For the first time, a journalism school will receive the highest honor given by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for an ASU documentary on heroin that reached more than one million Arizonans.
The NATAS Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter will honor the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Arizona Broadcasters Association with the Governors’ Award in October for the documentary “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which aired on all 33 broadcast television stations and 93 radio stations in Arizona in January.
“The ‘Hooked’ campaign by the Arizona Broadcasters Association and Cronkite School addresses an issue that plagues so many members of our community,” said Theresa Maher, president of the NATAS Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter. “We hope that their raw look into the world of heroin use will change the course of many lives for the better.”
The 30-minute documentary, produced by the Cronkite School in association with the Arizona Broadcasters Association (ABA), traces the rise of heroin use and its impact on Arizonans through the stories of addicts struggling with sobriety, families grappling for solace, and law enforcement officials battling on the frontlines. More than 70 students and eight faculty members at the Cronkite School worked on the project under the direction of Cronkite professor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.
“The award represents a significant contribution to public service,” Petchel said, “and it says a lot about our students and how the Cronkite School prepares them to produce compelling journalism.”
During and after the simulcast, 100 recovery counselors answered hundreds of calls at an ABA-sponsored call center at Arizona PBS for assistance on heroin and opioid addiction.
“The Governors’ Award greatly acknowledges what was not only historic with the airing of the ‘Hooked’ project, but honors the students, professors, leadership at Cronkite as well as the character of every local TV station and 93 radio stations in the state that provided the valuable airtime and the professionals at the front line in taking the calls that flooded the call center that evening,” said ABA President and CEO Art Brooks. “I have no doubt lives were changed and saved that night and since January 13.”
The Governors’ Award is the second professional honor Cronkite students have won for “Hooked.” In May, students took first place in video storytelling at the Arizona Press Club Awards, marking the first time in the history of the contest that students of any university beat professional journalists.
The Governors’ Award recognizes individuals and organizations for going above and beyond in telecommunications profession. “Hooked” shares this year’s award with KSL in Salt Lake City.
“This award demonstrates the extraordinary power and impact that outstanding ASU students working with inspiring faculty members can produce for our community,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are extremely honored to receive this award, unprecedented for a university.”
This year’s Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 17 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.