School of Communications students and Elon News Network earned a total of 13 accolades in the Broadcast Education Association’s 2021 Festival of Media Arts, a digital media and broadcast competition for faculty and students.
Jack Norcross ’21 knows well the challenges student journalists have faced over the past year. As news director of Elon News Network, he has teamed with fellow students to collaborate across multiple locations to broadcast the student-run organization’s live programming. Additionally, as a member of the “60 Minutes” Master Class last fall, Norcross and his classmates faced similar logistical hurdles while investigating and reporting on assignment.
These collective efforts paid off with “timely and important” news coverage, said Assistant Professor Alex Luchsinger, who taught last fall’s master class. It also earned the School of Communications two first-place finishes in the Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) 2021 Festival of Media Arts. In total, Elon students collected 13 awards in a deep competition of more than 1,300 entries, representing over 250 colleges and universities.
Associate Professor Vic Costello, BEA’s vice president for academic relations, surmised that Elon’s 13 accolades is the most the university has earned in a single year. (In 2020, Elon collected six awards.)
The “60 Minutes” Master Class captured first for its “30 Minutes” entry in the Student News Competition’s TV News Magazine Category. The half-hour show consisted of three segments: “Keeping Faith,” an investigation into Elon’s Jewish community following two acts of aggression; “A Pandemic Disparity,” a report on the struggles facing Black- and minority-owned businesses,” and “The K-12 Pandemic,” a look at the inequities of online education.
“The amount of time and work that went into the final piece was extraordinary,” said Norcross, who collaborated with Isabella Seman ’21 and Christian Galvano ’21 on the “Keeping Faith” segment. “I think I am so proud of our work because we saw it through from pitch to publication. This was a process that began in August and didn’t end until mid-December. We worked hard to get the story right, and to make sure every voice was included.”
Luchsinger commended his students for immersing themselves in complex topics, and incorporating the feedback they received, which included Zoom sessions with staff members of CBS’s “60 Minutes” program.
“These were all diverse stories woven into the realities of the pandemic, which are two immense, universal challenges we’re all faced with right now,” Luchsinger said. “Despite the obvious challenges, the students took on tough stories with the tenacity to do important work. They made their characters comfortable and helped them understand that their stories were important to tell.”
The assistant professor added: “This was really a team effort. None of the stories would have succeeded without others’ input, and the students rallied around one another and put in the work. They’ll be a tough group to follow.”
Elon News Network’s “ELN Morning” show won the Student News Competition’s TV Newscast (3 per week or less) Category for its Sept. 10, 2020 broadcast, which was produced by Norcross and directed by Jared Bunder ’22. Norcross applauded the ENN staff for its award-winning work despite broadcasting from temporary locations in response to the pandemic.
“Like everyone else, Elon News Network had to make major adjustments to our operations,” Norcross said. “Because of space and capacity limits, we had to move three of our fall shows outside of the studio. This show in the newsroom was the result of hard work from Jared Bunder, Chris Morrison and Quintin Brenner.”
The news director added that the logistical hurdles presented obvious difficulties, but also new opportunities.
“In some ways I love the challenge because it forces creativity, but at other times, it’s hard training new members when there are significant limitations,” Norcross said. “We continue to improve our communication and logistics day after day. Fortunately, we have some of the hardest working student journalists and production crews in the country to make this all possible.”
Additionally, Elon News Network racked up two second-place finishes, with its election night coverage recognized in the Student News Competition’s Studio Category, as well as Maeve Ashbrook ’21 taking runner-up in the competition’s Television News Anchor Category.
Each November – and especially during a presidential election – the election night coverage is one of ENN’s biggest production. Fall 2020 was no different. According to Norcross, the organization had several different iterations of the production planned, including an entirely remote show. Fortunately, the students ended up utilizing the school’s on-campus facilities.
“Communication and planning was key,” Norcross said. “We had live shots, remote cameras and a hard-working graphics team that all made the show possible. We made the absolute most of the situation.”
Below is a complete rundown of Elon’s BEA award recipients, listing recognized individuals, their projects and the categories their work competed in:
Student Sports Competition
TV Sports Talent (Anchor/Host) Category
2nd Place: Tellier Lundquist – “Tellier Lundquist Broadcast Reel”
Student Documentary Competition
Award of Excellence: Zach Skillings – “A New Adult”
Student Film & Video Competition
Music Video Category
2nd Place: Cassidy Beal, Caroline Mansfield & Nikki Inocencio – “Charleston”
3rd Place: Jesse Newman, Caroline Mansfield & Matt Koy, Elon University – “Who Are You”
Award of Excellence: Jeremy Palladino & Oliver Smith – “To the Peak”
Award of Excellence: Jared Mayerson, Riley Bradford & Lumiere Rostick – “Grocery Run”
Award of Excellence: Tyler Litwin – “Unpaid”
Award of Excellence: Connor Thomas – “Baldwin Sappenfield Dancer Promo”
Student Interactive Multimedia and Emerging Technologies Competition
2nd Place: Mela Williams – “The CityGate Dream Center Project”