A finalist for this year’s Harry Frank Guggenheim awards for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting has won the inaugural Dan Rather Medal for News and Guts. Austin American-Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski won the award for his investigation into the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. The award, given through the University of Texas School of Journalism and Media at the Moody College of Communication, recognizes courage in reporting and are “designed to lift up journalists who risk it all to tell tough truths,” former CBS anchor and 60-Minutes report Rather said in an announcement. The award, which recognizes a professional and a student journalist, comes with a $5,000 prize for each. The student winner is Madeleine Davison, a recent graduate of Syracuse University in New York.
Plohetski was a runner-up for the H.F. Guggenheim prize, awarded by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the series-story category, for his multimedia project. Plohetski “exposed a policing culture that glorified violence—often for the sake of a television show—that had been meted out on dozens of people, a disproportionate number of them Black,” said John Bridges, executive editor of the Statesman in a letter accompanying the prize submission. Publication of the story contributed to the sheriff’s loss in his bid for reelection and helped trigger a national debate about the role of police reality-TV shows. “Live PD” has since been cancelled.