Rachel Polansky is a three-time Edward R. Murrow Award winning and Emmy nominated investigative reporter at WKYC 3News, the NBC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes:
I'm most proud of my investigative reporting that has enacted change at both a local and statewide level during the 2020 pandemic. After my ongoing investigations into the state's refusal to release names of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases and deaths, Ohio's governor changed his tune and released the names. That's when I uncovered the new data was riddled with errors. After I told the state about the errors, the data was corrected. As cases continued to surge, families with loved ones in nursing homes continued to turn to me, and I continued to tell their stories. Reporters often say they got into this business to give a voice to the voiceless. I turn that saying into reality every day.
I also led the charge on a series of exclusive stories about a COVID-19 outbreak at Ohio's only federal prison. As families of Elkton inmates were met with silence, I exposed horrible prison conditions and explained how the federal prison became a death trap for thousands of inmates. Yes, these inmates were given prison sentences. No, they were not given death sentences.
Before moving to Cleveland, I spent three years reporting at WBBH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida. I spent two of those years reporting on contractor fraud, highlighting builders who stole from their often, vulnerable customers. I talked to people who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars - usually their life savings. They couldn't get law enforcement to listen to them, but I listened. In turn, I got law enforcement and our local lawmakers involved. Eventually, one of those lawmakers filed legislation targeting these crooked contractors. One year later, Florida’s governor signed that legislation into law.
My work backs up my pledge to be a journalist who makes a difference in my community. I've been told I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to my investigative reporting. I don't give up, and I always hold the powerful accountable. Go ahead, underestimate me. That'll be fun.
Rachel graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Penn State University. When she's not reporting, you can find her at a yoga studio or at home where she enjoys spending time with her husband, Dominic, and their golden retriever rescue, Willow.
The Pennsylvania State University; University Park, Pennsylvania Broadcast Journalism Major, English Minor Summa Cum Laude