Elon’s '30 Minutes' show wins College Television Awards Emmy

The student news program was recognized in the magazine category of the 37th College Television Awards presented on May 25 by the Television Academy Foundation.

Members of Elon University’s “30 Minutes” news broadcast celebrate the program’s first-place finish in the magazine category of the 37th College Television Awards. Pictured (from left) are Jennie Hook ’16, Ryan Kathleen Greene ’15, Eric Halperin ’15 and Brian Mezerski ’15. Photo courtesy of Mezerski
During her acceptance speech at the 37th College Television Awards, presented by the Television Academy Foundation in Los Angeles, Elon University alumna Ryan Kathleen Greene ’15 exhibited what reliable journalists possess: unapologetic honesty.

Moments after “30 Minutes,” Elon’s half-hour student news broadcast, captured first place in the competition’s magazine category, Greene lifted her left hand to the audience, revealing smudged ink on her palm.

“I’m quickly learning why they told us to write a speech because I wrote it on my hand, and I got very nervous and sweated it right off,” said Greene, who produced the award-winning entry. “I don’t know why I’m telling you guys, but whatever.”

The same authenticity Greene displayed at the College Television Awards – informally known as the College Emmy Awards — can be found in the “30 Minutes” broadcast, created in spring 2015 as part of Associate Professor Rich Landesberg’s “60 Minutes” master class.

The half-hour show includes exhaustive reporting on the topics of post-cancer breast reconstruction, American-Muslim culture in the 21st century, and one man’s attempt to revitalize downtown Burlington.

In addition to Greene, the show contributors included classmates Jonathan Black ’15, Libby Gormley ’15, Eric Halperin ’15, Jennie Hook ’16, Brennan McGovern ’15, Matt Mintzer ’15, Amory Parks ’16, Jasmine Turner ’15 and Preston Willett ’15. Al Drago ’15 and Brian Mezerski ’15 also served as the course’s teaching assistants. Halperin, Hook and Mezerski joined Greene on stage during the ceremony.

Landesberg explained the “60 Minutes” class drew strength from one another because they represented many of the disciplines taught in the School of Communications. He noted the class included students not only interested in broadcast journalism, but also print journalism, photojournalism, and entertainment and documentary production.

“All of these individuals brought different aesthetics, different news sense and different ideas to the table. They stretched themselves. But they all had the same basic drive, which was to tell a compelling story,” he said.

This determination is evident in the students’ finished product, Landesberg added. The students reported on topics of interest beyond the campus’ walls, including a sensitive piece on breast cancer.

“They told it with great empathy, as well as with great information,” he said of the segment. “They gained the trust of people who were putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. In the end, they came out with a piece that was emotional, informative and compelling television.”

Greene lifts her left hand revealing smudged speech remarks on her palm. Photo courtesy of the Television Academy Foundation
​As part of her acceptance speech, Greene, who now serves as a marketing and creative production associate at ABC News, acknowledged many of the individuals who influenced the broadcast, including Michael Radutzky, chair of the School of Communications Advisory Board and senior producer of “60 Minutes.”

During the university’s 2015 spring break, the master class traveled to New York City to meet with Radutzky and “60 Minutes” Executive Editor Bill Owens, who spent more than an hour reviewing and critiquing the students’ investigative pieces.

Greene sincerely thanked Radutzky for “ripping our stories apart and letting us put them back together.” The graduate’s full acceptance speech is available on the Television Academy Foundation’s website.

Landesberg also commended the students for their resolve, aptly handling constructive criticism from individuals both inside and outside their newsroom.

“They never gave up even in the face of some wilting critiques, whether it was from the staff at ‘60 Minutes,’ from me, or from each other,” he said. “It was an incredibly self-motivated group.”

Other nominees in the magazine category included Pennsylvania State University and City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Bellamy Young, the actress best known for her role as Mellie Grant on ABC’s drama series “Scandal,” presented the award to the Elon contingent.

The College Television Awards event, held this year at the Skirball Cultural Center, is considered the nation’s foremost competition for television students. Sponsored by the Television Academy Foundation, the annual event and its student entries are judged by TV Academy members.