SCM Professor produces award-winning documentary

Michael Woloschuk


A television documentary produced by a professor at the School of Creative Media (SCM) has won a prestigious Peabody Award, the most renowned prize in broadcast journalism.

Ms Nancy M Tong, Assistant Professor and Industry Liaison with the SCM, was the Line Producer of HBO's Cancer: Evolution to Revolution, which won the Peabody Award this year for the informative and hopeful way the programme dealt with cancer.

"Cancer: Evolution to Revolution is designed to help viewers look at cancer in a new way -- it is often preventable and treatable," said Ms Tong. "It also acts as a call to action to each of us who wants to participate actively in our own health care and maintenance."

The two-and-a-half hour documentary weaves together the stories of several individuals and their family's experience with cancer. The programme follows four cancer patients across America as they navigate, with their physicians, the choices and decisions regarding treatment.

Ms Tong said the filmmakers realized that with so many new breakthroughs in cancer research, information becomes easily outdated. Rather than offering information on the latest cancer treatment, they chose to inform viewers on how to access information with phone numbers and Web addresses of government agencies and health organizations that provide up-to-date information on cancer treatment and research.

"To facilitate the access of this information by viewers, HBO launched a website on March 30, 2000 -- the airing date of the show -- to guide users in an easy-to-understand way to find essential cancer information and direct them to other expert sites," said Ms Tong. "Almost every aspect of the disease was touched upon, from screening for cancer, treatments and clinical trials, to becoming an active patient and finding support groups."

Ms Tong's role as Line Producer of the project means that she was involved in all aspects of production, from finding patients to be interviewed, to hiring the crew, and controlling both the scheduling and budget of the documentary. Cancer: Evolution to Revolution took three years to produce, including one year spent on research alone.

The Peabody Award winners were announced on 29 March. The awards are administered by the University of Georgia's Henry W Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The awards will be presented on 21 May.



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