Follow the Truth podcast wins 2022 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award

2022 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award winner for outstanding podcast Follow the Truth
Among the most prestigious awards in journalism, Murrow Award winning work demonstrates the excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession.

What an honor for our team!

Follow The Truth is the first narrative, true crime podcast produced by WRAL Studios, the original podcast production unit of WRAL and parent Capitol Broadcasting Company.

Who killed Michael Jordan’s father?

The podcast series reinvestigates the murder of James R. Jordan, Michael Jordan’s father, using exclusive WRAL news archives, original interrogation tapes and trial audio along with fresh reporting on new evidence brought forth by the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. The podcast focuses on Daniel Andre Green, one of the two men convicted of the murder, who has maintained his innocence since 1993.

The original ten episode series was released in 2021, with bonus episodes added in 2022 as big news broke in the case. New episodes will be released as the case continues. 

Was this a case of wrongful conviction?

“This project took 18 months to produce but has been in the making for almost 28 years, building on the work of many WRAL journalists who have covered this story since 1993. The Regional Murrow Award is an exceptional honor for our small, dedicated, talented podcast team who did not, and will not, quit in the pursuit of real justice.” 

Shelly Leslie, Head of WRAL Studios and Executive Producer

Here’s how we did it

A story like this starts with a dive into what you already have. We had an archive of sound and video that was 28 years deep. Hundreds of hours of tape. Thankfully, WRAL-TV invested years ago into digitizing its old news tapes into searchable form by both sound search and word search. That archive gave us the story that had already been reported, but it was mostly the prosecution’s narrative of what happened. We also had reporter Amanda Lamb’s 10-year correspondence with Daniel Green who has filed appeals since his conviction in 1996.

We acquired and digitized the original interrogation tapes and trial audio for the first time, and reviewed over 12,000 pages of court documents to help capture the story in its entirety.

We set out with a goal to re-investigate the case. Take it apart and put it back together for listeners to decide if real justice had been done. What is the actual physical evidence? There’s evidence that was available at the time of trial that the jury never heard. Was Larry Demery telling the truth? Was there law enforcement corruption involved? What role did race place? What role did celebrity play? Did Daniel Green get a fair trial? Did he get adequate representation? What’s the new evidence Green is trying to bring forward? Was there a wrongful conviction? What’s the truth?

Why do this story now?

Daniel Green has maintained his innocence in the murder since the beginning. When the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence took on Green’s case, it got our attention. Executive Director Chris Mumma has a reputation for getting innocent people out of prison. As of this writing, she’s undefeated in cases she’s litigated. NCCAI only takes a handful of cases from the thousands of requests it gets. Once we looked into what Mumma and NCCAI had uncovered, we knew this was a story worth pursuing.

Question what you think you know

As Executive Producer of Follow the Truth and Moment of Truth, the documentary-series about the Jordan murder streaming on Amazon Prime in the US and UK, I’ve lived this story for the last four years. It’s one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Thankfully, my family has never been impacted by crime –as the accused or the victim. I cannot imagine the shock and grief to have a family member taken in such a senseless and violent way. How do you ever get over it?

The story challenged my beliefs about the justice system, how it works and how often it fails, and made me realize how a crime like this ripples out so far from the center. How often do we think about every person impacted? This “Waiting to Exhale” episode with Daniel’s mother and sister will stay with me a long time.

The process of producing this project also made me question what I considered the “truth.” Watching my WRAL colleagues cover the crime and trial as a young news photographer in the early 90’s, I thought I knew this story. I believed what I saw. They reported what they saw in the trial. But this experience taught me things are not always as they seem. They didn’t have the benefit of what was known but not being said at trial.

Top 25 Things You Don’t Know About the Murder of Michael Jordan’s Dad

James R. Jordan with son Michael Jordan
James R. Jordan (left) with son Michael Jordan. Photo credit: Hugh Morton, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library at Chapel Hil

The story isn’t over

Since our docu-series and podcast premiered in 2021, big things have happened in the case. As of this writing, the North Carolina Court of Appeals is reconsidering its denial of Daniel Green’s motion for appropriate relief. We will continue to follow the story to its conclusion.

Shoutout to the Team!

Follow The Truth is reported and hosted by Amanda Lamb with co-writer and producer Cliff Bumgardner. Story Editor and mix by Wilson Sayre. Original music by George Hage and Lee Rosevere. Branding and digital marketing by WRAL Digital Solutions, creative director Jeff Wood. Production manager, social media marketing and too many other things to list from the incomparable Anita Normanly. Archivist Jay Jennings, and additional reporting by Clay Johnson.

A story this big with a team this small means every member has to buy in to the mission and be willing to do every job. This team encouraged, pushed, and lifted each other every step of the way.

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