Winner 2001

Visions of Vine Street

WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, Ohio

In April 2001, the heart of Cincinnati, a deteriorated area known as “Over-the-Rhine,” exploded in riots. In the days following, WCPO-TV General Manager Bill Fee and News Director Bob Morford asked WCPO-TV’s I-Team to investigate this area’s problems and to pay special attention to those who owned the many abandoned buildings along the district’s main thoroughfare, Vine Street. Investigative Reporter Laure Quinlivan and her team assembled so much material that what was to be a series of short segments for the late news became instead a one-hour documentary, aired commercial free in prime time. During four months of research Quinlivan and Videographer Rob Griola toured the once-grand neighborhood and interviewed all of its major players—business owners, city officials, nonprofit organization leaders and owners who have abandoned their buildings. They assessed the issues and opportunities facing Over-the-Rhine. Then, taking lessons from Main Street, another rejuvenated area of Cincinnati, and from revitalized sister-city Columbus, Ohio, the I-Team developed and outlined solutions to the Vine Street blight. Their proposals included a housing court, low interest homeowner loans, city-funded street improvements, more police presence, a workable master plan for revival and a neighborhood “pride center” to house all police and social service activities for the area. The I-Team’s hard-hitting, intricately woven report and blueprint for improvement captured the attention of citizens and city leaders alike and brought results. Early this year, Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken announced plans to create a housing court and a neighborhood pride center for Vine Street. This model investigative documentary from a local television news organization informed its citizens and contributed to improved life in its community. As a result, Visions of Vine Street brings a Peabody Award to reporter Laure Quinlivan and WCPO’s I-Team, their second in three years.