WGBH News has won five 2020 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including for the category Overall Excellence, which encompasses radio, television and digital news, and — for the second year in a row — Multimedia.
Overall Excellence represents the biggest win for the newsroom, and is judged by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) based upon entrance to the Newscast category and "additional examples of breaking news, continuing coverage, features and/or other work, including your web presence that reflects the depth and scope of the news organization," according to the RTDNA's website.
The Multimedia prize was awarded based on a submitted collection of stories that used a combination of written text, photography, video, or data analysis and visualizations. The stories for this category included reporter Gabrielle Emanuel and senior producer Emily Judem's "The Long Journey North: The Forgotten Story Of The Reverse Freedom Rides Of 1962," which covered Southern segregationists' 1962 plan to trick African-Americans into moving North to Massachusetts, plied with false promises of a better life awaiting them; Bianca Vázquez Toness' "Missing At The Mic: Why are Boston’s Latino parents underrepresented in school decisions?," which found that in Boston schools where 50% or more of students are Latino, parents with Spanish surnames are largely underrepresented on parent councils and do not speak before school committees; and "The Big Squeeze," a newsroom-wide series about unaffordable housing in Massachusetts.
Digital Managing Editor Laura Colarusso and Judem won the Innovation category for their story "The Original Old Boys' Club," which found that women only make up about 25% of select board and city council positions across Massachusetts. As no data about the gender makeup of municipality leadership in the commonwealth previously existed, Colarusso and Judem collected the information by calling each city and town, which took about a year. They also found that 85 Massachusetts towns had no women on their select boards, and every other New England state has more female representation in their state Congress.
Emanuel won two individual awards, for Feature Reporting and Hard News. Her winning story "How Making History Unmade a Family" chronicled the personal toll taken by Hillary and Julie Goodridge's family, whose case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health made same sex marriage legal in Massachusetts in 2004, after having their relationship scrutinized by the public and feeling pressure to be a perfect family.
Emanuel's hard news story "State Officials Warn Infants, Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women To Avoid Some Bottled Water Brands" highlighted a state warning about bottled water from Spring Hill Farm Dairy in Haverhill, Mass., which was still being sold in stores despite officials finding high levels of PFAS — man-made chemicals that have been associated with health concerns — in the water.
Phil Redo, general manager for Radio and Local News at WGBH, said in a statement that the newsroom strives "to be a reliable source for trusted news and information on multiple platforms — with an intense focus on Boston and Massachusetts as well as the wider world.
"Our priority is to deliver impactful stories that help our audiences better understand the issues affecting their communities and themselves," Redo said. "We are truly honored to be recognized with these Murrow awards — and particularly the Overall Excellence award — which demonstrates the full capacity of our newsroom and our commitment to producing high-quality news for our audiences across the state."