You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

WFAA-TV: Station’s Peabody-worthy reporting offers hope for local TV news

Recent headlines about the state of broadcast TV news, particularly at the local station Wfaaold_2 level, have been almost as harsh as the grim reports about the fate of newspapers.

Established TV news outlets have been shedding editorial staff, even at the once-vaunted O&O level. Stations are relying more and more on pre-fab wire reports and in some cases even running thinly veiled promotional vids complete with bogus “correspondents” as part of regular newscasts. On too many stations, newscasts have been tarted-up, tabloid-ed, dumbed-down and frequently prostituted for corny tie-ins with adjacent entertainment programming. Old-school broadcast journos like the late great Bill Stout (oh how I miss him) are sneering at us from beyond the grave.

Given these unfortunate truths, it was extra-heartening to see in the list of 2007 Peabody Award winners announced last week that the 16 esteemed members of the awards committee found plenty to commend at one old-guard network affiliate that has long nurtured and protected its reputation as a provider of local news that matters.

WFAA-TV, serving the Dallas-Fort Worth market, earned a Peabody that recognized for a series of influential, in-depth reports from the station’s dedicated investigative reporting unit on four topics: fraud and negligent lending practices at the federal U.S. Export-Import Bank; the lethal lack of oversight of the maintenance of natural gas pipelines running near residential areas; a probe of the unconscionably cozy relationship between a local police department, NBC’s “Dateline” and a watchdog group that set up a series of sting operations to nab men who trolled on the Internet to arrange sex dates with teenagers; and a heartbreaking look at conditions in a Homeland Security detainee center and the story of one immigrant family’s ordeal.

Peabodymedallion1Each one of the reports is incredibly detailed, well-reported and well-told in terms of its impact on the people of the state of Texas. Each report had a swift and significant impact on the moves taken by others to address problems raised in WFAA’s reporting. But most impressive was the intelligent and altogether sober presentation of reports on complex topics with lots of specific information, documents, whistle-blowers and opinions from all sides of presented to viewers in segments than run as long as — gasp — six minutes or more.

This is reporting that takes time and shoe leather, extensive research and the support of an editorial staff with a deep understanding of the communities they serve. This is television that respects the intelligence of its audience. There are no histrionics or hyperventilating in the delivery, just two seasoned investigative reporters tackling important stories in a fearless, responsible manner. The rhyme of the slogan “News 8 Investigates” is as gimmicky as it gets.

More TV

  • Martin Short

    Martin Short Joins Whitney Cummings, Lee Daniels Amazon Comedy Pilot 'Good People'

    The cast of the Amazon comedy pilot “Good People” continues to grow, with Martin Short becoming the latest big name star to sign on to the project. Short joins previously announced cast members Lisa Kudrow, Greg Kinnear, and Whitney Cummings. Cummings is also writing and executive producing the pilot with Lee Daniels. “Good People” centers [...]

  • 100 Most-Watched TV Shows of 2018-19:

    100 Most-Watched TV Shows of 2018-19: Winners and Losers

    As traditional ratings continue to decline, so do the networks’ reliance on those numbers as a benchmark. Nowhere was it more noticeable than at this month’s upfronts presentations in New York, where the “r” word on everyone’s tongues wasn’t “ratings” — it was “reach.” Sure, everyone still touted their No. 1 status when they could [...]

  • Sam Champion

    Sam Champion Returns to Disney's WABC

    Sam Champion, one of the nation’s best-known weather anchors, will return to the station where he rose to greater fame. Walt Disney’s WABC said Champion would join its staff as a weather anchor on its weekday morning and noon newscasts. He will start Monday, June 3. He is expected to also contribute to ABC News. [...]

  • THE INBETWEEN -- "Pilot" Episode 101

    TV Review: NBC's 'The InBetween'

    There’s something to be said for a TV show that knows exactly what its lane is and fulfills its duties enough to hold together. NBC’s “The InBetween,” Moira Kirland’s new procedural billed as a “paranormal drama,” is a fan of just about every procedural cliche in the book, right down to the cheesy music following [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content