Scajaquada Creek coverage honored

Investigative Reporters & Editors has cited Investigative Post and WGRZ for their coverage of the sorry state of Scajaquada Creek.

IRE, the world’s leading professional organization of investigative journalists, recognized the Scajaquada Creek coverage in announcing the winners of its annual reporting awards.  The Scajaquada Creek coverage was listed as one of three finalists for multi-platform reporting in the small market category.

The competition involved more than 550 entries from news organizations that include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ProPublica, Frontline and CNN. IRE handed out first-place awards in 14 categories and recognized 51 finalists.

The entry by Investigative Post and WGRZ  was the only one selected as a winner or finalist from a news outlet in upstate New York.

Investigative Post was one of a half-dozen non-profit investigative reporting centers from across the nation whose work was cited as a winner or finalist by IRE.

“This is a gratifying recognition for the type of high-quality, high-impact reporting we’re doing at Investigative Post, in partnership with WGRZ,” said Editor Jim Heaney.

“We are proud to share this honor with Investigative Post,” said WGRZ News Director Jeff Woodard.

“Our partnership is providing high-quality, impactful investigative reporting for Buffalo and Western New York. It is gratifying to be on the same level with some of the largest investigative teams in the country,” he said.

The stories were reported by Dan Telvock, environmental reporter for Investigative Post. His work is funded in part by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Television versions of the stories were shot and edited by photojournalists Franco Ardito and Andy DeSantis of WGRZ. Heaney and Athan Kompos, executive producer with WGRZ, supervised the stories.

As reported by Investigative Post and WGRZ, the City of Buffalo and Town of Cheektowaga dump 500 million gallons of sewage mixed with stormwater runoff into Scajaquada Creek annually. As a result, sludge up to five feet deep lines some sections of the creek and the water is contaminated with fecal bacteria and avian botulism.

Telvock’s story on July 17 first triggered revulsion by two state senators and later promoted officials to act. Cheektowaga has come up with the plan to stem the flow of sewage and runoff along its portion of the creek and state officials have pledged to help identify funding to pay for the work. Buffalo, meanwhile, is proceeding on several fronts to prevent raw sewage from getting into the creek.

Print versions of the main stories were also published in Artvoice.

Investigative Post’s model, which involves partnering with other news organizations to produce and distribute stories in multiple platforms, is part of national trend.

“Journalists are finding inventive ways to tell stories on multiple platforms and collaborating with other media outlets to produce ambitious projects for a variety of audiences,” said Ziva Branstetter, chairperson of the IRE Contest Committee.

Investigative Post is 501 (c)(3) non-profit that began operation in February 2012. It has a two-fold mission: produce investigative and analytical stories on topics of importance to the citizens of Buffalo and Western New York, and train young journalists in public service reporting.

Investigative Post’s work has previously been recognized by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association.