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WMFE’s reporting on TSA in Orlando, Pulse shooting named best in the country



ORLANDO — Community-based WMFE’s investigative series on the TSA in Orlando continues to be recognized. Public Media Journalists Association has named it best in the country along with a WMFE investigation into the Pulse shooting. Society of Professional Journalists members also honored the TSA and Pulse reporting along with an Apollo digital media project.


The PMJA announced the winners of the 2020 Annual Awards for work completed in calendar year 2019 in a virtual ceremony on June 25. WMFE is in Division A (News Staff of 8 to 15).

First Place: Enterprise/InvestigativeTSA in Turmoil (Abe Aboraya, Danielle Prieur, Isaac Babcock)

Reporters Danielle Prieur and Abe Aboraya launched “TSA in Turmoil”, a six-month-long investigation after a TSA agent’s public suicide at the Orlando International Airport (MCO) in February 2019. Photography for the series was done by Isaac Babcock. The investigation revealed a toxic workplace culture and a pattern of abuse and retaliation among TSA workers in Orlando and at other airports across the country. A couple of weeks after the series aired, the TSA elevated suicide prevention to a top priority

First Place: News/Public Affairs ProgramIntersection: Reporting On TSA & Talking Solutions To Workplace Problems (Matthew Peddie, Abe Aboraya and Danielle Prieur) 

Peddie, host of WMFE’s weekly public affairs show, hosted an episode the week the “TSA in Turmoil” series aired that included an interview with TSA acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell, the first and only interview granted by TSA  — and it was only after the series started airing. It also featured interviews with U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho and Darren Soto, and reporters Prieur and Aboraya.

First Place: Breaking News – State Attorney: No Civilians Hit By Friendly Fire In Pulse Shooting (WMFE staff)

Breaking news reporting from February 2019 when the state attorney’s office ended a six-month investigation into the Pulse nightclub shooting, concluding no civilians were shot by law enforcement. Law enforcement opened fire five separate times during the standoff, which lasted more than three hours. In total, 14 officers fired more than 180 shots – but hit no civilians.

“I am proud of the WMFE news team and pleased at this recognition from our industry peers, with three first place awards from PMJA,” said Erika Pulley-Hayes, president and CEO of WMFE. “The impact of this work is reflected in our public affairs show, Intersection, which provides an open space for community conversations regarding the Pulse nightclub shooting, turmoil at the TSA and other issues identified by WMFE’s public service journalism.”


WMFE was also recognized for 2019 reporting with three awards in the 70th Annual Green Eyeshade Awards, a regional contest hosted by the southerners from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Second Place: Digital Media PresentationApollo: Then & Now (Brendan Byrne, Jim Hobart and Ryan Ellison)

In the 1960s, NASA’s Apollo program spurred growth and development on Florida’s Space Coast. Fifty years later, the lasting impact of the program can still be seen. WMFE’s space reporter Brendan Byrne and digital producer Ryan Ellison worked with photographer Jim Hobart to capture what has changed —  and what hasn’t — in the five decades since the Apollo program.

Second Place: Investigative ReportingTSA in Turmoil (Abe Aboraya, Danielle Prieur, Isaac Babcock)

Third Place: Breaking News ReportingState Attorney: No Civilians Hit By Friendly Fire In Pulse Shooting (WMFE staff)

“The Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade awards has also recognized the outstanding work of this news team,” Pulley-Hayes said. “In addition to WMFE’s reporting on the TSA and Pulse, this year’s awards shine a spotlight on the ‘digital first’ approach to telling the story of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program. 

“We’d like to thank photographer Jim Hobart for helping us create a visual experience that captures the historical significance of the moon shot and the renaissance of the space industry. And a special thanks to Matthew Peddie, Brendan Byrne, Abe Aboraya, Danielle Prieur, Ryan Ellison, Isaac Babcock and the entire newsroom for their dedicated coverage of stories that matter to Central Florida.”

About Community Communications Inc.:

Community Communications Inc. is a locally owned, and operated, non-profit public media organization that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, metro Orlando’s primary provider of NPR programming; 90.7-2 Classical; and 89.5 WMFV, public radio for The Villages, Leesburg and The Golden Triangle. Listener-supported Community Communications has been serving the community since 1980 with trusted news and programming from a local, national and international perspective. Visit wmfe.org and wmfv.org for more information.

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