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JEM Student-Produced Pregnancy & Addiction Documentary To Air on WBIR-TV

Elmore video taping interviewA 30-minute documentary, about the opiate epidemic in East Tennessee, produced by UT’s Land Grant Films, an extracurricular documentary journalism program housed in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media (JEM),  will premiere at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Knox County Health Department auditorium at 140 Dameron Avenue.  The premiere of “Reaching Recovery: Pregnancy and Addiction in East Tennessee,” will be broadcast live on WBIR along with a panel discussion to follow. Those attending in person should be at the auditorium by 6:30 p.m.

The documentary, which was produced in conjunction with Knoxville’s Metro Drug Coalition, presents a comprehensive view of the problems associated with babies being born drug dependent through interviews with medical experts, addiction specialists, policy makers, and mothers who have struggled with addiction. Last year alone, nearly 1,000 babies in Tennessee were born drug dependent. 

Following the film premiere, a panel discussion will be led by WBIR-TV anchor Robin Wilhoit with panelists: Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department; Karen Pershing, executive director of the Metro Drug Coalition; Carla Saunders, neonatal nurse practitioner from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital; and Evan Sexton, director of Renaissance Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network. The premiere and panel discussion are free and open to the public.

UT’s Land Grant Films provides JEM students with real-world experience in documentary storytelling while providing local non-profit organizations with videos assets. See the article in Tennessee Today,

The documentary was directed by journalism professor Nick Geidner, edited by journalism graduate student Clinton Elmore, and produced by undergraduate students Abby Bower and Hannah Marley along with Nichole Stevens, a recent graduate of the college’s master’s degree program. Six additional students served in a variety of other production roles.

“We hope this documentary will add a clear and resonating voice to the problem of pregnancy and addiction in East Tennessee,” said Geidner. “The learning process for the students involved has been challenging because of the serious subject and heart-wrenching stories they heard. I am proud of the dedication they demonstrated in producing a quality documentary that offers a real service to important groups in our community.”