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Nate Morabito’s investigative report, ‘Injustice in the Valley’, receives high recognition

Tri-Cities TN-VA April 5, 2017: News Channel 11 is very proud of our investigative team for setting high standards and achieving high honors, even among our peers. Every day, they work hard – digging deeper than the surface to find answers – with cameras in hand.

Recently, Community Watchdog Nate Morabito and photographers Phillip Murrell and Chris Greer were the finalists for the best investigative report in the Investigative Reporter’s and Editor’s (IRE) category “Broadcast/Video – Small Market 25+”.

Our entry was a story that focused on abuse cases at Greene Valley Developmental Center, Tennessee’s last state-run facility for people with intellectual disabilities. The story uncovered under reporting by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In addition, it exposed a lack of proper investigation by local police. The story took five months and relied on hundreds of pages of public records. Parts of the story continued months after the original report.

Ultimately our reporting prompted two criminal investigations, the arrest and prosecution of a former employee for abuse, and a change in the neglect reporting protocol in Tennessee’s Third Judicial District.

To put this into perspective, our investigative team competed in the same category as the very elite of investigative reporters from markets like Baltimore, San Diego and Nashville. This year’s winners and finalists were selected from among more than 480 entries, according to the IRE.

IRE award recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year (2016). The winner in the category was “Medical Waste” by WVUE-New Orleans. Other finalist with News Channel 11included:

  • “Charity Caught on Camera,” WTHR Indianapolis, Bob Segall, Bill Ditton, Cyndee Hebert, Susan Batt, Scott Hums.
  • “Making the Grade,” WTVF Nashville, Phil Williams, Bryan Staples, Kevin Wisniewski.

“As journalists, our highest calling is to identify problems and shine a light on them to get them solved.     Nate, Phillip and Chris come to work daily with that as their goal, and I’m proud that they are being recognized among their peers for their hard work.” Said News Director Jennifer Dale.


About WJHL

WJHL is the oldest television station in the Tri-Cities area, broadcasting for over 60 years. In February of 2016 WJHL added ABC to its secondary digital broadcast channel making it one of only a handful of stations nationwide to support two major affiliates. Providing viewers with over 40 hours of local news coverage every week news channel eleven has proven itself as the regions authority on investigative news coverage on both stations. Complete coverage of ongoing stories is also available on 24 hours a day.