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For a half decade, NBCU-owned KNTV in the San Francisco Bay Area had been reporting on a Navy contractor that mishandled soil samples and falsified data during a radiological cleanup at the Hunters Point Shipyard. After decades of serving as a government nuclear research lab, the parcel of waterfront real estate had been undergoing redevelopment. Slated to be built at the site: parks and community gathering places, offices and retail space and 10,000 housing units.
Then, in 2019, the station — branded on-air as NBC Bay Area — unveiled a multimedia report that pinpointed potentially contaminated trouble spots on the project grounds. Published on its website, the NBC Bay Area story featured an embed of its on-air news story of the scandal, but also offered comprehensive text, archival photos, GIFs, graphics, maps and a three-minute digital video mini-documentary. Set to a stirring, Vivaldi-esque soundtrack like something out of an Oliver Stone flick, the short film relied on Google Earth imaging and swooped viewers into the site to see precisely where the cleanup fell short of expected standards.
The story, which helped power lawsuits against the contractor, was the result of a months-long collaboration between NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit and its new digital innovation team. Founded just a year earlier, the squadron of five had already celebrated regional and national Edward R. Murrow awards for Excellence in Social Media. But upon producing the Hunters Point Shipyard contamination clip and several other outstanding reports, it took home four more Murrows: another