USC Annenberg's award-winning Impact television news magazine added another prestigious award to its résumé April 10 when five members of last year's production team won first place in the news magazine division at the national College Television Awards.
The awards ceremony, hosted by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, honors the best work in video, digital production and film production by undergraduate and graduate students from around the country.
"There was a brief moment of, 'Did we hear what we thought we just heard?"' journalism professor and Impact executive producer/faculty advisor Dan Birman said about listening to Impact's name called. "Seeing the looks on the students’ faces was really fun. This is their launch to their careers. This is a big deal.”
Accepting the award for the winning show, Impact Episode 45, were show producers Cristina Bishai, Maritza Navarro and Kim Daniels, and segment producers Kate and Shannon Carroll. Esther Pomeroy (supervising producer from last year) and Deidre Crawford were unable to attend. Kate and Shannon reported a story titled Urban Beekeeping for Episode 45, while Bishai delved into the world of ventriloquism with I've Got No Strings.
"It was absolutely incredible," Bishai said about winning the award. "We were all shocked. I jumped up and screamed. We ran down to the stage and accepted the award, and it was very, very exciting. Coming into USC, I knew that Impact had been recognized several times by the Academy. When I knew I would be a senior producer it was my secret goal to get us another award. I'm so happy that it happened."
As a first-place winner, Impact students received a $2,000 award. Second-place winners took home $1,000 and third-place winners received $500. In addition to a cash prize, selected winners receive invaluable career building opportunities, including an invitation to pitch their piece to a development executive and a chance to meet with an entertainment industry mentor.
“A number of College Television Award winners go on to have successful careers in the industry and have even become Primetime Emmy Award winners,” said Television Academy Foundation Executive Director Terri Clark. “This accomplishment is only the beginning for many of this year’s talented student producers.”
The University picked up a total of six College Television Awards, as the USC School of Cinematic Arts won five awards. This year, the College Television Awards honored work in 11 categories including: Animation, Children’s, Comedy, Commercials, Documentary, Drama, Music Composition, Best Use of Music, Newscasts and Series. More than 600 students from 158 schools across 38 states entered the competition. The winning work was then showcased at a special screening on April 11 at the Television Academy's Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood.
"The students are being recognized by the most important and recognizable brand in the industry for their work," said Debbie Slavkin, program manager/development associate Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. "To be judged on excellence from the same people who are judging for the Primetime Emmy Awards, you can’t do much better than that."
Daniels, who is the supervising producer for Impact this year, said she was nervous before the award ceremony because some of Impact's competition came from universities that focus more on long-form journalism.
"When it happened, it was a little shocking, but also fantastic because we deserve it," Daniels said. "Any time you hear your named called out in that situation, your heart is beating a little bit and you’ve been bracing for the letdown, and then you’re not let down. 'Wow, did they just say that? Yes, they just said that!'"
She also called the win encouraging because it shows that the Impact team has been working hard in the right way.
"We know with good training and storytelling, we have talented students who can pull this off and really make great nonfiction storytelling," she said. "We're increasing our skills, telling good stories, making good shows and coming up with compelling content. It’s hugely encouraging. You need to set the bar high. It’s a really competitive industry and this should be our goal. This is huge."
About the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation
Established in 1959 as the charitable arm of the Television Academy, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation preserves and celebrates the history of the medium while educating and guiding those who will shape its future. Prominent among its many initiatives are the Archive of American Television, education programs such as the College Television Awards and its renowned student internship program, all of which utilize the resources of the Television Academy. For more information about the Foundation, its many programs and services, please visit emmysfoundation.org.