APR civil rights coverage wins national award

Jun 12, 2014

The Radio Television Digital News Association today named Alabama Public Radio the winner of RTDNA’s national UNITY award for outstanding coverage of diversity. The honor is for APR’s year-long observance of the 50th anniversary of key moments during the civil rights movement in Alabama. During 2013, each member of the news team contributed in-depth stories leading to this national honor. RTDNA names only two or three UNITY award winners for radio each year.

“I’m so proud of the team,” says APR news director Pat Duggins. “This coverage was the result of hard work and inspiration, with everyone contributing ideas and working the extra hours needed to do it justice. The newsroom and I are very grateful for this generous recognition from our industry.”

Among the 17 features was reporter Ryan Vasquez’ three part series on how the Birmingham area press failed to cover civil rights events. Reporter Stan Ingold produced a separate series on how cities around Alabama are vying to become the center of civil rights tourism. And, Duggins produced the half-hour documentary “Civil Rights Radio” on the 1963 segregation protest called the “children’s march.”

"Alabama Public Radio’s civil rights coverage was part of the University of Alabama’s year-long series of activities and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door," says CPT & R Director Elizabeth Brock. "We are honored that APR’s part in “Through the Doors,” was recognized by RTNDA and colleagues throughout the country. All that we do is made possible by the generosity of our listeners and the University.”

According to RTDNA’s website, The UNITY award is part of the covenant the Association has adopted to achieve diversity in the newsroom through developing news content and editorial staffs that reflect the changing face of communities. The purpose of the award is to encourage and showcase journalistic excellence in covering issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. "When we established the RTDNA/UNITY Awards, our hope was to encourage newsrooms to tell stories that inform, educate and inspire," said RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender. "Audiences are the ultimate winners because these stories are being told." The UNITY award is presented annually to news organizations that show an ongoing commitment to covering the diversities of the communities they serve.

Previous winners of the Unity Award include CNN, ESPN, and PBS. This year’s awards will be presented in October in New York City. This year APR has also been honored with a national Gabriel award, a national Headliner award, and five regional Edward R. Murrow awards, among others.