A Florida television station and a publication focused on military issues were presented The American Legion Fourth Estate Awards Aug. 31 during the organization’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C. The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism.
Previous winners of the award include CNN, CBS, USA Today, ABC News, C-SPAN, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Life Magazine, among others.
“The American Legion Fourth Estate Award is difficult to earn,” American Legion National Commander Vincent J. Troiola said. “It is a testament to the demanding nature of the competition – and the quality of entries. Not only do the reports have to be informative and entertaining, they also have to provide a tangible benefit to society.”
The winner in broadcast news was the ABC Action News (WFTS-TV) I-Team in Tampa, Fla., for its three-part series, “Bogus COVID-19 Testing Clinics Putting Floridians’ Health at Risk.” Producer Adam Walser led an investigation into pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics that often promised “instant results” to paying customers. One family received an email reporting their “negative” test results while they were still in line waiting to be tested. Another clinic promised results in 15 minutes, when scientific experts said the technology for such a quick reading did not exist at the time. The fraudulent results exposed thousands of people needlessly by giving a false sense of security, likely costing lives.
Walser and the I-Team previously were previously recognized with a Fourth Estate Award in 2021.
In print, Military Times was recognized for its 2022 coverage about the harmful effects of burn pits and other toxic exposures on generations of military members. Reporter Leo Shane was often the “go-to” source for veteran service organizations tracking the developments of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, which was signed by President Biden last year.
“One of the most significant victories for The American Legion and veterans everywhere was the passage and signing of the PACT Act last year,” Troiola said. “Leading the way in coverage about the harmful effects of burn pits and other toxic exposures impacting veterans was The Military Times. Deputy Editor Leo Shane authored much of the coverage about these exposures and the latest developments in Congress and the White House.”