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WRAL Wins Investigative Report Honors

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RALEIGH — WRAL-TV5's October, 1997 investigative report on medical malpractice in the military has received a top award in the 1997 Investigative Reporters and Editors awards. The awards, announced Thursday, are given for top print and broadcast stories.

WRAL's award, for best investigative report produced by a television station in the "below top 20 market" category, is forMilitary Medical Malpractice, by investigative reporterStuart Watsonand WRAL Chief PhotographerRichard Adkins. The five-part series looked at people who's lives had been drastically altered by military malpractice and probed the fact that such malpractice was repeatedly covered up. The Dayton Daily News, of Dayton, Ohio, cooperated with WRAL on those reports. The newspaper was an awards finalist.

The highest award given in the contest is an IRE Medal. Those went toThe Baltimore Sun, ``Dateline NBC'' and KCBS of Los Angeles.

The Baltimore Sun won a medal for ``The Shipbreakers'', a three-part series on the dangerous industry of salvaging surplus ships. In a yearlong investigation, The Sun uncovered shocking practices that resulted in worker deaths, environmental hazards and federal contracts with questionable companies.

Dateline NBC received a medal for ``Probable Cause,'' an expose of the outrageous misuse of Louisiana's drug asset forfeiture law. In its investigation, ``Dateline'' found evidence of unfair seizures of property and a system that benefited judges who oversaw the cases.

The show also received a medal last year for ``Toy Story Part I and Part II'' about the exploitation of child workers in Southeast Asia.

KCBS-TV of Los Angeles won for ``License For Sale,'' an undercover Investigation of widespread corruption inside the California Department of Motor Vehicles. KCBS-TV disclosed scandalous activities in which drivers licenses were sold.

Winner of the Tom Renner Award, which recognizes exemplary work in organized crime reporting, went to ABC News ``Primetime Live'' for ``Blood Money'', a look at the for-profit harvesting of organs from prisoners executed in China. The Renner Award comes with a $1,000 prize donated by Newsday.

Awards will be presented in June at the IRE National Conference in New Orleans.

IRE certificates were given to:
  • Newspapers, circulation below 100,000: The Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Mass., for revealing the flawed cleanup of hazardous waste at a military reservation.
  • Newspapers, circulation between 100,000 and 250,000: The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., for a series on the mismanagement and bungling of land purchases by the Delaware transportation department.
  • Television, top 20 market: KOMO-TV of Seattle, Wash., for a story about the conviction and imprisonment of a 16-year-old girl for a murder she may not have committed.
  • Television, below top 20 market: WRAL-TV of Raleigh, N.C., for a probe into how medical malpractice in the military is kept secret. The story benefited from a joint effort with the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, which was a finalist in the contest.
  • Magazine: Money Magazine for an investigation into the tragic results of alliances among big drug companies, managed care organizations and middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers. Money magazine won in the same category last year.
  • Books: The late Angus Mackenzie of the Center for Investigative Reporting for his book, ``Secrets: The CIA's War At Home,'' which described CIA attempts to censor alternative newspapers and squelch free speech from the Vietnam War forward.
  • IRE is a nonprofit professional organization based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism with more than 3,300 members. Its mission is to train journalists in in-depth reporting and editing.