Ball State project wins 2017 APME Innovator of the Year Award for College Students

Ball State University’s semester-long project, “Unmasked: The stigma of meth,” won the Associated Press Media Editors 2017 Innovator of the Year Award for College Students.

Winners were recognized this week at the annual News Leadership Conference, a combined conference of APME, American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Photo Managers, held in Washington, D.C.

“Unmasked: The stigma of meth” was an interdisciplinary, cross-platform student-led immersive class experience that explored methamphetamine use in the university’s home county, which has led the state and even the nation in recent years in the number of methamphetamine drug busts.

It is a graduation requirement that journalism majors at Ball State participate in at least one immersive learning class.

Twenty-seven students worked with two professors over 15 weeks to produce the work.

Under the direction of Professors Terry Hefeitz, who teaches in the Department of Telecommunications, and Juli Metzger, who teaches in the Department of Journalism, the project includes a 30-minute documentary for public television, a series of radio broadcasts for Indiana Public Radio, a website with podcasts and web video at, and a 40-page high-end, glossy magazine.

Judges said: “Terrific multi-media series produced by Ball State University’s Unified Media program. Their work clearly and dramatically demonstrated the impact that meth had in Indiana’s Muncie and Delaware County, and dug deep to put a face on drug addiction. Stories about how one gent caught fire cooking meth, and others that explored the number of babies born addicted were particularly compelling. No doubt why their work was picked up by public television and radio, and even the Associated Press. A tour de force on all platforms.”

Metzger, along with Ball State journalism students attending the News Leadership Conference, accepted the award.

The project also won Mark of Excellence awards in the Society of Professional Journalists competition, including first place in feature photography, and television in-depth reporting. It also won SPJ first place regional awards in student television documentary, and student continuing coverage.

Previous winners of the APME Innovator of the Year have included Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication, Marquette Wire.


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