By: Karina Valdes
Last week, students watching the School of Communication’s online presentation of the 71st Annual University of Miami Student Media Awards were treated to words of encouragement from fellow ‘Cane and alumnus, Jason Kennedy, B.S.C. ‘04. Kennedy, host of the E! series In the Room, was presented with the 2020 South Florida Communicator of the Year Award during the awards show that celebrates the dedicated students who make the University’s award-winning student media outlets successful.
“When I got an email from Ed [Julbe], saying that I was going to get the South Florida Communicator of the Year Award, that just meant a lot to me. It is never lost on me, any award, any sort of recognition, and I just wanted to send a video message wherever you guys are at right now, wherever you’re watching from, and say thank you,” said Kennedy in his message to students.
Kennedy shared with students how his passion for news started at an early age. As a 12-year-old, he built a news studio in his parents’ home equipped with a police scanner, 14 television sets, and studio lighting.
“I had to have my parents put in an extra circuit breaker because I had studio lighting in there and I was tripping circuit breakers left and right. I just couldn’t get enough of news,” said Kennedy.
His passion for news was unrelenting and, even though his high school didn’t have a studio, he continued to hone his craft in his makeshift studio at home.
“When I got to UM, I was so thankful because there were professors there, I vividly remember this, I mean so many of the professors they could just see it and they could feel it that I wanted to do this so bad,” said Kennedy.
“It was great because I felt like the professors there, they care, they want to see you crush it, they want to see you pursue the thing that’s inside of you, and it was just an incredible memory. So, I have all these feelings, hopefully you can feel it, from getting this award because it brings me back to a really great time down in Miami,” said Kennedy.
He also shared with students that even though they are in a difficult situation because of the pandemic, if they are in the mindset to do so, now is the time to be creative.
“Look, everybody’s coping differently with what’s happening, but use this time if you can to make content,” said Kennedy.
He advised students to look at social media channels as an avenue to share their productions.
“My show, In the Room on E!, which we just premiered a few months ago where I interview people in a room that has significant value to them, we had to put that on hold, and we were only five or six episodes in. Instead, I said ‘how about if we just do Instagram lives and we bring people together virtually’,” said Kennedy.
He advised students to try to adapt to the current landscape while continuing to perfect their skills.
“In the meantime, hopefully you can just stay encouraged and this can be a time where you feel creative, if you can get into that headspace,” said Kennedy.
The pre-recorded show aired on umtv.miami.edu with students and their families watching on Zoom from their shelter-in-place locations.
“For the first time in the 71-year history of these awards they are coming to you virtually,” said Ben Ezzy, outgoing station manager for UMTV, during the opening remarks of the awards presentation. “Sadly, we cannot celebrate our successes in person this year, but we are very much together in spirit.”
The 71st Annual University of Miami Student Media Awards was hosted by Jeremy Erdheim, host of UMTV’s Off the Wire. It was produced by Boriana Treadwell, senior lecturer, Ed Julbe, senior lecturer, Gina Presson, lecturer, and Alex Morales Rivera, manager of broadcast operations. The awards show was sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Rho, Distraction magazine, Ibis yearbook, The Miami Hurricane, WVUM, UMTV, the Media Management Association, and the Department of Journalism and Media Management. Airing originally on May 6, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81z5IKtyNSQ to watch the show.
Below is a list of winners:
2020 South Florida Communicator of the Year Award
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior in Media Management
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior in Electronic Media
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior in Journalism
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior in Broadcast Journalism
Outstanding Graduate Student in Journalism
Outstanding Graduate Student in Media Management
Media Management Association Awards, Third Place Undergraduate Winner
Media Management Association Awards, Second Place Undergraduate Winner
Media Management Association Awards, First Place Undergraduate Winner
Kimberly De Jesus
Media Management Association Awards, Outstanding Graduate Student
Rex Pompadur Award for Outstanding Service to UMTV
Danyel De Villiers
Honorable Mention Service to UMTV
Award for Outstanding Service to The Culture
Robert Corley Groves Award for Outstanding Achievement in Producing
Gianna Sanchez, SportsDesk
Tommy Fletcher, NewsVision
Sophia Espinosa, Pulse
Jeremy Erdheim, Off the Wire
Jessie Lauck, NewsBreak
Alexa Eckembrecher, UniMIami
Jackson Dill, CanesCast
Newcomer of the Year Award
The Spork Award
Outstanding Service to WVUM Award
Outstanding Executive Board Member Award
WVUM Lifetime Achievement Award
The Miami Hurricane Awards
Best Sports Commentary
Best Sports Profile
Most Improved News Writer
Breaking News Coverage
Most Read Story
Best News Feature
Best Opinion Column
Most Improved Culture Writer
Best Culture Feature
Best Web Design
Best Social Media Campaign
Best Multimedia Project
Best Sports Photo
Best News Photo
Best Cover Photo
Best Cover Design
Story of the Year
Design of the Year
Photo of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Jack of All Trades Award
The Most Dedicated Staffer Award
Most Valuable Staffer Award
NBS-AERHO Outstanding Senior