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WTVF Nashville’s investigation into Tennessee mayoral candidate wins prestigious Peabody Award

May 9, 2024 By Molly Miossi

NASHVILLE – WTVF, a Nashville-based local television station owned by The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP), has won a Peabody Award for its 2023 investigation that exposed Franklin, Tennessee, mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson’s white supremacist ties and other questions about her background during last fall’s elections.

In a series of over 20 reports, WTVF Chief Investigative Reporter Phil Williams and the NewsChannel 5 Investigates team probed Hanson’s ties to white supremacists, her arrest history for promoting prostitution and her social media photo of a group of women she claimed to be her supporters but who later denied that claim and denounced her, among other inconsistencies and unusual revelations.

“In Franklin, Tennessee, an affluent suburb of Nashville, mediagenic alderwoman Gabrielle Hanson entered the 2023 mayor’s race against a popular Republican incumbent, running on a far-right platform of Christian nationalism and opposition to LGBTQ rights,” the Peabody judges wrote. “But when investigative reporter Phil Williams of WTVF-NewsChannel 5 started following Hanson’s campaign, he uncovered a trail of hypocrisy and deceit, full of doctored social media posts, a job running a prostitution service under a different name, lies to police and carpetbagging.”

Chosen each year by a diverse board of jurors through unanimous vote, Peabody Awards are given in the categories of entertainment, documentary, news, podcast/radio, arts, children’s and youth and public service programming. The annual Peabody winners are a collection of stories that “powerfully reflect the pressing social issues and the vibrant emerging voices of our day.”

This is Williams’ fourth Peabody Award and the third for WTVF.

“The NewsChannel 5 Investigates team, led by the determined Phil Williams, perfectly demonstrates what journalism can do for a local community,” said Lyn Plantinga, Scripps vice president and regional general manager. “Our team asked hard questions of public officials on behalf of local voters, giving them critical information that likely would have remained uncovered.”

“The Nashville team’s persistent local reporting is an example of true watchdog journalism, and Scripps is proud of their commitment to bringing truth to light,” Scripps President of News Kate O’Brian said.

Williams, who has spent more than 25 years at WTVF, was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) for his ongoing work to expose corruption in Tennessee government and politics. Williams is also the 2023 recipient of the prestigious John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism and is the only TV journalist to ever receive a coveted Toner Prize for political reporting.

This year’s Peabody winners will be celebrated at a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 9.

Media contact: Becca McCarter, The E.W. Scripps Company, (513) 410-2425, [email protected]

About Scripps
The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP) is a diversified media company focused on creating a better-informed world. As one of the nation’s largest local TV broadcasters, Scripps serves communities with quality, objective local journalism and operates a portfolio of more than 60 stations in 40+ markets. Scripps reaches households across the U.S. with national news outlets Scripps News and Court TV and popular entertainment brands ION, Bounce, Defy TV, Grit, ION Mystery and Laff. Scripps is the nation’s largest holder of broadcast spectrum. Scripps is the longtime steward of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps’ long-time motto is: “Give light and the people will find their own way.”