A five-part radio series investigating illicit massage parlors in Massachusetts and across the United States earned WGBH News and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) the national Edward R. Murrow Award, one of the most prestigious honors for broadcast and digital news. The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding journalism with this award since 1971.
The five-part series, The Business of Illicit Massage, was reported by Phillip Martin and Jenifer B. McKim and edited by Aaron Schachter for 89.7 WGBH. WGBH News Photographer Meredith Nierman was also recognized for her photo contributions to the story. The radio pieces were accompanied by a print story, published in The Boston Globe.
The team won the Best Investigative Series, Large Market Radio category with its in-depth look into the largely hidden illicit massage industry, focusing on the technology that promotes it and the rarely heard stories of sex buyers and prostituted women.
The sustained attention generated by the series on the practice of using massage parlors as a front for prostitution prompted more focus on the issue by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
“Truth, transparency and accountability are core values in the outstanding reporting that comes from WGBH News,” said Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH. “We remain committed to investigative reporting, recognizing its importance to the health of our democracy and our community. I’m thrilled the Radio Television Digital News Association recognized the dedication of our news team and honored their work with this prestigious award.”
Members of the reporting team will accept the award on behalf of WGBH News and NECIR at the Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala in New York City in October. Edward R. Murrow was a legendary CBS broadcaster who became famous for his reporting about World War II.
The announcement of the Murrow award follows recent recognition for WGBH News at The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ 42nd Annual Boston/New England Emmy Awards and the 2019 Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI) Awards.
WGBH received three Boston/New England Emmy Awards, including an Interview/Discussion Emmy for its media commentary program Beat the Press for the second year in a row for its 20th Anniversary Special; an Emmy in the Program Host/Moderator Category for Jim Braude, executive editor and host of WGBH’s Greater Boston; and an Emmy in the Audio category for WCRB Classical Radio Boston’s lead engineer Antonio Oliart for his work on the WGBH Holiday Special “’Tis The Night With Ben Folds & Friends.”
The PRNDI Awards celebrate the best public radio reporting across the country in a variety of categories. At the awards ceremony in June, WGBH News reporter Craig LeMoult was recognized with a First Place award in the Nationally Edited Breaking News category for his report, “Massachusetts Gas Leaks Set Off Series of Explosions,” about the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. WGBH News took second place in the Newscast category for its coverage on Morning Edition the day after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. WGBH News host Callie Crossley was honored with a Second Place award in the Commentary category for “The Smith College Incident is What Everyday Racism Looks Like,” which addressed a white college employee who called the police regarding a black student eating lunch alone. WCAI, WGBH’s sister station on Cape Cod, earned Second Place in the Best Collaborative Effort category for their work with The Cape Cod Times on “Are We Ready? – Hurricane Preparedness.”
“Every day, the WGBH News team works to share the stories of importance with our community,” said WGBH News Director Kate Zachry. “We are proud to be recognized with these awards and look forward to continuing to earn the trust the public places in our work.”
For a complete list of WGBH awards, click here.