Louisiana Purchased (WVUE-TV, New Orleans, and NOLA.com)
In their exhaustive investigation of campaign finance in the Pelican state, WVUE-TV and NOLA.com revealed illegal activities, dubious practices and feeble ethics enforcement. The New Orleans TV station and the website, an arm of the Times-Picayune newspaper, devoted thousands of employee hours to sifting through almost a million campaign documents to figure out who gave how much to whom and what they got in return. One revelation was that nearly a third of the $209 million pumped into Louisiana campaigns between 2009 and 2012 came from less than one percent of the donors. What made Louisiana Purchased stand out even more, however, is the verve with which it was reported. The graphics, starting with the series’ logo, a bar-coded Louisiana map, are imaginative, even amusing, and on target. So is the writing. “If money drives politics,” WVUE reporter Lee Zurik says early on, “we’re about to show you who’s riding shotgun.” Other news organizations would do well to emulate the project’s methods – not just its commitment but its attitude. For its diligent, unusually accessible exposé of a state’s labyrinthine campaign-finance system, Louisiana Purchased receives a Peabody Award.
Executive Producers: Mikel Schaefer, Greg Phillips, Tim Morris. Producer: Tom Wright. Director: E.Q. Vance. Chief Investigative Reporter/Producer: Lee Zurik. Reporters: Manuel Torres, Lauren McGaughy. Photographer/Editor: Jon Turnipseed. Interactive Manager: Wes Cook. Photographer: Ted Jackson. Graphic Artist: Dan Swenson. Content Data Analyst: Dmitriy Pritykin.
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