NOAH Housing Program Investigation
In late summer of 2008, WWL anchor/reporter Lee Zurik began a series of reports about possible corruption related to a non-profit agency charged with assisting New Orleans’ ongoing recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Zurik was alerted by Monica Gadbois, a citizen journalist who monitors city programs with her blog, that the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program might be involved in questionable financial practices. In more than 50 televised reports, Zurik pushed city officials to provide information related to the agency’s efforts to gut damaged houses, maintain properties, and assist with remodeling. When he reported discrepancies in agency records, city officials balked at providing additional information. Mayor Ray Nagin called a press conference to criticize Zurik’s reports, charging that they were hindering recovery efforts and calling on Zurik to stop the investigation. That did not happen. Within weeks, the reports linked misuse of funds to the agency’s former executive director and pointed out that one contractor was related to Nagin. NOAH suspended operations. All NOAH employees were fired. A federal grand jury took up the case. For relentless efforts to uncover possible corruption in a city agency in the face of public criticism from high officials, a Peabody Award goes to the NOAH Housing Program Investigation.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive producers: Chris Slaughter, Dominic Massa. Reporter: Lee Zurik. Videographers: Tom Moore, Bob Parkinson.