On Friday, Mark Krikorian’s Center for Immigration Studies gave its annual Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration to Arnold Shapiro of Arnold Shapiro Productions for his role in Homeland Security USA, a short-lived ABC series.
“Thank you for the only award this show will ever get,” joked Shapiro.
The show was based on an Australian program called Border Security, which was apparently a big hit Down Under. Homeland Security USA didn’t fare as well–it aired in the same time slot as American Idol, suffered low ratings, and was canceled. But Krikorian felt it was worthy of recognition because although it isn’t journalism in a technical sense, it’s arguably an example of “explanatory journalism” that showed Americans what it’s like to patrol the border. For a sample, see this clip, starting at 3:44.
Homeland Security USA may enjoy a legacy beyond its short life and this award. At the CIS event on Friday, Marisa Luisa O’Connell of U.S. Customs and Border Protection thanked Shapiro for his efforts. She said that the experience of collaborating with him persuaded CBP to work more frequently with television crews. One result is Border Wars, the National Geographic series. “You opened the door for that,” said O’Connell.
“Opened the door” may not be the best metaphor for a show on border control, but you get the point.