Credit where it's due: Dogged work by WFAA8 gumshoe Brett Shipp prompts statewide action on faulty natural gas couplings
07/07/10 10:32 AM
By ED BARK
WFAA8's Brett Shipp has been digging up big stories since joining the station in 1992 and becoming a full-time investigator three years later.
He's won numerous and prestigious national awards along the way. But Shipp's incredibly dogged work on the lethal dangers of faulty natural gas couplings and steel pipes may end up having more import than all of his previous efforts put together. That's because state officials finally have deduced, "in what appears to be a huge about-face," Shipp reported Tuesday, that all of these couplings must be removed statewide.
The price tag could be in the billions, he said. But three home explosions in the past year, resulting in one death and two serious injuries, have finally prompted action.
Shipp has been on this case for almost four years, with state officials cold-shouldering him at every turn. It's not glamorous or grandstanding work by any means. It is, however, proof positive that investigative reporting at the local TV station level can and should be preserved. You just need the right people to carry it through, and Shipp has proven himself time and time again in tandem with WFAA8's other veteran investigator, Byron Harris.
Fox4 also has an oft-capable gumshoe in Becky Oliver, who did some very solid work in the May "sweeps" ratings period. And CBS11 currently is rebuilding its all-but-decimated unit under new news director Adrienne Roark, who says it's her No. 1 priority.
Shipp is in a league of his own, though. As was his father, Bert Shipp, an assignments editor without peer during much of his 40-year career at WFAA8.
The elder Shipp's presence at WFAA8 was instrumental in luring his son from Dallas-based KDFW-TV (Channel 4), where he spent two years before making the jump. He since has won three national Peabody Awards and a like number of duPont awards in just the past seven years, including both of them in 2008 for his reporting on the faulty gas couplings.
Here's video of Shipp's Tuesday night report, in which state officials at last acknowledged that something has to be done: