At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 2023, the Brooks Jackson Prize for Fact-Checking was awarded as part of the 12th biennial Walter Cronkite Awards to Chris Ingalls and KING 5 News, a Seattle-based news station, in recognition of their television series debunking a misinformation campaign that sought to undermine trust in Washington State’s election system.
Named after the renowned journalist, the Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in Television Political Journalism recognize the efforts of TV journalists and producers to inform Americans of current events. This year’s ceremony, in particular, was focused on the work done by journalists to combat the spread of misinformation – a problem that has grown especially acute in recent years.
At the ceremony, Eugene Kiely, the director of FactCheck.org, took to the stage to present the Jackson Prize. “The award is named for Brooks Jackson, the veteran journalist who pioneered fact-check stories debunking false and misleading political statements,” he said. Jackson’s work to promote fact-checking includes the founding of FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), which he developed alongside co-founder Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the policy center.
APPC awards the Jackson Prize as part of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Cronkite Awards and is meant to specifically recognize journalists’ fact-checking work, complementing the other awards for excellence in TV reporting.
Kiely continued, “This year, the award goes to Chris Ingalls, an investigative reporter with KING 5 News, an NBC affiliate in Seattle, for a five-part series that debunked a misinformation campaign that sought to undermine public trust in Washington State’s election.” Kiely said that “Ingalls vetted claims of voter registration anomalies across three separate counties made … by [a group calling itself] the Voter Integrity Project.” Kiely outlined the work that Ingalls did to combat the misinformation campaign, praising his use of “public records requests, old-fashioned shoe leather, and effective interviews to expose false and misleading claims,” before showing a segment of the series to the audience.
Accepting the award, Chris Ingalls praised his boss at KING 5’s willingness to “invest not only in a story but a possible story,” which is what makes KING 5 “the TV station that we are.” He also took the opportunity to emphasize the threat that his series exposed regarding “the future of misinformation.”
“In the 2020 elections … there was no evidence to the claim,” Ingalls said. “But here we followed these conservative citizens groups that were going door-to-door to confirm if voters lived at the address where they were registered to vote.” “In the three counties we looked at, [the groups] said that they found evidence of 3,000 fraudulent votes, which we, through fact-checking, found out wasn’t true.”
The ceremony was hosted by USC Annenberg professor Martin Kaplan, director of the school’s Norman Lear Center, which administers the awards, and included the presentation of a dozen other awards for documentaries, national reporting, national programs, and other journalistic work.
View the video of the presentation of the Brooks Jackson Prize on C-SPAN.