Winner 2017

Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Taxpayers Taken for a Ride

NBC5 / KXAS-TV Dallas-Fort Worth

Taxpayers may take a closer look at spending in their own communities after viewing this impressive report from the investigative news team at NBC5/KXAS-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. Reporters unraveled a set of shady real estate deals made by the Dallas County Schools (DCS) after a school bus camera-system investment went bust, leading to the discovery of a wider web of corruption and staggering financial mismanagement. Working under the guise of providing safer bus rides for school children, the district sold land assets that ended in higher costs for taxpayers. Scott Friedman’s dogged determination to get elected officials to talk on camera is admirable, as are the clean graphics and timelines that move the story along. After the report aired, the investigation made a significant impact on the community, including quick action by the Texas Legislature, the governor, and voters to close DCS. An FBI investigation resulted in a guilty plea from one man who admitted to funneling $3 million in bribes and kickbacks to a top DCS official in exchange for contracts, and the removal of all officials in charge of DCS. For its commitment to pursuing a story that resulted in changes for the better for individual schools and the community at large, “Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Taxpayers Taken for a Ride” receives a Peabody Award.


Vice President, News: Mark Ginther. Senior Investigative Reporter: Scott Friedman. Investigative Producers: Eva Parks, Jack Douglas. Photographer: Jose Sanchez. Digital Managing Editor: Frank Heinz.