WKBW-TV investigative reporter Charlie Specht and photojournalist Jeff Wick have won their most impressive award for their coverage of the crisis in the Buffalo Diocese that led to the departure of Bishop Richard J. Malone.
They were among the 16 winners of the 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards announced Tuesday.
The awards are considered the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, which are awarded in several categories, including newspaper journalism, drama, poetry, literature, photography and musical composition.
Specht and Wick’s previous awards for the coverage of the crisis in the Diocese include a 2019 Edward R. Murrow Award in investigative reporting; a 2018 first-place public service award from the New York State Association Press Association; and a 2018 Investigative Reporters & Editors broadcasting honor.
Here’s what the duPont announcement said about the honor for Specht and Wick, the photojournalist who recently left WKBW to work for Newsy, a news network in Washington, D.C., owned by WKBW’s owner, the E. W. Scripps Company:
“The searing compilation of investigative reports took clergy sex abuse and cover-up by the Catholic Church, and revealed hidden, long-standing problems within the diocese in Buffalo, N.Y. Just last week, on December 4. the Bishop there resigned.
"Sexual abuse at home and abroad was brought to light by three honorees: In WKBW-TV’s “Fall from Grace,” one dogged local reporter revealed a cover-up of clergy sex abuse by the Catholic diocese in Buffalo. After the series of reports aired, on December 4, the Bishop in Buffalo resigned. Michigan Radio and NPR’s riveting podcast “Believed” profiled a team of women who won a conviction in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history. And POV’s “The Apology” offered a compelling exploration of the decades-long fight for justice still ongoing for 'comfort women' enslaved by Japanese troops during World War II.
“That three separate reports on sexual abuse would win in one year is significant,” said duPont-Columbia Director Lisa R. Cohen in a release. “The wide range of coverage – local, national and international – on a topic so long hidden from view tells us we are truly in the midst of a reckoning.”
Specht, a former Buffalo News reporter, and Wick are in prestigious company. Other duPont winners include MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow; the PBS series, “Frontline” and “POV”; the PBS NewsHour; “60 Minutes”; CNN; and Netflix.
The winners will be awarded their Silver Batons Jan. 21 at Low Memorial Library at Columbia in New York City in a ceremony hosted by CNN and PBS's Christiane Amanpour and Michael Barbaro, host of The New York Times news podcast, The Daily.
Founded in 1942, the duPont-Columbia Awards were founded to “uphold the highest standards in journalism by honoring winners annually, informing the public about those journalists' contributions and supporting journalism education and innovation.”