KBIA-FM Wins National Edward R. Murrow Award for Feature Reporting

Youth in Ferguson on KBIA-FM

It’s the Station’s Second National Murrow in a Row, Fourth in Last 10 Years

Columbia, Mo. (June 24, 2015) — For the second year in a row, KBIA-FM wins a national Edward R. Murrow Award. This year, the station won for feature reporting. Given by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the honor recognizes outstanding achievements in electronic journalism.

Youth in Ferguson on KBIA-FM
KBIA-FM wins a national Edward R. Murrow Award for feature reporting for “Youth in Ferguson, ‘I want more for my city than what it is now.”

In 2014 KBIA won a national Murrow award for best website. It’s the station’s fourth national Murrow in the last 10 years.

“To give this some perspective, few radio stations in the entire country have won so many Murrow Awards over the years,” said Kent Collins, chair of the radio-television journalism faculty. “And KBIA wins while managing more than 100 students each academic year. KBIA is a winner among winners.”

A team of station’s reporters produced the winning story, “Youth in Ferguson, ‘I want more for my city than what it is now,’” Austin Federa, Katie Hiler, Hope Kirwan and Bram Sable-Smith. Kirwan, BJ ’15, a senior when she did the reporting for this story, continues to work at KBIA as a part-time reporter on the Health and Wealth Desk. The others were professional staff at the station. Federa is now working at the Boston Globe. Hiler is freelancing for WHYY in Philadelphia. Sable-Smith is a full-time reporter on the Health and Wealth Desk.

Assistant Professor and News Director Ryan Famuliner was the story’s editor. Michael Dunn serves as KBIA’s general manager.

KBIA won five regional Murrow awards in the 2014-15 academic year, including Overall Excellence. Only 13 awards are given annually in each class size.

The following explanation of the story share KBIA’s editorial approach to the story, as events unfolded in Ferguson during the summer of 2014. This account accompanied the contest entry.

The issues that would resonate after 18-year old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson were clear within hours and days of the incident. That said, the immediate coverage of the story focused largely on the minute-to-minute updates of protests, arrests and burnt buildings.

Four days after the shooting, KBIA decided to go against that trend and try to instead have more measured, calm conversations with people in the area who were coming to terms with the incident and the aftermath. (Ferguson is not in our listening area, but is only about an hour and half east of Columbia). Four KBIA producers canvassed the Ferguson area for five hours, and talked to people during the morning and the middle of the day – while other reporters were napping or gearing up for another night of protest coverage. The producers worked together to edit portions of the interviews together to create the piece that you’ll hear.

We decided to have sources self-ID and used minimal reporter voicing to allow these voices to guide the conversation, and also avoid editorial intervention. We thought it important to provide a forum for these voices, which were not being heard in a constructive way at this point in time.

Even though the Ferguson coverage was only beginning at this point, many of the sources KBIA producers spoke with were already experiencing source fatigue. When they arrived on scene, KBIA reporters were initially viewed with skepticism and often their requests for interviews were rejected. But when the producers had a chance to explain what type of story they were trying to do, that they were trying to provide a forum, sources that wouldn’t talk to other news agencies were willing to speak with our producers.

We believe the stories we found did a better job of getting to the heart of the issue than much of the other coverage that was dominating the airwaves at that time. In the months following, many similar projects were launched by other organizations and outlets, including the “Youth Voices from Ferguson” project.

Updated: August 15, 2019

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