The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


TAJE announces Tony Plohetski as this year’s Fall Fiesta Keynote Speaker

Tony Plohetski is a national award-winning journalist whose work spans print, television and digital mediums. He has chronicled some of Texas’ biggest stories, and his investigative and accountability reporting has led to indictments and prompted new state laws and other government reform.

He joined the Austin American-Statesman in 2000 and since 2013, he has worked in partnership with KVUE, where he is the station’s senior reporter.

Plohetski has received more than two dozen national and state journalism honors, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award, three National Headliner awards and the prestigious Hillman Prize in broadcasting, which honors journalists “who pursue investigative reporting and deep storytelling in the service of common good.” In 2021, he was the inaugural winner of the Dan Rather Medal for News & Guts for journalistic courage and was named Star Reporter of the Year by Texas Managing Editors, an honor for which he was twice runner up in the past decade. He also has received regional Emmy awards for general assignment reporting, environmental reporting and continuing coverage of a news event.

Most recently, Plohetski was a key member of the Statesman’s and KVUE’s reporting teams after the mass shooting in Uvalde that killed 19 children and two teachers. He was among the first journalists to provide earliest information on the horrific death toll and to confirm that authorities were expanding an investigation into the law enforcement response. Weeks later, he first revealed a photograph that showed heavily armed officers in the hall of Robb Elementary as minutes passed without entry into a classroom. Most notably, he was the first journalist nationally to obtain and release a 77-minute video depicting the lack of police response.

In 2020, Plohetski revealed the death of Javier Ambler II while in the custody of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. His investigation of the agency’s ties with a reality TV show showed other questionable force encounters. The program was canceled, and the Texas Legislature imposed a ban on law enforcement agencies partnering with such productions.

The prior year, Plohetski produced a TV and newspaper series on the explosion of rock-mining quarries in the Texas Hill Country and how a lack of regulations threatens some of the state’ most cherished land. He and KVUE chief photographer Brian Bell received a National Headliner award for environmental broadcast reporting and a regional Emmy award for the series “Left in the Dust.”

In 2018, Plohetski became a trusted authority during a rash of bombing attacks in Austin during a 19-day span. He was the first to report in the middle of the night that the suspect killed himself as police closed in and later gained exclusive details about the bomber’s audio confession.

His work for the Statesman was showcased in a portfolio that was awarded a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, was named Texas Star Breaking News Report of the Year and received a Charles E. Green Award from the Headliners Foundation of Texas.

His live reporting for KVUE was part of a composite that received a first-place award for breaking news reporting from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and a Charles E. Green Award from the Texas Headliners Foundation in the broadcast division. Judges cited “his ability to work sources, get confirmation from multiple sources and report it on the fly…It gave viewers a chance to see how journalism works.”

A year after the attacks, Plohetski wrote and co-produced the KVUE documentary “Stopping the Austin Bomber” and authored a three-day serial narrative “19 Days” for the Statesman that provided the most detailed account of how law enforcement found the attacker. The series received recognition from the national Society for Features Journalism.

Other high-profile work in recent years included his 2016 investigation into the violent arrest of Breaion King, a Black elementary teacher who was subjected to force by an officer following a traffic offense. The case of Breaion King sparked wide reforms within the department, and led to an HBO documentary, “Traffic Stop,” that was nominated for an Academy Award and featured a cameo of Plohetski.

Plohetski also has been honored by the national Association of LGBTQ Journalists, the national Associated Press Sports Editors and has received a Texas Gavel Award for criminal justice reporting. Gannett honored him in 2020 and 2021 for Individual Achievement, and in those same two years, the Austin Alliance for Women in Media named him Journalist of the Year.

He is routinely invited to speak to college journalism classes at the University of Texas and St. Edward’s University, where he has served as an adjunct professor. He graduated from the University of Mississippi, where he was less than 1 percent of students each year to receive the Taylor Medal for undergraduate academic achievement.

Plohetski has also appeared numerous times on national news outlets and every major cable news channel, including CNN, MSNBC and HLN. He has also served as a case expert for ABC’s “Nightline,” CBS’s “48 Hours” and the Investigation Discovery channel.

He and his husband, Wroe Jackson, live in Austin with their dog, Calvin, an adoptee from the Austin Animal Center.