WBAA Overall Excellence Entry

Jan 8, 2020

A fire engulfed an entire corner of a West Lafayette neighborhood in July.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

WBAA's three-person newsroom was busy in 2019, spending much of its time on in-depth reporting.

We made a conscious effort to tell more stories from rural communities outlying Greater Lafayette than we had in the past, and it painted a rich, if sometimes complicated, picture of our neighbors.

Some of them love the idea of wind farms generating more green power. But others worry about their land rights being eroded and use their organizing muscle to begin to change other civic discussions.

We covered other kinds of civic engagement, too. Whether it was a protest about perceived racism at nail salons or the statewide "Red For Ed" teacher rallies or even an in-depth story about how some activists might seem to be on the same side, but aren't always, WBAA spent the year finding new angles to stories people might have thought they already knew.

We heard from people touched by those the community lost in 2019, from the longest-serving mayor in the history of West Lafayette to a Holocaust survivor whose message echoed from Indiana around the world.

And we provided food for thought.

Think recycling is as easy as throwing all your plastics and glass in one container at home and having it sorted elsewhere? Not so.

What happens when the last dry cleaner in a town closes? What does that signal about the future of "quality of place"? We not only asked that question, we distributed a survey and organized a public forum in that city to hear from as many people as we could about where they see their burg headed.

Thanks for your attention to our entry, which we humbly submit for consideration in the 2020 Edward R. Murrow Awards contest's "Overall Excellence" category. Our work is proof that a small, committed group of journalists can make people see beyond their borders, hear others in a new way and consider ideas they might never have pondered before.

ENTRY RUNDOWN:

00:00-00:57 (Continuing Coverage): A year-long fight over wind farms in West Central Indiana split several communities.

00:58-2:14 (Feature Reporting): Frankfort, Indiana -- a city with a 25% Latino population -- held its first-ever Hispanic Heritage Festival. But does that make up for decades of "othering" those citizens have endured?

2:15-3:35 (Excellence in Writing): Indiana Holocaust survivor Eva Kor died in 2019, leaving behind a legacy of offering forgiveness -- but in a fiery way that made her message stand out.

3:36-5:02 (Excellence in Sound): A year ago, WBAA uncovered foot-dragging by local officials, who'd dallied in allowing food stamp users to spend those benefits at city-run farmer's markets. Our story helped get fresh food to more people and even spurred the local bus company to offer free rides to one market, on which reporter Emilie Syberg rode along with one patron.

5:03-6:21 (Investigative Reporting): When Montgomery County passed its first comprehensive plan, the land use document singled out "low-income housing" as an "undesirable" use of property.

6:22-7:23 (Local Issues): Greater Lafayette has a great many activists, but they sometimes struggle to align their messages -- and that can lead to even more people feeling left out of local conversations.

7:23-8:30 (News Series): The way recycling is done is going to need a reset in the near future. WBAA's series looks at the ways people must be better educated about the realities of the practice (more of your "recycling" gets thrown away than you probably realize) and the average consumer is likely to have to put in more effort in the days to come.

8:31-10:01 (Coverage of Race): When, around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a group of African-American women protested outside a Lafayette nail salon, it opened up some old wounds wrought by perceived discriminiation. But the issues involved in the back-and-forth proved much more complicated -- especially if the community wants to get past them.

10:02-11:08 (Coverage of Education): In a year which saw Boeing ground many of its jets due to malfunctions, flight schools across the country are trying to deal with a coming pilot shortage and with transforming old ways of teaching into usable techniques for next-generation aircraft. But are simulators enough, or must those schools change the way they make money?

11:09-13:13 (Newscast): Late in the afternoon on July 12, a fire engulfed five homes in a West Lafayette neighborhood, The newscast includes a live shot from the neighborhood, as well as a story about Duke Energy trying to create more clean energy in a hot summer that requires a lot of it to stay cool.