WTAE-TV (4) has won one of broadcasting’s most prestigious awards.
The station’s reporting on rampant overspending by the state’s student loan agency has been honored with a George Foster Peabody Award by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The achievement was announced today by the Peabody board. Winners will be honored at a dinner June 16 at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Peabodys are awarded by a 16-member group of experts, including broadcasters, writers and artists, and are chosen after being screened by faculty, students and staff at the University of Georgia.
WTAE was honored for what the board described as a “relentless legal campaign to obtain public records of a state-run student loan program (which) netted evidence of financial misconduct and pushed the state to rewrite an antiquated right-to-know law.”
The station’s series of reports, which began in June 2006 and were anchored by investigative reporter Jim Parsons, detailed lavish travel expenses, bonuses and salaries paid to executives at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or PHEAA.
PHEAA’s president was eventually forced to retire, and in February a Commonwealth Court judge ordered the agency to reimburse WTAE, The Associated Press and the Harrisburg Patriot-News legal expenses incurred in trying to obtain its spending records.