(WXYZ) - The WXYZ-TV investigators were presented with the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, regarded as the highest award in broadcast journalism, at Columbia University in New York City on Tuesday evening.
The ceremony was hosted by Christiane Amanpour of ABC News/CNN and Byron Pitts of CBS News.
WXYZ-TV won the award for its years-long investigative series: "Wayne County Confidential: Government Run Amok."
7 Action News Investigators Heather Catallo and Ross Jones broke the story of former Wayne County Economic Development Director Turkia Mullin's secret $200,000 severance package. Their investigations also revealed other secret severance deals, a political machine fueled with county resources and global travel for county officials funded by secret donors.
The 7 Action News Investigator's reports led to an FBI investigation, a series of indictments, criminal charges, resignations, firings and stronger ethic rules.
Also honored for their work on the series were editor Randy Lundquist and photographers Ramon Rosario and Johnny Sartin. Ann Mullen is the executive producer of WXYZ's investigative unit.
"The duPont-Columbia award recognizes the very best in broadcast journalism," said Ed Fernandez, E.W. Scripps divisional vice-president and WXYZ vice-president and general manager. "WXYZ is honored to receive this award for upholding the highest journalism standards as we serve our community."
"This award is a testament to the journalistic commitment of WXYZ and its news team to hold our leaders accountable and to take action in the public's interest," said 7 Action News Director Tim Dye. "It is evidence that the true mission of great journalism is to be a catalyst for change."
Each year, approximately a dozen news stories are honored by the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Awards for their reporting, storytelling, and impact in the public interest. The fourteen winning pieces for 2012 were selected by the duPont jury from hundreds of entries vetted by a board of screeners.
This is the second time WXYZ has received the coveted duPont-Columbia Award. The first was in 1996 for "Target 7: Michigan's Secret Soldiers."
The duPont-Columbia Award caps off an award-winning year for WXYZ. Honors in 2012 include "Station of the Year from from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters ( MAB), General Excellence Award from the Associate Press (AP), Station Excellence Award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS – Emmys).