For Phil Cross, it all boils down to two simple things – telling a story and making a difference.

The intersection of those goals helped the 2004 graduate of Missouri Southern take home an award in the Politics/Government-Program/Series/Special category during the 2017 Heartland Regional Emmy Competition. “Robbery or Resource: Oklahoma Takes on Civil Forfeiture” aired last year on Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 as a special report.

The 20-minute segment examines the practice allowing the judicial system to seize assets from those believed to be involved in a crime, sometimes putting the rights of an individual at odds with the rights of the state.

“It was a topic being discussed in our legislature and around the country,” says Cross, an investigative reporter for KOKH. “I was researching the topic as part of my master’s degree in criminology and all of a sudden it became a hot-button issue.

“You don’t get a lot of chances to do it at TV stations these days, but my station is invested in investigative reporting. Based on my reporting on the topic, I was given the time to put together a story about an important issue in our state.”

Cross got his start in television as a student at Missouri Southern, serving as a producer at KGCS.

“I was very involved as the student station manager my senior year,” he said. “I won a Missouri Broadcasters Association award for ‘Campus Update.’”

Later, he served as an intern at KODE and as a producer at KOAM. He has been with KOKH for the last 10 years.

He was previously nominated for an Emmy two years ago, following a report on a local community’s contaminated water supply. Winning the award this year – in a competitive region that includes Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado – was “an incredible honor,” he said.

“The voting is done among peers in the business, and it goes to the best of the best,” said Cross. “To be included in that list of people is pretty special.”