Quite a feather in their Knapp sack.
Investigative reporter George Knapp and photojournalist Matt Adams have brought home the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for KLAS-TV, Channel 8 for their I-Team special, “Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics,” an examination of how Las Vegas growth would impact large portions of the Southwest.
“We’re thrilled with it,” Knapp said Wednesday. “There is nothing higher than this in broadcast journalism; and we’re in pretty elite company, along with ’60 Minutes,’ HBO’s documentary unit, even ‘Saturday Night Live’ for their political commentary. I really appreciate the support the station has given me.”
Among other winners announced Wednesday of the 68th annual Peabody Awards, an international award for excellence in television and radio, were ABC’s “Lost,” HBO’s documentary “The Gates” and miniseries “John Adams,” NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, PBS’ “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill” and CNN’s coverage of the presidential primaries.
“There are not many local TV stations that win these, and it validates what we’re trying to do with the I-Team,” said Channel 8 news director Ron Comings.
“Not many stations maintain an investigative unit and not the size of ours. I’ve been urging George to enter his work in these national awards, and he finally said he would. The quality of his investigative work is so good that I said, ‘You have to go after it.’ “
Peabody judges called the “Crossfire” special “network quality” and added that it was “a brave, meticulous examination of a plan to pump massive amounts of water from rural Nevada to booming Sin City and the potential consequences for ranchers, farmers, Native Americans and the environment.”
Channel 8 photojournalist Alex Brauer and producer Ian Russell also contributed to the piece, which aired March 22 and April 20 of last year.
The special had been in the works for three years.
“We started working on water issues in the mid-Nineties, during a period of relentless, unprecedented growth. It was go, go, go for 20 years; but when the drought came in, we stayed with it, collecting information,” said Knapp, also a columnist for Las Vegas CityLife, a sister publication to the Review-Journal. “There is so much at stake, but no one paid attention because it’s so complicated. But it involves primal forces of nature — growth, quality of life — not only for people in the valley, but the ranchers and the people who have chosen a different kind of life. Those people don’t have a voice in it.”
Knapp and Adams will join other Peabody winners at the May 18 awards ceremony, hosted by NBC’s Brian Williams in New York City.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at email@example.com or 702-383-0256.