WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has received top industry honors from a national journalism organization.
Investigative Reporters and Editors today named KyCIR’s “Jailers Without Jails” series the winner of its an annual award for radio investigative journalism.
A different KyCIR series, which examined deaths in Kentucky jails, was also named a finalist in IRE’s “small market” radio category.
The IRE awards recognize the best in investigative reporting by print, broadcast and online media.
The awards judges commented on the award-winning series: “The project stood out for the thorough data-driven reporting and the way its engaging interviews made for good radio.”
KyCIR’s R.G. Dunlop and WFPL’s Jacob Ryan collaborated on the investigative report, which aired in January 2015. The duo revealed that more than a third of Kentucky’s counties have no jails, yet all 41 of these counties have elected jailers. The investigation examined a nepotism-laced, but little-discussed, jailers system that costs Kentucky taxpayers approximately $2 million annually. (Read “Only In Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails”)
The reporting prompted several calls for reforms. A state lawmaker filed a bill that calls for more oversight of the no-jail jailers. That legislation passed the Senate but is awaiting consideration in the House. The Kentucky Jailers Association has acknowledged the need for reforms, but has been mum about any such changes.
Dunlop, who specializes in criminal justice and government issues, has reported for KyCIR since its inception in late 2013. Ryan interned at WFPL and was hired in 2014. He covers Metro affairs.
Dunlop’s series of reports on Kentucky jail deaths was also named an IRE award finalist. His “Trouble Behind Bars” series found preventable deaths that provoked little to no follow-up, as well as failures at all levels of government. Not even the state Department of Corrections had a true, accurate and updated accounting of who died in county jails.
The awards will be presented at IRE’s annual conference in June.