Students, alumnus honored at virtual RTDNAC awards ceremony

Jack Norcross ’21 and Liam Collins ’20 were among the honorees at the 2020 Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas Convention, showcasing the best broadcast journalism in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Members of Elon News Network, Elon’s student-run news organization, and one Elon University alumnus were celebrated this weekend at the 2020 Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas (RTDNAC) Convention. Among the convention’s award recipients were senior Jack Norcross, who was named the D. Haney Howell Student Journalist of the Year, and Liam Collins ’20, who placed first in the Best Student News Reporting category.

Jack Norcross ’21 was named the D. Haney Howell Student Journalist of the Year by the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas. It recognizes the top student journalist in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The 2020 RTDNAC awards were hosted virtually on Nov. 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to his student journalist award, Norcross captured second place in the Best Student Feature Reporting category for “Meet Bobo,” a feature about one of the cast members at the North Carolina Renaissance Festival. Junior Baylor Rodman also placed second in the Best Student TV News Producing category on the merits of ELN Morning’s Oct. 31, 2019, show.

Norcross said winning the D. Haney Howell Award was exciting and serves as motivation for him to “work harder and get better.”

“This award means even more given the year we’ve had,” he said. “I really can’t thank enough my family, friends, colleagues, advisers and everyone who makes me a better journalist and person every single day.”

Serving as news director at Elon News Network, Norcross leads and supports broadcast journalism in the student-run media organization. Being a part of student media motivates Norcross to be a better journalist each day and it is why he chose to study at Elon, he explained.

“One of the main reasons I decided to come to Elon with the fact that I can get involved with student media the first day I stepped foot on campus,” Norcross said. “Not only does it help students while here at Elon, but it also prepares us extremely well for the real world. I don’t know of any other place where I was able to do so much within just my first few years here.”

Norcross (seated, facing away) played a large role in Elon News Network’s election night coverage earlier this month. The student-run news organization produced live coverage throughout the evening and early morning on Nov. 3 and 4. Also pictured is junior Jared Bunder.

Richard Landesberg, associate professor of journalism and ENN adviser, has known Norcross since the aspiring journalist first arrived  “under the oaks.” Landesberg said Norcross has been a leader since he started at ENN, and has helped the organization grow and better serve the community.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving to be named North Carolina Student Journalist of the Year,” Landesberg said. “He is one of those rare students who understands the power of television news and how to harness that power. His work informs our community and brings light to important issues and ideas.”

Click here to view Norcross’ student journalist of the year submission. Mercy Myers of the University of South Carolina placed second in the D. Haney Howell Award competition.

A 2020 Elon graduate, Collins won first place in Best Student News Reporting for his series on the opioid epidemic. Today, he serves as the Jacksonville bureau chief and multimedia reporter at WITN News in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

When working on his award-winning story, Collins completed rewrite after rewrite and continued to seek feedback from many before his work aired, Landesberg said. His passion and skill as a storyteller was evident in his reporting, and Landesberg noted he was not surprised by Collins’ won.

As part of his investigation into the opioid epidemic, Liam Collins discovered that nearly 90 percent of overdose deaths in Alamance County in 2019 were opioid-related.

“Liam showed incredible passion and perseverance in bringing this story to light,” Landesberg said. “His reporting on this project was a work of passion as well as first-class journalism.  He worked hard to make sure that this reporting was well-crafted, accurate and accessible. This was an important piece of work.”

This year’s awards competition recognized the best of television, radio, website and collegiate work from July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. The full livestream of the event can be watched here.


The Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas sponsors professional development meetings and seminars for journalists in North and South Carolina. It holds an annual fall meeting, which offers training for professionals and honors winners of the awards competition. The organization’s annual spring workshop is geared toward helping students hone their skills as they prepare to enter the job market.

The D. Haney Howell Student Journalist of the Year is named for Haney Howell, a former professor at Winthrop University and an emeritus member of the RTDNAC board. A nationally acclaimed news reporter and producer, Howell passed away in February 2019.