November 12, 2019 by Ronn
A couple weeks ago, an article
in The Washington Post reminded readers that "Thirty years ago this fall, the savings and loan crisis penetrated America's living rooms." And that "The Keating Five story was actually broken by the National Thrift News, a small mortgage industry newspaper, not one of the major national newspapers such as The Washington Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal."
I bring this up because the winning 2019 SIPAward entry for Best Video Product came from Editorial Projects in Education (Education Week) and, while not breaking any major news, it did have an impact in a change that might save lives—on Thursday, vaping maker Juul halting sales of mint-flavored e-cigarettes, its most popular product.
This comes amid expectations that the Trump administration is close to imposing a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes, except for menthol and tobacco, according to the Post. The fact that Education Week played a part in moving Juul and the government into action shows just how valued niche content is—and likewise the SIPAwards for bringing these initiatives to the fore.
, an excellent reporter for WAMU, the public radio station here, and Education Week, put together a video story
titled "Juuling" and Teenagers: 3 Things Principals and Teachers Need to Know. Shown as a 9-minute segment on the PBS News Hour
in July of 2018, it was introduced by Judy Woodruff:
"Special Correspondent Kavitha Cardoza with our partner Education Week visited a school in Milford, Conn. where the principal is trying to change the behavior." (In this photo the principal shows a bathroom stall where as many as six kids might vape together.)
"Cigarette smoking among young people has been dropping for decades, a testament to the effectiveness of public service campaigns and warnings about the damaging health effects," wrote Sarah Sparks, assistant editor/research reporter for Education Week, in her SIPAwards entry. "But now vaping is becoming a new troubling epidemic, aided by the electronic device JUUL that has been promoted as hip and safe... and comes in an array of sweet and savory flavors.
"Education Week wanted to alert the education community and the broader public about the rapidly growing problem of vaping among students, and the related health concerns and management challenges for schools." In addition to the PBS News Hour video, Education Week and Cardoza put together a shorter, more here-are-the-facts video that they posted on their website.
That JUULing "explainer" video showing educators and parents what the devices are and how kids are using them undetected in plain sight, has had more than 3 million views so far.
It was designed to help clue in adults on this growing problem and to give them the knowledge and tools to stem the use of the products among youths.
Education Week also spoke to the head of the FDA. "He said there was almost nothing the federal agency could do since it was so new on the scene. But as the emerging public health crisis has been revealed in reporting like that Education Week has done, in print, in video, and on television via our PBS News Hour partnership, the JUUL company has been called to account"—and now has had to reverse course.
Juul's chief executive K.C. Crosthwaite said that the company "will support the upcoming FDA flavor policy" and will follow the agency's process for getting authorization to sell its products. It will also not rebrand mint under any other name unless cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
Sparks wrote that getting into a school and having candid discussions with administrators, teachers, students and parents about vaping was challenging. "It's a problem that caught adults completely off guard and exploded as students schemed ways to evade detection, sometimes getting teachers to unwittingly enable the behavior."
In the explainer video, after a cute scene with mothers looking at a vaping cartridge like it just came from Mars, Cardoza comes on and says, "Yep, that's exactly what I thought. What the heck is a JUUL?" Then we get the explanation.
Congratulations to Education Week for these video contributions to help combat such a growing and dangerous problem.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…