|An ABC Action News I-Team investigation was honored with a prestigious, national award from The Society of Professional Journalists. The comprehensive, in-depth coverage titled “Incapacitated: Florida’s Guardianship Program” was recognized with the highly respected Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism. ABC Action News was the only large-market TV news organization in the United States to receive this award this year for investigative reporting.
This comes just days after the journalists of the Associated Press awarded the same investigation as being the “best investigative reporting” in the state of Florida.
The SPJ judges’ comments reinforce the commitment ABC Action News puts on quality journalism and investigations that make a difference in peoples’ lives.
· “Very strong story that not only exposed harm done to individual victims of the Guardianship program, but also made the case for institutional reforms to prevent injustices in the future.”
· “Thoroughly reported, well written, shot and edited.”
· “A real service to the entire community.”
· “Excellent job!”
The ABC Action News I-Team, specifically Adam Walser, Fran Gilpin, Randy Wright and Doug Iten, first started looking into Florida’s Guardianship Program after learning 99-year-old William Berchau had been placed in an Alzheimer’s unit by his guardian, despite strong evidence from those who know him best that he didn’t belong there. In Florida, guardians are not required to get appraisals before selling wards’ homes or required to be accompanied while doing initial inventories of personal possessions. Often, relatives aren’t allowed to review what reportedly came out of their loved ones’ homes. Judges, in some cases, have disregarded signed legal documents that delegated powers-of-attorney, medical decision-making and other legal authorities to their relatives before wards were incapacitated. The ABC Action News I-Team interviewed friends and family members of wards, experts in the guardian field and others to get a deeper sense of what’s going on within this system that remains invisible to most members of the public.
For more on the investigation, the troubles with the guardianship program, personal stories and resources to help those in the bay area, follow this link:
The Sigma Delta Chi Awards date back to 1932. The awards recognize the best in professional journalism in categories covering print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online and research. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.
About WFTS/ABC Action News
WFTS-TV is the primary ABC network affiliate for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota television market, programming a strong schedule of news, sports and entertainment. WFTS-ABC Action News was the first broadcast station newscast in the Tampa Bay area to broadcast in high definition. ABC Action News has been named the Associated Press’ Best Overall News Operation for past six years. ABC Action News leads the way providing local news and weather coverage on-air, on the web and on mobile phones. WFTS-TV is a Scripps Media station. For additional information, visit the WFTS-TV website at www.abcactionnews.com.
The E.W. Scripps Company (www.scripps.com) serves audiences and businesses through a growing portfolio of television, print and digital media brands. After approval of its acquisition of two Granite Broadcasting stations later this year, Scripps will own 21 local television stations as well as daily newspapers in 13 markets across the United States. It also runs an expanding collection of local and national digital journalism and information businesses including digital video news service Newsy. Scripps also produces television programming, runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and serves as the longtime steward of one of the nation’s largest, most successful and longest-running educational programs, Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1879, Scripps is focused on the stories of tomorrow.
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