Sinclair’s “Project Baltimore” Wins Prestigious IRE Award
WBFF/Fox45’s Investigative Unit Exposes Flaws in Baltimore Public School System, Denying Students with Disabilities a Proper Education
Fifth Consecutive IRE Awarded to Sinclair, Fourth IRE Award for WBFF
WKRC in Cincinnati Named a Finalist
Sinclair is pleased to announce Project Baltimore, the special investigative reporting unit of WBFF/Fox 45 News, was honored by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) for its reporting on Baltimore’s public school system, exposing how Baltimore City Schools denied students with disabilities a proper education, and in doing so, violated their federal education rights.
This is the fourth time Project Baltimore has been honored with an IRE Award, and the fifth consecutive year a Sinclair newsroom is being honored.
In addition, WKRC in Cincinnati was an IRE finalist for their investigation into a uranium enrichment plant in Southern Ohio and the radioactive contamination, cancer and deaths in the communities that surround it.
Established in 1979, the annual IRE Awards recognize outstanding investigative reporting from newsrooms across the globe, with contest entries screened and judged by IRE members who are working journalists.
Commenting on the honor, Scott Livingston, Senior Vice President of News said, “Being honored by our peers reinforces Sinclair’s commitment to impactful reporting with a local focus and driving positive change within our communities. Asking questions, digging deeper, holding officials accountable and being a voice for the voiceless members of our community is at the core of what we do in our content centers, and we are proud our work continues to be recognized.”
In “Disabled & Denied” Project Baltimore shed light on the failures of the education system, exposing how Baltimore City Schools denied students with disabilities a proper education, and in doing so, violated their federal education rights.
A Baltimore City mother, Latasha Phillips, came forward with allegations of school misconduct. Her son, Qwantay Spearman, missed the first 140 days of school at a west Baltimore high school, because the district could not provide him with a nurse. Due to a medical condition, Qwantay is required to have a nurse under his federally mandated Individualized Education Program (IEP). Despite missing 140 days of school, Qwantay’s report card showed he was marked present 33.5 days in the first quarter and earned grades for classes he had not attended. After the initial story aired, several additional families came forward.
In awarding Project Baltimore, the IRE judges commented, “The team exposed multiple examples of outright corruption, with contractors and the school system both stealing money by falsifying reports, all while hurting kids in the process. The stories combined touching personal narratives with dogged reporting and showed the profound impact that can come from sticking with a story.”
This series resulted in multiple state-level investigations, which found City Schools violated the rights of four students. The state also mandated the district develop plans to better educate all students with disabilities or risk losing funding.
“The families who come to us are desperate for help, and often feel like they are powerless to make change,” said Carolyn Peirce, Executive Producer of Project Baltimore. “We are thankful they trust us to share their stories, and we remain committed to shedding light on their experiences, in hopes of driving out corruption and creating a better future for Baltimore City students.”
Since its creation in 2017, Project Baltimore’s investigative work has been recognized with dozens of honors, including four first place National Headliner Awards, the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award, a National Press Photographers Association First Place award, and four prestigious IRE Awards. Additionally, Project Baltimore has been named an Alfred I. duPont finalist and won dozens of Regional Emmy Awards, six Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and seven Associated Press Awards.
In addition, WKRC in Cincinnati was named a finalist in the IRE Competition for their investigative series, “Fallout,” detailing the connection between the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) a massive uranium enrichment plant in Southern Ohio and radioactive contamination, cancer and deaths in the surrounding Appalachian communities.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is a diversified media company and a leading provider of local news and sports. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 185 television stations in 86 markets affiliated with all the major broadcast networks; owns Tennis Channel and multicast networks Comet, CHARGE! and TBD; and owns and provides services to 21 regional sports network brands. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and the nation’s largest streaming aggregator of local news content, NewsON. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.