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NBC5 flexes its serious news muscles, devotes half-hour special to longrunning investigative series Big Buses, Bigger Problems

Investigator Group

Riding together on Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Producer Eva Parks, senior investigative reporter Scott Friedman and photojournalist Jose Sanchez. Their half-hour special arrives on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. NBC5 photo

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It’s been a long, winding, bumpy road for NBC5’s lead investigative reporter and his behind-the-scenes teammates.

Scott Friedman has been the face of Big Buses, Bigger Problems for the past six months, working full-time since last fall on “one of the more complex stories that I’ve ever been involved with,” he says in a telephone interview.

NBC5 is giving Friedman, producer Eva Parks and photojournalist Jose Sanchez an extended showcase on Wednesday, May 24th. The station is bumping the syndicated Extra in favor of a half-hour of hard news in the 6:30 to 7 p.m. slot. Those with an inclination to overwhelm the station’s “switchboard” might want to think twice and buckle in. These are the kinds of stories and investments that local TV news operations should be making in the interest of “differentiating” themselves rather than succumbing to the latest health scare, diet regimen or neighborhood crime scene.

NBC5 vice president of news Mark Ginther says that Friedman and his team have done close to 60 stories on what appear to be serious problems and possibly corruption within Dallas County Schools, the taxpayer-bankrolled agency in charge of the daily transportation of 75,000 North Texas students. The half-hour special, which will be hosted by Friedman and anchors Brian Curtis and Meredith Land, further investigates a highly questionable land deal that could end in the dissolution of the 171-year-old DCS.

It’s not a conventional “picture story.” NBC5’s biggest challenge, says Ginther, is “being able to boil it down into a format where people can follow along, because of all the nuances and complexities.”

“There are a lot of twists and turns to this whole web,” Friedman adds. Officials in charge of the DCS typically have spurned his advances, refusing to comment on-camera. But the State Legislature lately has taken an avid interest in what Friedman has uncovered, with Senate and House committees both voting to shut down the DCS. Passage by the full body still hangs in the balance.

NBC5 will rebroadcast Big Buses, Bigger Problems : The Land Deal on Saturday, May 27th, again at 6:30 p.m. The station’s nbcdfw web page has an exhaustive chronology of how this investigation began and where it might be going. You can dive in right here.

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