Winner 2011

Operation Deep Freeze

NewsChannel 5, WEWS-TV

When Charles Swinney was dying of cancer, his soon-to-be widow made a telephone call to the investigative unit of WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. She informed the team that her husband, along with thousands of other U.S. Navy personnel, had been repeatedly exposed to radiation while serving at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in the 1960s and 1970s. The WEWS team, led by Chief Investigator Ron Regan, discovered government documents, traveled across seven states to interview other veterans, and uncovered rare film footage of an experimental nuclear reactor that was determined to be the cause of the exposure. As a result of this investigation, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown alerted the Department of Defense. He noted details from the WEWS reports, citing especially 438 reported malfunctions between 1964 and 1973. Until WEWS began the investigation, these and other significant details had gone unreported to higher authorities. The Department of Defense responded to Sen. Brown‘s queries, began its own investigation and as an outcome arranged a special “McMurdo radiation dose exposure assessment” to determine the relationship between the exposures and multiple cases of cancer among affected veterans. For bringing to light a distressing series of events and for effecting responses from high-level government agencies, a Peabody Award goes to Operation Deep Freeze.


Chief Investigator: Ron Regan. Executive Producer: Melissa Watson. Photographers: David Arnold, David Hatala. Editor: Rob Gardner. News Director: Jill Manuel. General Manager: Sam Rosenwasser