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Cronkite students make history at Arizona Press Club awards

Cronkite grad films heroin documentary
May 14, 2015

For the first time in the history of the Arizona Press Club, students came out on top against professional journalists in the 91-year-old organization’s awards contest.

Sean Logan and Erin Patrick O'Connor, recent graduates at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, took first place in the video storytelling category for “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” a statewide documentary that reached more than 1 million viewers on all Arizona broadcast television stations in January.

According to Arizona Press Club President Jim Small, this is the first time in the history of the Arizona Press Club Awards that students have won in any professional category.

In all, the Cronkite School amassed 12 awards in the competition, with students taking nearly every single college honor in addition to their professional award. Small, who also is the editor of the Arizona Capitol Times, said there was much excitement about Cronkite students winning a professional award.

“It shows the great work universities are doing training students,” he said. “The fact that they can put out journalism deemed by our fantastic judges to be on the same caliber as professional news outlets is fantastic.”

The Cronkite School documentary, produced in association with the Arizona Broadcasters Association, focused on the state’s growing and alarming perils of heroin and opioid use. The documentary aired on all 33 broadcast television stations and 93 radio stations.

More than 70 students and eight faculty members worked on the documentary, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacquee Petchel, a Cronkite School professor of practice who also leads the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative. During and after the simulcast, recovery counselors answered 438 calls through an Arizona Broadcasters Association-sponsored call center in the Cronkite School for assistance on heroin and opioid addiction.

“Such a partnership between a state broadcasters association and journalism school has never occurred in any state before,” Arizona Broadcasters Association President and CEO Art Brooks said. “And having 100 percent of all TV and such a large percentage of radio stations in both English and Spanish is also history-making. Lives were changed and saved that night.”

In the college awards, Cronkite students swept three of four categories: photojournalism, sports reporting and news reporting. Cronkite student Logan won awards in two student categories, photography and features reporting. Connor Radnovich was named College Photographer of the Year, marking the third time in a row a Cronkite student has won this honor. Emily Mahoney took both first and third place in college news reporting.

“We are always very proud of our outstanding students, but for students to win this prestigious statewide award in a professional category is extraordinary,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “The heroin project demonstrates not only the high quality of these students but also how they are contributing to the community and our state through this kind of important, impactful journalism.”

The Arizona Press Club is a non-profit organization of professional reporters, editors, photographers and designers from publications across the state. Its goal is to promote excellence in journalism through an annual contest, training seminars, scholarships and networking events.

The complete list of Cronkite’s Arizona Press Club winners:


Video Storytelling

First place: Sean Logan and Erin Patrick O'Connor, “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona


College Photographer of the Year

First place: Connor Radnovich

Second place: Jessie Wardarski

Third place: Sean Logan

College Sports Reporting

First place: Bethany Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Morgan Chan, “Kush, Wulk, Winkles Helped Elevate ASU Athletics to National Prominence,” Cronkite News

Second place: Justin Emerson, “Bottom of the Ninth – Packard Stadium Shuts its Doors After 40 Years,” The State Press

Third place: Benjamin Margiott, “Bump, Set, Sand – Sand Volleyball to Begin 1st Season in School History,” The State Press

College News Reporting

First place: Emily Mahoney, “Dream Deferred: ASU Facilities Wither Without Maintenance Funding,” The State Press

Second place: Shelby Slade, “The New Frontier — Advocates Seek Change in Tuition Rates for Dreamers,” The State Press

Third place: Emily Mahoney, “We the Police — The Relationship Between Tempe and Its Protectors

College Features Reporting

Second place: Sarah Jarvis, “A Nonprofit Group Leaves Humanitarian Aid Along Immigrant Trails,” Downtown Devil

Third place: Sean Logan, “Help From Above: ‘Flying Sams’ Bring Clinic to Mexican Communities,” The State Press

Media contact:
Joseph Giordano,