The work was honored this fall with the top award for topical reporting in the small newsroom category in the Online Journalism Awards competition sponsored by the Online News Association.
The ONA is the world’s largest association of digital journalists. This year’s contest received 1,100 entries in 13 categories from journalists all over the world.
“Contest entrants included major players, such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN, Al Jazeera–English, and dozens of other media outlets from all across the USA and Europe,” WUOT Director Regina Dean said. “Finalists included other NPR stations from large stations in big markets like Boston, Dallas, San Francisco, Denver, and Oregon Public Broadcasting.”
Former WUOT News Director Matt Shafer Powell and independent producer Jess Mador, led the nine-month TruckBeat project in cooperation with the Association of Independents in Radio.
TruckBeat produced multimedia stories capturing the reality of health disparities between rural and urban East Tennessee while developing new ties to surrounding communities. The project’s reporting explored what Charlene Hipsher from the Roane County District Attorney General’s Office calls “an epidemic to opiates that has affected just about every living room in this community.”
In announcing the award for TruckBeat, contest officials said, “At a time when many Americans do not feel like the media is listening to them, the judges were impressed by this crowd-sourced project that runs counter to that notion.”
Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is qualified by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is an NPR member station and an affiliate of Public Radio International and American Public Media. The station’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news, and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. The station broadcasts around the clock and streams on the web. WUOT’s second audio channel, WUOT-2, is available on HD Radio, internet radio, and the web.