Now more than ever, public television is expected to provide high-quality programming that serves the needs of the local community. Guided by the principle of civic engagement, Rhode Island PBS strives to create educational content that highlights the issues facing southern New England, and the station's efforts were recently recognized at the 2020 National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) Conference.
Honoring the achievements of public media outlets in community engagement, content, education, and marketing and communications, the 2020 NETA Awards were held on January 26 in Arlington, Virginia.
Rhode Island PBS was nominated for Opioids in Our Community, a community engagement initiative that shed light on the opioid epidemic ravaging the state of Rhode Island.
The project began with The Fix: Examining Rhode Island's Opioid Epidemic, a 2018 production that chronicled the harrowing stories, preventative practices, and local legislation put forth by those affected by the crisis and those working to mitigate it. To extend the reach and impact of the documentary, Rhode Island PBS launched Opioids in Our Community: A Family Meeting, a series of community outreach events that featured a screening of the film, an information fair, and discussion panels with local treatment professionals. The station also collaborated with Rhode Island Student Assistance Services to develop classroom resources and prevention-based curriculum components. All of these elements were made possible by the generous support of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
As the opioid crisis gains more traction at the forefront of public discourse, Opioids in Our Community can be credited with raising awareness and opening paths to a more earnest conversation in the state of Rhode Island.
"We are honored to have received an award that resonates so strongly with our core values," said David W. Piccerelli, president of Rhode Island PBS. "Community engagement is central to our mission, and we are thankful for the opportunity to lend our voice to such an important issue."
"This was a major success from a collaborative standpoint," said Jon Rubin, director of education services at Rhode Island PBS. "It was an amazing effort that brought production, education, and community service organizations together in the best, most complementary way. We're happy that these resources were able to make an impact and bring attention to such a critical situation in the local community."
"The quality of the entries submitted by our member stations this year truly speaks for itself," said NETA president Eric Hyyppa. "We're very proud to celebrate such outstanding work."