The Associated Press will recognize WBUR on Friday, March 31, for excellence in reporting and use of sound at its 2006 Regional Awards, honoring journalism throughout New England.
In the large market category for radio news reporting, the AP chose three WBUR stories as award winners:
• Health Care Disparities, reported by Martha Bebinger, for enterprise reporting (click here to listen);
• Harry Potter in Braille, reported by Monica Brady-Myerov, for feature reporting (click here to listen); and
• Shakespeare Festival, a story about a Shakespeare program for high school students, reported and engineered by Sean Cole, for best use of sound (click here to listen).
Bebinger’s winning series on health-care disparities touches on academic, scientific, and social issues and features a play centered on fictional
congressional testimony from forgotten members of society. Reporting the series was a reminder, Bebinger says, of how hard it is for people to talk about race. “Conversations quickly got tense,” she says, “not hostile, but uncomfortable.”
Brady-Myerov says that when she heard that the latest Harry Potter book would be available in Braille at the same time as the regularly published release, she wanted to learn, “What does that mean to people?” To do that, she interviewed several students at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown. “The way they spoke about reading is what made that story,” she says.
In an unusual move, Brady-Myerov decided to leave in her reaction to something that a blind student said during an interview. When the student
told her that she enjoyed reading Harry Potter with the lights off, the reporter was admittedly shocked. “It seemed natural when I was writing it to leave it in,” she says. “I think that’s how a listener might have reacted, and those are the moments you don’t hear often enough on radio.”
Also unusual was reporter Sean Cole’s decision to take his voice out of his piece on Shakespeare & Company’s Fall Festival of Shakespeare for high school students and allow it to be narrated by the festival’s education director, Kevin Coleman. “I was stunned by how good he was at making the case for why this festival is important,” Cole says. Cole condensed 12 hours of tape into a 9-minute segment to tell the story.
WBUR news director John Davidow is “pleased and honored” by the AP awards, he says, especially since they are in the categories of feature and enterprise reporting and use of sound.
“Those are all the things that make up the qualities our listeners look for in our coverage,” he says. “These categories are representative of the fine work that we do.”
The awards presentation will include the announcement of the Station of the Year winner, an award WBUR has won three times since 2000.