Sinclair's “Project Baltimore” Wins Prestigious Society of Professional Journalists National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting
WBFF/Fox45’s Investigative Unit Exposes Flaws in Baltimore Public School System, Denying Students with Disabilities a Proper Education
Baltimore, MD – June 20, 2023 – Sinclair is pleased to announce Project Baltimore, the special investigative reporting unit of WBFF/Fox 45 News, was honored with a Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) National Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting (TV, all markets) for its series 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.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards were established in 1932 and recognize the best in professional journalism in categories covering print/online, audio and television. This is the second time SPJ has awarded Project Baltimore with a Sigma Delta Chi award.
Commenting on the honor, Scott Livingston, Senior Vice President of News said, “Project Baltimore and its investigative reporting continue to be honored with the most prestigious awards in journalism and we are incredibly proud of the team’s hard work. Sinclair is committed to impactful reporting with a local focus and driving positive change within our communities is at the core of what we do in our newsrooms and our content centers. We are honored 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.
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.
“We were disheartened when the first student’s mother came forward,” said Carolyn Peirce, Executive Producer of Project Baltimore. “And when we discovered there were more children suffering the same circumstances, missing out on their education while their records were falsified, we knew this story would resonate with our viewers and have a significant impact in the community.”
Earlier this year, “Disabled & Denied” was honored with an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) awarded for the series.
Since its creation in 2017, Project Baltimore’s investigative work has been recognized with dozens of honors, including four first place National Headliner Awards, 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 nearly 30 Regional Emmy Awards, 7 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and 9 Associated Press Awards.
Sinclair, 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.