For the first time in over 15 years, two of UMTV’s weekly shows were nominated for the Television Academy Foundation 39th College Television Awards, one of the most prestigious honors for student production in the country. Produced by the same foundation that coordinates the Emmys, the College Television Awards almost mimics the famous television awards show and attracts college students from around the country to Hollywood each year.
“We’ve entered the competition before, but this is our first nomination and we’re very excited. It’s always nice when others acknowledge and appreciate the time, effort, and dedication we put into the show,” said Ed Julbe, School of Communication senior lecturer and adviser of SportsDesk.
Each show was allowed to submit one episode from the year for adjudication, and according to seniors Rebekah Chung and Luis Gonzalez, executive producers of NewsVision and SportsDesk respectively, these episodes were not chosen randomly.
Last year, both shows had been planning to mesh their best storylines, strongest anchors, and cleanest shots for one exceptional product to submit. For NewsVision, the episode they entered was a long time coming – Chung spent the weeks following the tragic Parkland shooting reaching out to as many students as she could for interviews.
“The tragedy actually happened the day before our show, and we had a completely different rundown for the week,” Chung said. “So once that hit, I called up [seniors at the time] Amanda [Herrera] and Kelly [Saberi], and I said we need to meet now in the studio and start tweaking the rundown, because everything needs to change.”
But, it wasn’t until one brave Parkland student responded to Chung’s request that their champion show started to come together.
“Finally, we were able to land that major interview with the student who was willing to share their experience, and that’s when it really took off and we were able to do a little more in-depth reporting,” Chung said.
As for SportsDesk, the trek to becoming nominated was just as strenuous. Gonzalez said the team chose a show they produced in April because of the variety of storylines it boasted, the various different locations they shot in, as well as the strong reporting. However, tensions arose when junior Josh White, an analyst for a segment called Inside Pitch, lost his voice the day before the show.
“He didn’t speak the day before just so he could do the show,” said Gonzalez. “Although we’re thin in numbers, we get that experience of really getting to carry the show on our backs and be a part of something a lot bigger.”
UMTV members spend hours each week writing, directing, producing, and starring in seven different news shows, including an entertainment show, Pulse and a show completely in Spanish, UniMiami. According to Boriana Treadwell, lecturer in the School of Communication and adviser of NewsVision, the dedicated students on UMTV are driven solely by their passion for broadcast journalism and television production.
“There is no compensation and there’s no credit,” said Treadwell. “Everything is voluntary. It’s really to help the students who are in that line of work learn, improve, and add skills, and they take full advantage of that.”
And what makes the recent College Television Awards nomination for SportsDesk, in particular, even more impressive is the fact that they rarely receive submissions or have help from broadcast classes like some of the other shows.
“If anything, SportsDesk is solely run by students. For NewsVision, we get packages from classes that we air, but for them it’s all volunteer. Most of their content comes from the fact that they want to be there,” said junior Justin Stevens, one of the executive producers of NewsVision this year.
There is no doubt both SportsDesk and NewsVision have earned their nominations, and on March 16, one winner will be announced in each category (drama, comedy, animation, nonfiction, promotional, news, sports, and variety) at the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.
“If we win, it’s definitely going to be big for the organization. It’s been a long time,” Chung said.
“We haven’t really been recognized in a national spotlight a lot of times, so it’s nice to finally be shown that we’re good enough,” said Gonzalez. “It’s kind of like a pat on the back saying, ‘You got this. You can do this.’”
This year’s nominations are indeed a ‘pat on the back’ for not only the students involved in UMTV, but for the organization as a whole and, according to Chung, the abundance of hard-hitting news stories throughout the year only benefited the station’s shows.
“It’s [UMTV] a terrific learning environment where students of all experience levels truly learn what it’s like to work as a team,” said Julbe. “Our student-run show works tirelessly to continually produce the best show possible each and every week.”