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Medill wins big at NATAS College Student Production Awards

Medill adds more awards to the trophy case after a successful night at the Chicago/Midwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) College Student Production awards ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 3. Three Medill entries won awards, with 22 students honored.

Wins came in two categories, the College Student Production - Newscast category, which honored the 17 students who created the Northwestern News Report – 2013 Chicago Show, and the Student Production – Long Form (Fiction and Non-Fiction) category, which honored two different films created by Medill students.

In addition to the awards, Megan Joyce (BSJ14) was honored with the Tom Skilling NATAS Scholarship.

NATAS recognizes excellence in the television industry with the Emmy Awards, so the college student awards are known as the “college Emmys.”

Assistant Professor Lawrence Stuelpnagel, who serves as the faculty adviser for the Northwestern News Network (NNN), said this year’s wins are reflective of the opportunities available at Medill for broadcast-focused students.

“It means a lot to the students to have all of their hard work pay off with the recognition from judges who work in major markets like Chicago and New York,” Stuelpnagel said. “It also demonstrates that Medill remains a leader in training young journalists who can walk into any TV station or multimedia studio and become leaders either as reporters or producers.”

Sharon Yoo (BSJ15), who was a producer on the winning NNN show, said the award is a reminder of the great work done through NNN.

“NNN has helped me grow so much as a solid reporter and a producer and I can’t wait to see where NNN will go in the future,” Yoo said. “We are a great group of really motivated and devoted people so I’m sure if we put our hearts to it, we can bring back great results no matter what.”

The two winning documentaries were created in Assistant Professor Brent Huffman’s spring quarter graduate documentary class. Huffman said normally only one winner is chosen in this category, but two were selected this year because of the strength of the films nominated.

“This shows that Medill students are working on a professional level, using video and documentary to tell compelling emotional stories about people in Chicago,” Huffman said. “These awards validate the hard work these students put into these short films. It is a big honor.”

Corinne Chin (BSJ13, MSJ13), who won with two other students for their film about an ex-felon who runs a boxing program to prevent youth violence, said the award reminded her of why she is pursuing journalism as a career.

“Tough stories matter and need to be told,” Chin said. “I’m approaching my impending graduation with renewed confidence in finding a job that I love and telling stories from marginalized communities.”

While Chin was on stage receiving her award, she spotted Professor Craig Duff taking her photo from the audience. Duff is a former director of multimedia at TIME Magazine, where he and his team won an  Emmy for new approaches in news and documentary programming. He also teaches documentary classes, which is where Chin first learned about crafting a long-form visual narrative.

“That’s the moment that the importance of this accomplishment hit me,” Chin said. “If I can make a multiple Emmy winner proud, then I must be a winner!”

Marley DelDuchetto Kayden worked on the other winning documentary film, which tells the story of Noah, a little boy battling immune deficiency, and his family. For her, the most memorable part of the win was having her film’s subjects at the awards ceremony.

With the guidance of Medill faculty, Kayden said her broadcast career is now blossoming.

“I wasn’t a journalist before I started at Medill and now I am,” Kayden said. “My professors at Medill provided me with the tools I needed to start a new career in journalism here in Chicago. Without them, I know I would never have been able to get a job as a broadcaster in the no. three market in the country. The tools and training I received at Medill are something I will carry with me throughout my career.”

Complete list of Medill winners are as follows:

In the College Student Production – Newscast category:

  • Northwestern News Report – 2013 Chicago Show (Allyson Byers, news director; Will Robinson-Smith, news director/anchor; Ariel Rothfield, anchor/reporter; Leah Varjacques, Nina Leff, Junius Randolph, Orko Manna, Joseph Lautrup, Catherine Reid, Sally Zhang, Amanda Gilbert, Edward Demaria, reporters; Gabe Cohen, sports anchor; Sharon Yoo, producer; Arpita Aneja, audio; Philip Holton, director; Robbie Stern, assistant director)

In the Student Production – Long Form (Fiction and Non-Fiction) category (two winners):

  • Flipping the Script (Fabiano Leal, Corinne Chin and Matt Rhodes, producers)
  • The 100th Day: Unknown Territory (Arcadia Kust, Marley DelDuchetto Kayden, producers/directors)