The 2014-2015 academic year marked the grand opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall and the new home for USC Annenberg's student media, the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center. The Media Center has provided a space for collaboration between the student outlets, creating a new standard for innovation. Proof of the converged Media Center's success can be found in the recently announced finalists for the 57th SoCal Journalism Awards 2015 from the Los Angeles Press Club. USC Annenberg's student outlets have a total of 55 nominations. Their nominations are so expansive, in some categories USC Annenberg students are competing against one another.
Neon Tommy, Annenberg Radio News, Annenberg TV News, and Intersections South L.A. were all recognized for work by undergraduate and graduate students, ranging from breaking news to human interest features, individual and group projects, commentary, photography and more. In fact, some of the nominated work — like coverage of Ferguson, Missouri — was a collaboration among multiple outlets.
Professor Rebecca Haggerty, associate director of ATVN, described the effect of the Media Center's convergence on the students.
“There’s a real synergy in the Media Center, where the students are able to contribute to more than one outlet and get to see each other. I think it helps make anyone better," Haggerty said. "The number of nominations speaks of how vibrant our students are. I’m really proud of the students and the work they’ve done, and how USC Annenberg has supported them."
The student pieces are nominated in categories with the likes of The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, KTLA, KPCC, and other staple publications of Los Angeles.
"It’s great to see our students do so well competing against other news outlets in Los Angeles. What stands out in many of the nominated works are the voice, edge and independent spirit driving Neon Tommy throughout its six-year history," said professor Alan Mittelstaedt, the managing editor of Annenberg Digital News.
Will Federman, outgoing editor-in-chief of Neon Tommy, spoke of the caliber of students he worked with during his time at USC Annenberg.
"Neon Tommy is not stocked with college kids or student journalists playing 'reporter' or 'editor,' but rather some of the most talented people in our respective field," Federman said. "I fully expect to work with or for them in the years to come."
Federman moved to New York City after graduation and is now working as Audience Engagement Editor for Fortune, the business magazine published by Time Inc.
"We’re competing with the big boys in major categories and that’s not an anomaly," he continued. "I hope the faculty and the institution never take advantage of the fact that the Media Center is blessed with the kind of top-tier talent other organizations pay for. The LA Press Club awards are proof of that."
Ani Ucar, a recent graduate of the M.A. Journalism program and former convergence news director for the Media Center, proudly discussed her excitement for the nominations and fellow nominees.
"Seeing my peers chase after these stories and competing head to head with the mainstream media to get the job done has been so inspiring," Ucar said. "There is something to be said about an environment that houses an unparalleled group of faculty and staff and a relentless mafia of students that don't take 'no' for an answer. Thanks to both the nature and nurture fostered at USC Annenberg, I learned very quickly that no story is out of reach."
Beyond working as a collaborator for multiple USC Annenberg media outlets' nomiated work, she was also nominated for her work with LA Weekly: “EXCLUSIVE: Inside the Gay Wing of L.A. Men’s Central Jail” and “On the Inside.” Ucar will begin a fellowship with Fusion this summer, working for their investigative unit.
Of the total 55 nominations, Neon Tommy has 30 finalists, ARN has 11, Intersections has 9, and ATVN has 5. Both Neon Tommy and Intersections are nominated for Best News Web Sites in the Youth category.
Winners and runner-ups will be announced at the annual Awards Gala on June 28, where Willow Bay, director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, will be honored with the LA Press Club’s Joseph M Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Additional reporting by Veronica Licha.
The nominations are as follows:
“More than Overcrowding: A Deeper Look at the Problem Within Prisons” — Neon Tommy: Neon Tommy Staff Reporters — Activism Journalism
“New South L.A. Hospital Faces Criticism Over Delays, Lack Of Services” — Neon Tommy: Will Federman and Matthew Tinoco — Public Service News or Feature
“Zumba Boom in South LA’s Concrete Desert” — Intersections South LA: Daina Beth Solomon — Science/Health/Technology Reporting
“LAUSD Software Inflicts Scheduling Chaos” — Intersections South LA: Matt Tinoco — Educational Reporting
“Ferguson Protests Reach USC Campus” — Annenberg TV News: Fernando Hurtado and Kimberly Leoffler – Multi-media Package
“40 Years for Four Shots” — Instersections South LA: Olga Grigoryants and Daina Beth Solomon [crime reporting] – Crime Reporting
“Da Vinci Apartments Burn Behind Downtown Los Angeles Skyline” — Neon Tommy: Benjamin Dunn — Art/Photography [news photo]
“Xinran Ji Supporters Prepare For Press Conference” — Neon Tommy: Benjamin Dunn — Feature Photo
“USC Dives For The Football” — Neon Tommy: Benjamin Dunn — Sports Photo
“Women’s Soccer vs. Colorado” — Neon Tommy: Charlie Magovern — Sports Photo
“USC Students Celebrate Springfest” — Neon Tommy: Benjamin Dunn — Entertainment Photo
“Hang Time” — Neon Tommy: Charlie Magovern — Entertainment Photo
“Repairs for South L.A. Sidewalks Take Step Forward” — Annenberg TV News: Frances Wang — Television/Film [Anchor]
"Javier Bolden Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Double USC Murder" — Annenberg TV News: Ani Ucar - News
Anchor: Meghan Farnsworth — USC Annenberg Radio News — Radio [anchor]
“LA Bus Driver Sees all Sides of the City” — USC Annenberg Radio News: Rosalie Murphy — News or Feature Short Form
“Bell Reaction” — USC Annenberg Radio News: Logan Heley — Hard News Feature
“As Black As I Wanna Be?” — USC Annenberg Radio News: Jerome Campbell — Light News Feature
“Into Space With Barbara Morgan” — USC Annenberg Radio News: Kristin Marguerite Doidge — Light News Feature
“Carl the Bartender Keeps Santa Monica Laughing” — USC Annenberg Radio News: Victor Figueroa — Light News Feature
"Divided Love: A Nanny's Story" — USC Annenberg Radio News: Bryony Inge — Light News Feature
"Interview with Kopal Khanna on Her Book 'Almost Whole' — USC Annenberg Radio News: Victor Figueroa — Personality Profile/Interview
"Draft Insurance" — USC Annenberg Radio News: Matt Levin — Sports
"Carl the Bartender Keeps Santa Monica Laughing" — USC Annenberg Radio News: Victor FIgueroa — Use of Sound
Annenberg Radio News: November 5, 2014 — ARN Live Show — Talk/Public Affairs
‘Yes Means Yes’ Sets Affirmative Consent Standard for California” — Neon Tommy: Rebecca Gibian — Online [hard news]
“L.A. Reaction to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision” — Neon Tommy: Faith Miller, Emily Thornburg, Heidi Carreon, Rebecca Gibian and Ani Ucar — Online [hard news]
“Beverly Hills Battles Metro Over Purple Line Extension” — Neon Tommy: Christian Brown — Traffic and City
“Identity for Sale” — Neon Tommy: Will Federman and Matthew Tinoco — Investigative
“The High Cost of Dying in L.A.” — Neon Tommy: Rebecca Gibian, David Hodari and Vanessa Okoth-Obbo — News Feature
“South LA Street Cooks Could Soon Go Legit” — Intersections South LA: Daina Beth Solomon — News Feature
“A Look Inside the Competitive World of Irish Dance” — Neon Tommy: Alana Bracken — Lifestyle Features
“Will a Mass Grave in L.A. Be Your Final Resting Place?” — Neon Tommy: Christian Brown — Lifestyle Features
“The Father of Leimert Park, or the Octopus” — Intersections South LA: Sinduya Rangarajorin — Personality Profile
“Daniel Ellsberg: On the Republic We Couldn’t Keep” — Neon Tommy: Brianna Sacks and Will Federman — Personality Profile
"This Bicycle Kills Patriarchy" — Neon Tommy: Francesca Bessy — Political Column/Commentary
“USC Sends Poor Message to Grieving Family with Botched Memorial Service” — Neon Tommy: Heidi Carreon — Non-Political Column/Commentary
“Can Social Media Bring Back the LA Rams?” — Neon Tommy: Marah Alindogan — Online Sports News or Feature
“Landon’s Last Stand: The Final Home Game” — Neon Tommy: Paolo Uggetti— Online Sports News or Feature
“Michael Sam May be Tebowed Out of NFL” — Neon Tommy: Jeremy Bergman — Sports Commentary
"Penn State's NCAA Sanctions Lifted Due to Program, Why Not USC's?" — Neon Tommy: Max Meyer — Sports Commentary
"Landon's Last Stand: The Cup" — Neon Tommy: Paolo Uggetti — Sports Commentary
"The NFL, America's Monster" — Neon Tommy: Paolo Uggetti — Sports Commentary
"Is Sunset Strip Dying?" — Neon Tommy: Jeremy Fuster — Entertainment Feature
"The Hasidic Blues Guitarist: Lazar Lloyd" — Neon Tommy: David Hodari — Entertainment Feature
Neontommy.com — USC Annenberg School of Journalism — Best News Website Exclusive to the Internet
Neontommy.com — USC Annenberg School of Journalism — Best News Website
intersectionssouthla.org — Intersections South LA Staff — Best News Website
“New South L.A. Hospital Faces Criticism Over Delays, Lack of Services” — Neon Tommy: Will Federman and Matthew Tinoco — Enterprise
“Plaza Aims to Boost Leimert Park Community” — Intersections South LA: Jordyn Holman — Enterprise
“40 Years for Four Shots” — Intersections South LA: Olga Grigoryants and Daina Solomon — Best Feature Writing Print or Online
“More Than Overcrowding: A Deeper Look at the Problem with Prisons” — Neon Tommy: Neon Tommy Staff Reporters — Best Feature Writing Print or Online
“LAFD Looks to Add More Women to Fire Department” — Annenberg TV News: Kelly Reinke — Best Reporting Broadcast, Podcast or Stream
“Storm System Prompts Evacuations in Glendora” — Annenberg TV News: Marc Sallinger — Best Reporting Broadcast, Podcast or Stream
“South LA High School Curbs Suspension Rates with Restorative Justice” — Intersections South LA: Sarah Zahedi — Best Reporting Broadcast, Podcast or Stream