Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guardianship series earns second duPont for WFTS

Guardianship series earns second duPont for WFTS

I-Team accepts award at Columbia University

NEW YORK - The ABC Action News I-Team was awarded one of American broadcast journalism's highest honors Tuesday evening for "Incapacitated: Florida's Guardianship Program," a months-long expose of how the state supervises the court appointees who make financial, medical and other decisions for senior citizens deemed no longer able to care for themselves.
Investigative reporter Adam Walser, investigative producer Fran Gilpin, photographer Randy Wright, and I-Team executive producer Doug Iten accepted a 2015 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award during ceremonies in New York City.
(For more about the I-Team's guardianship series, visit . A behind-the-scenes look at the series is available at .)
The duPont awards celebrate excellence in journalism and are regarded among the most prestigious prizes in broadcast, documentary and digital news – the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, which Columbia also administers.
The duPont jurors wrote that the I-Team "exposed astonishing stories of elderly people stripped of their rights and property by self-serving 'guardians.' Their homes, personal property and vehicles were often sold for a small percentage of their actual worth and then resold by guardians’ friends for huge profits."
In 2013, the I-Team initially focused on Willi Berchau, then 99, who had been locked in a dementia ward after being declared '"incapacitated" three times by court-appointed panels. After the I-Team began looking into his situation, Berchau was freed from the locked unit at a Pinellas County assisted-living facility and later was released from his guardianship when a fourth examination found him to be capable of handling his own affairs after all.
The duPont jurors noted that the I-Team's efforts helped lead Florida legislators to pass a 2014 reform bill that gave court clerks more power to review the performance of guardians.
The award was the second duPont for WFTS. The Tampa television station's investigative unit won in 2006 for reports on construction defects in a $360 million expansion of what is now the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Hillsborough County.
The latest duPont was the second national award collected by the I-Team for the guardianship series. Last year, the Society of Professional Journalists presented the I-Team with a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting.
Do you have information about government waste, fraud or abuse? A tip about business misconduct that needs to be investigated? Email us at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting.
Your comment will be held for approval by the blog owner.