WLNS-TV has been honored with two regional Murrow awards. The awards, sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) are among the more prestigious in the world of journalism.
6 News won the award for Best Feature for Love, Loss, and the Gift of Life. The story, which ran in June, documented the story of a family of three who were hit by a drunk driver.
Mother and wife Dana LaHaie died at the scene. Husband and father Ryan survived, but was in a coma. That left the grandparents to make the decision to donate the organs of 3-year-old Reed LaHaie, who survived the initial crash but did not show any brain function afterwards. His organs went to three people and his tissue donations could help others in the future.
The story elicited an outpouring of emotion in mid-Michigan where the accident happened, in west Michigan, where the LaHaies are from, and across the nation, as the story was shared with other stations.
The story was put together by anchor Chivon Kloepfer, chief photographer Dave Parks, and photographer Blair Nelson.
The award is Kloepfer’s second and Parks’ fourth.
The story has also been honored by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Associated Press (Michigan), and Gift of Life Michigan, which runs the state’s organ donation program.
The station won another award for Excellence in Innovation for the Safety Day Giveaway. The effort begins with a week-long series about home safety issues, and is followed up by a giveaway.
Anchors and staff from the station handed out 700 smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors and other safety items at two events in Lansing and Jackson in November. With the help of local sheriff’s departments, the sites also served as drug drop off locations to help fight the opioid epidemic.
6 News has now won the regional Excellence in Innovation award for two years in a row. The station won for its 2018 efforts by documenting the effects of legalizing marijuana by collecting stories from other states that had already legalized it.
WLNS has now won 9 regional Murrows in the last five years.
For the regional Murrow, the station beat out stations in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. WLNS competed against similar size markets, which are measured by the number of potential viewers.
The two entries by 6 News now go up against the winners from other regions for the national Murrow award. The winners of the national awards should be announced in June.