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WISN-TV was recognized for its coverage of the shooting at Children's Hospital with first place honors at the WBA awards.

WITI earns station and news operation of the year honors

Recognition for a job well done is something most of us strive for. In the mass media world, it is no different.

Recently, a number of stations participated in and were awarded for their news work with Murrow awards. Last weekend, television and radio professionals gathered to recognize the best efforts of 2013 with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

In the large market category – basically the Milwaukee market – WITI-TV Fox 6 was named the Television Station of the Year and the News Operation of the Year.

"I am very proud of the entire staff," said John LaPorte, the vice president for news at the station. "They know how much news matters to our viewers – they work very hard every day to serve them."

WITI took home 24 honors, including 12 first place entries, in the annual awards of excellence. First-place awards were given for best news writing, best series or documentary, best live on-scene reporting, best use of news video, best hard news/investigative, best feature, best continuing coverage, best sports reporting, best sportscast, best use of sports video, best editorial/commentary and best weathercast.

"It is great to have the results of that hard work recognized by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association," LaPorte said. "I am very blessed to work with such a great group of journalists and broadcasters."

For WISN-TV Ch. 12, the ABC affiliate earned five first place awards. Two – for best niche site and best special web project – awards were given for the A-List. The directory and on-air awards allow businesses in the area to promote their goods and services in a format where the community chooses the winner.

WISN earned first place awards for best spot news and best evening newscast following the events around the shooting at Children's Hospital.

"The Children's Hospital shooting also opened up bigger safety questions," said Chris Gegg, WISN news director. "Our news team went beyond the headlines and asked tough questions. I'm proud of their ongoing commitment to excellence. It's a privilege to lead this group of journalists."

Nick Bohr, and his investigation on the Golden Guernsey Dairy closure, uncovered thousands of gallons of milk and other products going to waste. Working with the Hunger Task Force, the coverage of the story helped in getting eight truckloads of goods get to people who could really use it. The effort won the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association award for best community impact.

"Local news is all about community impact, so to win this category is a very rewarding feeling," said Jan Wade, the station's president and general manager. "As broadcasters, we have the responsibility to bring attention to stories like the Golden Guernsey closing. Being advocates for our viewers is something that we take very seriously."

Being recognized by one's peers is always nice, but for those who are part of these operations, know there is more to the work than something hung on the wall. The energy of a working station, knowing it is doing everything it can to deliver information in breaking news, is electric and addicting.

"It is our mission to deliver timely, relevant news, something that takes tremendous teamwork during breaking news situations," Wade said.

"I am proud of each and every member of the WISN 12 team."

WTMJ-TV took first place awards for morning newscast, commercial and live remote reporting. WDJT-TV CBS 58 was recognized for specialty programming, promotional announcement and innovation for the TouchVision sub-tier channel launched last year.

You can find the complete list of winners across Wisconsin in the PDF here.

A number of area radio outlets took home first place awards as well. Leading the pack was WTMJ-AM 620 with best sportscast, best radio shows for Gene Mueller and John Mercure, best spot news, feature, use of audio, live reporting, continuing coverage and humorous and client commercials.

889 Radio Milwaukee had a big night at the WBA awards as well, find the details here.

Being a WBA winner myself in the past, I truly understand how it feels to earn such an honor. But, in the big picture of what matters, the awards are just a very small part. The deep connection with the community will always standout as being the most important thing a broadcaster could ever achieve.

"For me personally, winning these awards reminds me that it's an honor to be working with such talented staff in every department of the station … they have a relentless work ethic and every day they live up to our brand of understanding that it's the viewers and our community that matter," said Chuck Steinmetz, the president and general manager at WITI-TV.

"None of them walk in the door at the beginning of the day to win an award - but to be recognized by your peers certainly means something and I think they should all be proud of that."

I brought up ratings, because on the business side, it is the dollars made by the bottom line that makes everything else possible.

"In the end, awards don't assure you ratings," he said.

"As you know, ratings are a result of hard work, being a part of and understanding our community, and gaining the trust of our viewers. So in the end, those are the things that matter."


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