Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence
WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky
With respect toward the legacy of the station and the evolution of a product for today’s news consumer, WKYT continued to strengthen its product in 2017 by further developing the market’s only investigative unit, finding unique ways to make newscasts and digital content more engaging, and becoming a leader in how to incorporate social media – especially Facebook Live – into the lives of its viewers.
In addition to producing seven hours of newscasts each weekday on WKYT (CBS), the news department produces two hours of news each day on Sinclair-owned WDKY (Fox), and a 6:30 p.m. newscast on WKYT’s digital sub-channel. WKYT is also home to Kentucky’s longest running and most respected weekly public affairs program.
INVESTIGATING PROBLEMS: Throughout 2017 in regular news coverage and during special programming, WKYT spotlighted and investigated the growing problem of drug addiction in Kentucky. From a heroin epidemic to newer drugs with deadly consequences, coverage went beyond statistics to put real faces with what’s described as one of the greatest challenges facing the state. To shine an even greater spotlight on the issue, the 30-minute program “WKYT Investigates | State of Addiction” took an in-depth look at Kentucky’s drug crisis.
SPOTLIGHTING HISTORIC CHANGES: As the nation’s attention turned to the violence that erupted as Charlottesville, Virginia relocated Confederate statues, Lexington’s mayor announced plans to do the same. The decision sparked fierce debate, fears of similar violent protests, and the swift removal of the statues a month later which culminated with live, team coverage from the historic decision.
TACKLING A POLITICAL DIVIDE: In a year marked by a divisiveness in Washington, politics and the direction of the country took center stage. When President Donald Trump took the oath of office, WKYT anchor Sam Dick was there to showcase how Kentuckians are reacting to his historic election. Washington wasn’t the only capital of political debate. On the eve of the President’s first address to Congress, WKYT’s Bill Bryant was among a select group of local television news reporters invited to the White House to talk with him before the speech. When a sexual harassment scandal involving the speaker of Kentucky’s house of representatives, WKYT chronicled how the case divided politicians and the voters who elected them. In the only weekly public affairs program in the state, WKYT’s “Kentucky Newsmakers” included insightful discussions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, and other notable Kentuckians who realize the program is the state’s premiere spot to talk politics and about important issues. Through an unsurpassed commitment to coverage, WKYT looked at the issues that divided Kentuckians and their impact.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: To help Hurricane Harvey victims, WKYT joined forces with the University of Kentucky basketball team for the “Teaming Up For Texas” telethon that raised more than $1 million for the American Red Cross relief effort. Before and after the telethon that aired statewide, WKYT went to Texas to show Kentuckians how their money can help those impacted by the hurricane. When a series of shootings involving teenagers sparked outcry, WKYT look an in-depth look at why many of the city’s youth are turning to lives of crime and arming themselves with guns.
REINVENTING COVERAGE: As technology evolves, so does how WKYT gathers news. While our team of reporters and photographers utilize the latest generation of cameras and laptop editors, the ability to use their phones for newsgathering and even live shots proves to be a great tool. Our anchors have even embraced the ability to use their phones to shoot entire packages that don’t sacrifice quality but give us maximum flexibility. With the only local newscast at 6:30 p.m., WKYT looked at how a newscast could build a engaged, younger audience by hyper local focused coverage; content presented in a more conversational format; segments designed to bring more context and perspective to the day’s news; and the incorporation of social media live on the air.
ENGAGING VIEWERS:To take digital content to the next level, WKYT continued its mission to deliver interactive storytelling through graphics and 360-degree photography on its website. In 2017, the WKYT FirstAlert Weather team’s Weather Watcher program engaged viewers to work hand-in-hand with them to provide weather condition updates from all over Kentucky. By being part of the team of WKYT Weather Watchers, viewers share real-time weather information and images, are part of events designed to teach our Weather Watchers about meteorology, and gave them the opportunity to better know the WKYT FirstAlert Weather team.
LEADING IN SOCIAL MEDIA: Embracing the impact of social media, the explosive growth of digital sources for information, and the challenge of how to differentiate itself from competitors, WKYT continued to evolve its delivery of news and information in 2017. During breaking news and other coverage, the impact of engaging directly with our viewers through social media is powerful. Through coverage exclusively on Facebook Live or done simultaneously on air, WKYT’s anchor and reporters are able to answer viewers’ questions in real time and share with their perspectives with others.