On Tuesday night, January 19, 2016, six WRAL-TV staffers had the evening of a lifetime accepting one of the most prestigious prizes in journalism. The group won The Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for the WRAL documentary “The Journey Alone” about the surge in illegal immigration of unaccompanied minors from Mexico.
The group included WRAL-TV Reporter Leyla Santiago and Photojournalist Zac Gooch who traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, where more than 52,000 children crossed the border alone. The journalists traced the path of the children and investigated how the crisis impacted North Carolina.
The rest of the team included WRAL-TV Assistant New Director Aysu Basaran who served as Executive Director on the project, WRAL.com Special Projects Producer Kelly Hinchcliffe who served as web editor, WRAL-TV News Director Rick Gall and WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steve Hammel.
“What an incredible experience!” said Basaran of the evening. “We were introduced by Tom Brokaw in the company of journalists such as Scott Pelley and Diane Sawyer. It was truly one if the most memorable nights of my career. I’m so proud of our entire team, especially Leyla and Zac, and thankful to work in a newsroom willing to take on these projects.”
Santiago accepted the honor from Brokaw, speaking on behalf of WRAL-TV.
“When Zac and I went down to the border, we went there looking for a moment, that of course, was not guaranteed, but it came. It came several times,” said Santiago in her acceptance speech. “We watched as children from Central America crossed that border without a single parent by their side.”
She said the story is one that is still developing.
“We are so honored to receive this award today, and I’m so grateful to work for a local news station that understood then and understands now that this is not another national story on the border, but this is a story that impacts every single state, certainly impacts North Carolina,” she said. “And it’s is a story that we will continue to tell.”
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Leyla Santiago for these capcom photos.
Read WRAL.com’s report on the award below:
NEW YORK — WRAL News was presented with The Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in journalism, Tuesday night in New York.
The honor, which is presented by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, was for the documentary “The Journey Alone” about the surge in illegal immigration of unaccompanied minors from Mexico.
For the documentary, WRAL News reporter Leyla Santiago and photojournalist Zac Gooch traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, where more than 52,000 children crossed the border alone. The journalists traced the path of the children and investigated how the crisis impacted North Carolina.
According to the award announcement, “The program is well-shot and well-paced, and expertly tackled a humanitarian and political issue of both national and local importance.”
“We knew this was a building, national story that had significant implications for North Carolina,” said WRAL News Director Rick Gall. “Leyla and Zac did an amazing job in Texas and back here, capturing the many layers and perspectives surrounding children crossing alone into the U.S.”
“At the core of what we do is to inform, enlighten and educate our viewers,” said WRAL-TV Vice President and General Manager Steve Hammel. “I am pleased the judges recognized the excellent journalism of our team. Our viewers expect this quality and we strive to deliver it daily.”
Santiago spoke at the event and accepted the award along with a contingent of other WRAL staff members, including Hammel.
“This is a story that impacts every state, certainly impacts North Carolina, and it’s a story that we will continue to tell,” said Santiago as she accepted the award.
WRAL staffers also credited for the award include: WRAL.com reporter Kelly Hinchcliffe, WRAL News Director Rick Gall, WRAL Assistant News Director Aysu Basaran and graphic artist Steve Loyd.