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Alabama Public Radio wins national award

Matt Mecoli

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Pat Duggins, news director of Alabama Public Radio, has won the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated award for best news series for his work covering the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Oil and Water: Recovering from the Spill,” is a five-part radio series that examines the long-term effects on Alabama from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

“The big guys, NBC, CNN and Fox, were always coming back with the same stories. It would be something about how a governor wanted money, a fisherman wanted his life back and a BP executive wanted to say sorry,” Duggins said. “After a while I said ‘the networks aren’t getting the story.’ I wanted to spend a year on the topic and look at case studies like Prince William Sound in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.”

Duggins delved deeper into the topic, examining issues like the effect on mental health or crime and domestic violence trends.

This is not Duggins’ first experience working with disaster.

Working with NPR in Orlando, he covered the 1986 Challenger explosion, the 1989 wildfire crisis and the disastrous 2003 Columbia shuttle re-entry failure.

He said it was Hurricane Charlie in 2004 that best prepared him for the April 27, 2011 tornado.

The award comes in the wake of several won by the APR news team, including a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for their tornado coverage. They were also named the “The Most Outstanding News Operation” of 2011 by the Associated Press.

In October, APR will join organizations like NBC Network TV, CBS Network Radio and the Associated Press when they receive the national Edward R. Murrow award for overall excellence.

“I’m as proud of my team as could be,” Duggins said.

The “Oil and Water” series can be found free of charge by searching “Oil and Water” on Alabama Public Radio’s website, www.apr.org.

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Alabama Public Radio wins national award