Which News Medium Really Does Investigative Journalism?
KXAN TV (NBC) proclaims in its promotional spots that it has the only investigative team in town. Anchor/reporter Chris Willis Monday (November 21, 2001), became the new leader of the news department investigative efforts.
That distinction did belong to Nanci Wilson, an award-winning investigative reporter who, along with Keith Elkins, formed the core of the investigative team at KEYE TV (CBS) years ago. Elkins now heads a lobby group advocating open government. Wilson came to KXAN in 2009, but left a few months ago after winning two Lone Star Chapter Emmy Awards for her investigative work.
Willis, who has been with KXAN since 1999, has strong investigative credentials. The station is making good use of his talents by taking him out from behind the morning and noon anchor desk.
“His experiences in the field and from behind the anchor desk have allowed Chris the opportunity to develop unmatched relationships with our audience and the newsmakers of Austin,” KXAN news director Michael Fabac said in a statement.
Is KXAN the only “investigative” news medium in the Austin market? Hmmmm.
Have you seen the teamwork of KVUE TV (ABC) and the Austin American-Statesman on a series of recent stories? Under the title, “Statesman Investigates”, Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski worked with KVUE on a series of stories appearing both on the air and in the paper about the City of Austin’s costly use of outside attorneys. Keli Rabon is now KVUE’s Chief Investigative Reporter.*
Rabon, who grew up in Schulenburg and attended Texas Lutheran University, lists multiple investigative awards in her relatively short career including a Murrow Award. She returns to Central Texas after two years in Mississippi and three years in Memphis, Tennessee. “The Defenders” is the moniker for KVUE’s investigative efforts.
Teaming with Plohetski at the newspaper is really a plus. It is sort of a shame taking Plohetski off of the streets for intensive investigative work when it seemed that every daily story he did was investigative.
Some news managers believe that every reporter on the staff is an investigative reporter. It’s redundant to say otherwise. If any reporter came to me with a cool idea, I would give that reporter the extra time and resources to develop it.
So, KXAN’s slogan is “In-Depth. Investigative”. KVUE calls its time the “Defenders”. KEYE’s Chris Coffey was the investigative reporter for KTBC-TV (Fox), but he does more general assignments reporting now. The Austin American-Statesman prints the slug “Statesman Investigates”.
So, does KXAN really have “Austin’s only dedicated investigative team.” You decide.
(*For the most part I’ve stopped trying to keep up with all the comings and goings of reporters in Austin news media. While the anchors at all the stations have been stable for years, it’s another story with the reporting staffs. Yes, over the years many reporters decided that Austin was their destination. Now, however, it seems like I see a new face every day, and Austin is a weigh station. Perhaps that’s a future post.)
© Jim McNabb, November, 2011