KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — WATE 6 On Your Side was awarded four wins in the East Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2021 Golden Press Card Awards during a ceremony on May 12, 2022. The awards recognize exceptional journalism in the Knoxville, Chattanooga and Crossville areas of East Tennessee.

WATE’s Don Dare, Photographers Brian Engelstad and David Wignall took home first place in pandemic reporting for Dare’s story about a Long-COVID survivor.

“This is a prime example of what television news can do through personalization. The station’s decision to follow this woman’s journey after COVID-19 reveals the intense and scary health effects and how she was left alone to pay astronomical medical bills. While context would have been helpful, the decision to focus on her journey served both an educational purpose, as well as a very real example of the power of dedicated journalism. The reporter’s dogged pursuit of this case certainly played a role in the decision to finally pay her bills,” said a judge.

Dare and Wignall also took home first in Series/Package/Project writing for their coverage of a disabled grandmother facing eviction in Amherst Ridge. One of the judges said the story is “what great television reporters do best: Tell the story in a clear, meaningful and human-centered way and follow-up to show people that it matters.”

WATE’s Elizabeth Kuebel won second place for general reporting for her coverage of a man’s survival story after he nearly lost his life in a shooting. One judge said the story was “a sensitive get told with compassion.”

WATE’s Kellyanne Stitts took home first place for sports reporting for her interview with Tee Higgins looking at how his football career came full circle.

“Well done. Very thorough. Good work tracing the high school to college to pro pipeline. Nice tie to Hot Wheel cars. Good comments from Higgins, his mom and the Bengals Coach Zac Taylor,” said a judge.

The entries were judged by the Greater Cincinnati SPJ Professional Chapter. The winners were chosen from nearly 100 entries from news organizations and journalists from TV newsrooms, radio stations, newspapers, digital-only news sites and freelancers.