyone has an opinion, however the award is for the overall photojournalism effort and the resulting product. This is a well shot, produced, and reported story on something that affects us all. Look at the footage, hear the words, listen to the message, and leave the politics in your pocket. Winning this award is a big gold star for these local journalists and WRAL, no matter what your opinion of the content might be! Congrats to you all. Job well done!

  • Sam Adams Dec 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Documentary? More like a propaganda piece.