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Local Media & Agencies

Apr. 4 - Media General honors JoAnn Merrigan, Andrew Davis and Art Ottimo at Television Station Journalism Awards

Category: Local Media & Agencies

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

April 4, 2014 - Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG), a local broadcast television and digital media company, and owner of WSAV – and recently purchased WJCL and WTGS - in Savannah today presented its annual D. Tennant Bryan journalism awards which recognized outstanding journalism at the company’s television stations during the 2013 calendar year.

The awards are named in honor of Media General’s founder and have been presented annually since 2001.

“I congratulate all the winners, whose tenacity and dedication make us very proud,” said George L. Mahoney, president and chief executive officer. “This excellent work exemplifies Media General’s commitment to quality, local journalism and strong investigative reporting, distinguishing our stations in their markets. Our news teams never hesitate to go after the tough stories, and they tell them with passion and poignancy. The winning journalists touched lives and spotlighted issues that matter to their communities, building our audience, ratings and shareholder value.”

“We are delighted to recognize our journalists and stations with the D. Tennant Bryan awards for excellence in journalism,” said Donna M. Reed, vice president-content, for Media General. “The winning entries demonstrate our commitment to stories that make a difference to our viewers.”

Nominated stories in six categories were judged by Media General news directors. News directors in large markets judged entries from small markets. Conversely, news directors in small markets judged entries from large market stations.  The awards presented today were for stories submitted during 2013 and next year will encompass all of the company’s 31 stations.

All of the winning stories are available for viewing via YouTube.

The 2013 D. Tennant Bryan Awards were awarded to the following journalists and TV stations:

Spot News Reporting

WJAR - News Staff for “Blizzard of 2013.” WJAR stayed on the air for 24 consecutive hours to help viewers weather the storm.

WSAV, Savannah, Ga. – JoAnn Merrigan and Andrew Davis for “Effingham Tanker Explosion,” the station’s coverage of an explosion in a small town outside of Savannah.


WJAR – Bob Farrell for “Rounding Up,” illustrations from a story about a local coffee shop chain that rounds all transactions up to the nearest nickel.

WSAV – Art Ottimo for “Police Memorial,” featuring moving images from the 2013 Police Memorial ceremony in Savannah.

Investigative Reporting

WJAR, Providence-New Bedford, R.I. – Parker Gavigan for “Tiverton Town Worker,” an investigation that exposed a town maintenance supervisor for doing personal business on town time.

WJHL, Tri-Cities, Va./Tenn. - Nate Morabito, Phillip Murrell and Jennifer Dale for “Public Housing Salaries,” an investigation that uncovered families living in public housing while earning high salaries.

General News Reporting

WFLA, Tampa, Fla. – Steve Andrews and Gordon Dempsey for “To Die at Home,” a story about a woman who invited friends in need to stay in her house, only to become homeless herself when her guests turned into nuisances.

WJHL - Nate Morabito and David McAvoy for “Amanda Berry.” Mr. Morabito was present at Ms. Berry’s grandparents’ house when she called them for the first time after being released from captivity.

Feature News Reporting

WKRG, Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola, Fla. – John Nodar for “Beach Walk,” a report inspecting eight miles of Alabama shoreline three years after the BP oil spill.

WJHL – David McAvoy, Sara Diamond, Phillip Murrell, Doug Counts and Ted Overbay for “Are Your Secrets Safe?” The team submitted computers to various degrees of damage to find out how much personal data could still be recovered.

Multimedia Journalism

WSPA, Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, S.C./Asheville, N.C. – Gordon Dill, Aaron Smeltzer and Kevin Justus for “Hospital Prices,” which demonstrated the confusion in obtaining prices of basic procedures from local hospitals. The station created a searchable web portal where viewers can find prices for 100 common procedures.

WJHL – News Staff for “Monday’s Most Wanted Round Up,” a partnership with local law officials to capture criminals through tips from the public.

Media General, Inc. is a leading local television broadcasting and digital media company, providing top-rated news, information and entertainment in strong markets across the U.S. The company owns or operates 31 network-affiliated broadcast television stations and their associated digital media and mobile platforms, in 28 markets. These stations reach 16.5 million, or 14%, of U.S. TV households. Sixteen of the 31 stations are located in the top 75 designated market areas. Media General first entered the local television business in 1955 when it launched WFLA in Tampa, Florida as an NBC affiliate. The company subsequently expanded its station portfolio through acquisition. In November of 2013, Media General and Young Broadcasting merged, combining Media General’s 18 stations and Young’s 13 stations.

In March, the company announced the acquisition of the company that owns WJCL and WTGS in Savannah, as well.


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