Station Group, Sole Recipient in its Category since the Cronkite's 2001 Inception, Once Again Earns Nation's Highest Honor for Election, Issues Reporting on Local TV
Honors Also Go to Hearst-Argyle's WGAL-TV, Lancaster/Harrisburg;
And to WESH-TV, Orlando, Reporter Greg Fox
NEW YORK, NY, and LOS ANGELES, March 10, 2009 -- Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc. has earned its fifth consecutive USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, in recognition of coverage of the 2008 election season.
The Cronkite Awards, named for the legendary CBS newsman, were established at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication following the 2000 election season to recognize excellence in television coverage of politics and political issues, quickly becoming the industry's most recognized honor in the field. They have been issued five times – following the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 election seasons.
The Hearst-Argyle station group has received the Cronkite for the Station Group category each time; its five consecutive honors surpass the total of Cronkites to any other single entity in any category during the life of the awards.
According to the judges, Hearst-Argyle was recognized "for its commitment to airing political coverage on all its 25 stations across the country." Hearst-Argyle, judges wrote, "renews and revises its philosophy for each election cycle, in 2008 increasing candidate-centered coverage in prime newscasts to 10 minutes per day." Judges were "impressed by the work of several stations, including a report on voters tricked into signing anti-affirmative action initiatives, and a how-to on hacking electronic voting machines."
Also honored, in the Local Broadcast Station category, was Hearst-Argyle's WGAL-TV, serving the Lancaster/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, television market. According to the judges, WGAL "used its eight full-time staff members dedicated to political coverage to offer viewers thought-provoking and visually engaging stories about the presidential campaign, as well as congressional and state-level races." Judges "made special note of the surprisingly probing and revealing interviews with Obama and McCain and the overall entertaining, engaging and innovative reporting." Sharing honors in this category was Belo Corporation's KING-TV, Seattle, a third-time winner in this category.
Greg Fox, reporter at Hearst-Argyle's WESH-TV, serving the Orlando/Daytona/Melbourne, Florida, TV market, was honored for a second time in the category of Individual Achievement at a Local Station. According to the judges, he was recognized for "excellent journalistic analysis and helping voters evaluate what candidates say in a ‘Truth Tests' series." Judges praised Fox's work as "comprehensive, innovative, engaging and compelling" and added, "This should be sent out to every station as a model."
Other honorees in various categories included Wisconsin Public Television, PBS Network's "NOW," ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous" and CBS anchor Katie Couric.
"These Cronkite Award winners prove that thoughtful, informative political coverage can also make for gripping television," said USC Annenberg professor Martin Kaplan, director of the School's Norman Lear Center, which administers the biennial awards.
"Americans may have more places to turn for political news than ever before, but television remains journalism's largest public square," Cronkite said. "These awards honor reporters, producers, news directors, stations and anchors who take advantage of that reach, and who live up to that responsibility. Especially when resources are painfully scarce, it's important to celebrate journalists who use their skills at storytelling to strengthen our democracy."
The panel of eight judges was chaired by Geneva Overholser, director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. Entries were screened by 22 Annenberg faculty and alumni with experience in broadcast journalism.
The awards will be presented on the USC campus in Los Angeles on April 15.
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the USC Annenberg School for Communication (www.annenberg.usc.edu) is among the nation's leading institutions devoted to the study of journalism and communication, and their impact on politics, culture and society. With an enrollment of more than 1,900 graduate and undergraduate students, USC Annenberg offers degree programs in journalism, communication, public diplomacy and public relations. The Norman Lear Center (www.learcenter.org) studies the impact of entertainment on society, including its effect on the quality of television news. For more information about the Cronkite Awards, visit www.reliableresources.org.
Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc. a leading local media company, owns 26 television stations, and manages an additional three television and two radio stations. The Company's television stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households, making it one of America's largest television station groups. It also owns 30 websites and 19 digital multicast channels providing news, weather and entertainment programming. Hearst-Argyle is majority-owned by Hearst Corporation. The Company's Web address is www.hearstargyle.com.
Campo Communications, LLC