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22 Oct, 2017

“Selling Girls,” Original Investigation into U.S. Child Sex Trafficking, shown on TEGNA Station Digital Platforms

MCLEAN, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–TEGNA Inc. (NYSE: TGNA) announced today the premiere of “Selling Girls,” a six-part digital, episodic series investigating sex trafficking of children in America. Produced by award-winning investigative news teams from WXIA in Atlanta and KHOU in Houston, the entire series of “Selling Girls” rolls out first on TEGNA stations’ digital platforms beginning today, October 19. Each station will localize the story, showing the direct impact in their local community. On-air coverage will begin on October 22.

While the series focuses on the sex trafficking of underage girls, boys are also victims of the minor sex trade and all children under the age of 18 who are induced to engage in commercial sex are victims of trafficking.

“‘Selling Girls’ tells a disturbing story that no one wants to talk about, but we must expose and address the issue of trafficking of our young people in the United States. No topic is more timely as the FBI announced just this week that it has rescued children and arrested traffickers as part of a multi-state human trafficking ring,” said Ellen Crooke, vice president, news, TEGNA. “But there’s more work to do. Local journalism has the power to shine a light on national issues through a focused lens. We hope that ‘Selling Girls’ educates and informs our audiences and helps reverse the course of human trafficking in this country.”

“We applaud TEGNA for its thoughtful investigation that demonstrates the realities of child sex trafficking in the U.S.,” said Staca Shehan, who leads the child sex trafficking team at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “Traffickers are making an alarming profit while American victims endure countless days and nights of rape, abuse, torture and violence. Awareness and education are key to ending the demand and putting a stop to child sex trafficking.”

The six episodes of “Selling Girls” include:

(+) “Sex Trafficking 101.” The series opens by answering the core questions: What is child sex trafficking and how does it happen in the United States?

(+) “Motivation” is the nickname of a trafficker who is interviewed for the series from prison. He explains how he coerced a 14-year-old girl into the sex trade, a crime for which he was arrested and only received probation. The young survivor of this trauma received no counseling or services and returned to the trade.

(+) “Survivors” describes how sex traffickers lure girls into the trade and how these youngsters are so vulnerable.

(+) “Groomed” takes viewers just beyond the boundaries of a Houston high school, where sex traffickers give free alcohol and drugs to underage girls to pressure them into the trade.

(+) “Buyers” pulls back the curtain to reveal the sordid and specific business model that connects buyers with young girls. One buyer explains why he purchased sex and admits that he never asked questions about age.

(+) “Saving Girls.” Viewers will learn the three steps that can be taken now to help change the topic of conversation from selling girls to saving them.

Each station’s coverage is unique, highlighting the crisis in their community. With complicated and often conflicting local, state and federal sex trafficking laws, TEGNA stations reveal the flaws in the system and what can be done to help protect kids.

“Selling Girls” is the latest series from the award-winning producers of the investigative units at WXIA and KHOU. Previously, the “Charlie Foxtrot” series (produced in 2016-17) drove policy changes for how the U.S. Military provides treatment and care for veterans suffering from PTSD. They also took a raw look at the dramatic rise in heroin-related deaths in American suburbs in “The Triangle”(2016), a series that helped to elevate the national opioid conversation and is now used as a regular part of addiction awareness and education.


TEGNA Inc. (NYSE: TGNA) is an innovative media company that serves the greater good of our communities. With 46 television stations in 38 markets, TEGNA delivers relevant content and information to consumers across platforms. It is the largest owner of top 4 affiliates in the top 25 markets, reaching approximately one-third of all television households nationwide. For more information, visit www.TEGNA.com.