WFAA-TV’s Byron Harris, a Texas reporting icon and one of the most decorated broadcast journalists in the country, received Fort Worth SPJ’s Open Doors Award, the organization’s highest honor, at the 12th annual First Amendment Awards and Scholarship Dinner, April 17, 2015, at Cacharel in Arlington, Texas.The chapter also distributed $17,500 to 10 students who are either from Texas or attending school in Texas. Providing scholarships dates to the chapter’s early days in the 1940s. Since 2000 alone, $256,000 has been handed out.
Harris holds two Peabody Awards, four national Edward R. Murrow Awards, and three Gerald Loeb Awards for distinguished business reporting. Last year, he won his sixth duPont-Columbia Award — the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize — for exposing fraud in Texas’ Medicaid dental system.Harris was the first U.S. reporter to refuse to surrender his camera at Area 51, the government’s secret military installation in Nevada. He was arrested and released, then filed a story about classified aircraft sightings all along the West Coast. He has reported from war zones and filed numerous stories from Russia. He chronicled the abuses that led to the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s.
He joins previous Open Doors recipients Brett Shipp, WFAA-TV; Betty Brink, Fort Worth Weekly; the WFAA-TV team of Mark Smith, Billy Bryant, Brett Shipp and Byron Harris; Dan Malone at Tarleton State University; Craig Flournoy, Southern Methodist University; Jennifer Autrey when she was with the Star-Telegram; Hadassah Schloss in the Texas Attorney General’s Office; Ralph Langer with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas; Diane Wilson, author of “An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas”; and Jennifer Peebles when she was with Texas Watchdog. Read more