UMTV wins SPJ award

The Society of Professional Journalists [SPJ] has named NewsVision, the twice-weekly news broadcast of the UM School of Communication, as “Best Non-Daily College Newscast” in the country.

The news program competed with over 2,700 entries in the SPJ “Mark of Excellence” award competition.

According to NewsVision staff, the show had to produce an entire year’s worth of top-notch shows to win the award because judges review three random newscasts taped at various times throughout the year, so students must be consistently excellent in what they produce.

“One of the first things that came to mind when I heard that we had won the award was, ‘Wow! First in the country? We’re ranked higher than the football team,'” Stephen Webster, this year’s executive producer of NewsVision, said

NewsVision, which is run entirely by students, has consistently won less-prominent awards at the SPJ competition. Last year was the first season that the broadcast had been good enough to compete for an honor of this caliber.

“In past years, we’ve had a few good shows,” said Andy Barton, news content advisor for UMTV. “This year, I’d say over 90 percent of our shows were just outstanding.”

“I feel like everybody who participated in that particular year collectively wanted to be the best, and that pushed us over the top,” Webster said. “There was no settling for second place.”

Webster and Barton, along with Jessica Kiss, David Hamilton, Alina Masenya and Maureen Capasso, were also responsible for the production and anchoring of last year’s show.

Capasso, last year’s executive producer, was a chief player behind the scenes. She routinely spent 10-hour days making sure that even when news was slow, there was still excellent broadcasting that held viewers’ interest.

Capasso graduated last year and now works for CBS Channel 4 in Miami, where she is being trained in production.

“Maureen was one of the most dedicated broadcast students I’ve seen in my three years here, in terms of behind-the-scenes work,” said Barton.

She was also responsible for the 2003 Emmy Award that NewsVision won from the Suncoast Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences [NATAS], a regional nonprofit organization dedicated to excellence in television that typically recognizes professional journalism.

NewsVision was the sole winner in the category of “Student Productions”, which was handed out December of last year. Capasso worked alongside recent graduate Garret Russo and Kyle Berger to win the Emmy.

SPJ has also recognized Jordan Rodack, former editor in chief of The Miami Hurricane, at the 2003 National Convention. He received the “Ethics in Journalism” award for the paper’s coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks and his ensuing resignation from the Alpha Epsilon Phi [AEPi] fraternity following repeated harassment by AEPi members after he made a decision to print an article that reflected negatively on the fraternity.

“It was a tough time, but it’s something that I look back on, and am very proud of,” Rodack said. “When all this happened I wasn’t looking, expecting or hoping for any sort of recognition. I stayed true to what I believe.”

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