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Open and Shut, the Wisconsin Watch/WPR investigative podcast about the power of prosecutors, has won regional honors from the Edward R. Murrow Awards. Open and Shut took first place in the large radio market for best podcast.
The Radio Television Digital News Association announced the Region 4 winners Thursday. Region 4 comprises Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Regional winners automatically advance to the national competition, winners of which will be announced in August.
The Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of broadcast and digital journalism.
Murrow Awards are presented to news organizations, not individuals. All awards are presented based on the specific body of work submitted.
Open and Shut exposes the gaps in the U.S. justice system that allow prosecutors, its most powerful actors, to use their nearly unchecked authority to win questionable cases, convict the innocent and pervert the pursuit of justice. The podcast was inspired by reporting spanning 20 years on how a pair of Wisconsin prosecutors misused their authority with tragic consequences.
The podcast launched in April 2022 featuring two district attorneys, Vince Biskupic and Joe Paulus, who had a close personal and professional relationship during their tenure as politically ambitious prosecutors in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley. The podcast was part of the NEW News Lab, a collaboration of six news outlets, including Wisconsin Watch and WPR, producing journalism focused on Northeast Wisconsin.
Open and Shut also is a national finalist in the American Bar Association’s 2023 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts. Wisconsin Watch reporter Phoebe Petrovic and freelance producer Nina Earnest also are finalists for the Livingston Awards, which recognize the nation’s top early-career journalists under age 35. And Open and Shut is a finalist for best original podcast from the Milwaukee Press Club.
“This three-years-in-the-making project demonstrates the power of collaboration and persistence,” Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall said. “We are grateful that the depth of reporting and the richness of storytelling in Open and Shut are receiving national and regional recognition.”
Wisconsin Watch’s team on the podcast included Petrovic, who served as reporter, host and producer; producer Earnest; reporter and digital story editor Hall; editor Karen Given; production assistants Enjoyiana Nururdin and Clare Amari; and Coburn Dukehart, digital project manager and Wisconsin Watch’s associate director.
The WPR team included digital editors Alyssa Allemand and David Hyland; technical director Brad Kolberg; music director Karl Christenson; art director John Thomas Nichols; marketing specialist Angela Woodward; and digital designers Amanda Starich, Anna Rueden and Jane Jiumaleh.
Legal review for Open and Shut was provided by Christa Westerberg and Aaron Dumas of the Pines Bach law firm in Madison. Additional support was provided by Wisconsin Watch Executive Director Andy Hall, intern Madeline Heim and volunteer sound engineer Wesley Lethem. Noah Ovshinsky, WPR’s interim senior content director, and reporter Bridgit Bowden provided additional support.