Dr. Mona Khanna, Billy Sexton
2005 Steve Pieringer Award for Outstanding Valor in News Coverage
(Published August 2005)
The Texas Association of Broadcasters is presenting a Steve Pieringer Award for the first time since 2000. This award is given only if the review committee feels a nomination has merit.
Dr. Mona Khanna and Billy Sexton are being honored this year for doing what TAB’s review committee felt was “the right thing.”
They are being honored not only because of the images and compelling story they captured in the wake of December’s deadly tsunami, but for knowing when to put down the camera and help their fellow human beings.
The KTVT-TV Dallas-Fort Worth team traveled to Sri Lanka on Jan. 8, 2005 to cover the aftermath of the tsunami. They shadowed two Texas faith-based groups (Texas Baptist Men and Gospel for Asia) with the intention of profiling the work of Texas volunteers.
While there, Khanna and Sexton discovered that physicians were desperately needed to treat displaced tsunami survivors and residents of rural villages whose care had been disrupted by the tsunami.
So they scrapped plans to follow the Texas-based group in order to assist in medical relief efforts.
They traveled with three paramedics and Ministry of Health nurses so that Khanna could provide medical care to hundreds of Sri Lankans.
Khanna has an extensive background in treating patients at disaster sites, and Sexton has shot earthquakes and hurricanes, in addition to his work as a Navy combat photographer. One of the patients Khanna treated was an elderly woman with a life-threatening jaw abscess. Khanna drained the abscess in the middle of a rice paddy.
About the Recipients
Dr. Mona Khanna took a 90 percent pay cut when she left her medical practice for a mid-career start in television news.
She did it because she loves to teach patients how to make solid decisions that will affect the quality of their lives. She reaches more patients in one broadcast in Dallas-Fort Worth than she would in a lifetime of seeing patients.
Although she has been working in television full-time for fewer than three years, her work has been recognized with a 2004 Emmy Award and a 2005 Dalton Pen Award of Excellence.
Her commitment and dedication to her television work was recently recognized with a 2005 KTVT CBS 11 “Employee of the Month” award.
Notably, her physician colleagues have recognized her unique ability to communicate health information to the public through a 2005 Texas Medical Association In-Depth television reporting award.
Billy Sexton has traveled the world covering the news and how those events affect North Texans.
He has been to Israel, South Korea and Turkey, where he profiled Texans.
Sexton was embedded with the Army’s 552 Patriot Battalion.
He went to New York immediately after 9/11 and has covered Florida hurricanes.
Sexton is a veteran of the Gulf War, where he served as a combat photographer in the Navy.
About Steve Pieringer
Steve Pieringer was a reporter for Dallas’ KRLD radio and television.
In 1968, while covering a gasoline tank fire, he and several firefighters were overwhelmed by a secondary explosion. Two firefighters were killed instantly. Pieringer died from severe burns a day later.
To honor Pieringer’s service to his community and to recognize others who have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty, TAB created the Steve Pieringer Award. It was given posthumously to his parents at TAB’s 1968 convention.
Over the years, the Pieringer Award has recognized Texas news men and women for many different reasons, such as providing lifesaving continuing coverage in an emergency, or being jailed for refusing to reveal a confidential source and even for suffering injury or death in the pursuit of the day’s news.