Congratulations, 13 Undercover!

March 31, 2009 4:15:18 PM PDT
Congratulations Wayne Dolcefino and the 13 Undercover team. They're the winners of the 2008 Freedom of Information Award, which recognizes the news organization that wages the toughest fight for the public's right to know. The honor was given to them by Investigative Reporters and Editors, an international organization. The IRE medal is the highest honor they give out and is one of the nation's highest journalism honors.

The 'Email Trail,' for which they were recognized, was the compilation of investigative stories done chronicling the 13 Undercover unit's effort to stop the mass deletion of 700,000 emails from the Harris County Sheriffs Office.

Wayne Dolcefino filed suit to make the emails the department was planning to destroy public. It exposed racist emails, evidence of secret surveillance and law enforcement work done for major campaign contributors of now former Sheriff Tommy Thomas.

Members of the Eyewitness News staff spent weeks reviewing the e mails. The award honors Wayne, producer Steve Bivens and photographer/editor David DeFranchi.

This is the second time Wayne has been honored with an IRE medal. He's the only reporter in the country who can claim the honor of having two IRE medals. In 1994, he was honored for a series exposing phony bilingual teachers at the Houston Independent School District.

The organization includes all the major newspapers in the world, networks , and television programs from 60 Minutes to the New York Times.

Here are some of the stories for which 13 Undercover was honored

  • More outrage over sheriff's department emails
  • Sheriff email battle continues
  • Sheriff's Dept. emails target another group
  • Racist emails found in sheriff's dept. emails

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