Nicholson Students Part of Award-Winning Media Teams

Story by UCF Nicholson School of Communication


os-orlando-police-department-use-of-force-20151106When it comes to media awards, two of the biggest were handed out this past week. And students from the Nicholson School of Communication were right in the middle as part of two award-winning teams at the Emmys and the Online News Association.

Four NSC journalism students were part of the Orlando Sentinel’s data investigation team that was recognized this past weekend by the Online News Association. The ONA honored the Sentinel with its University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism Award at its annual conference this weekend. The Sentinel’s story, “Focus on Force: An Investigation In Use of Force by the Orlando Police Department,” examined five years’ worth of records examining how OPD used force and how much money it paid out in settlements from 2010-2015.

And right in the middle of the Sentinel’s project were NSC journalism students: Alissa Smith, Andrew Ramos, Aileen Perilla and Ciara Varone. They were all hired as interns specifically to examine and sort out the data and to help the reporters who were putting the story together. Multimedia artist Charles Minshew worked directly with the interns:

“Turning information on paper into usable data for this project was key to having a better understanding of how Orlando Police officers used force. Alissa, Andrew, Aileen and Ciara worked side by side with reporters and editors on hours upon hours of data entry. Their dedication and professional work on what seemed to be an insurmountable task played an important role in our investigation.’’g-ca68-2016-0312

That kind of recognition would be a big deal for any program, but that’s only part of the story. For the third year in a row, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmy people) has recognized “Shark Tank” and its executive producer Clay Newbill (’82 R-TV) as the best Structured Reality Program. Also for the third year in a row, NSC R-TV students have been working as production assistants on the show, handpicked by Newbill himself. In other words, seven Nicholson students have been a part of Emmy award-winning production teams for Shark Tank: Catherine Gonzalez, Kelly Nader, Dat Tran, Michael Lebowitz, Nicole Inbinariaga, Christopher Thornburg and Rachel Halloy.

Kiara Harris is an NSC student who is working at Shark Tank and Clay Newbill this year, and she says it’s a life-changing experience:

“Working for Clay and his team in post production has been an amazing experience. Everyone is so open and willing to answer any questions you have
about the industry and that’s my favorite part. Clay is also super cool he makes sure to check in on all the interns whenever he sees us to see how we’re doing… It’s really cool working in reality TV and with such an organized production and incredible staff I feel really thankful.”

NSC Director Dr. Robert Littlefield was excited when he learned about the school’s students and alumni receiving such high recognition for their work.

“That’s what we do here at the Nicholson School of Communication,” he said. “We teach our students so that when they go out into the professional world, they can do the job above expectations. We are thrilled that our students and alumni get national recognition on teams that receive Emmys and awards. That’s wonderful! ”

The moral of the story? Hire Nicholson interns and good things happen.

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