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Students, alumna nominated for NATAS awards

October 30, 2013
Jorge Rodas

Jorge Rodas

Two current NIU students and one alumna have been nominated for awards from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the organization that sponsors the Emmy® Awards in television production and performance excellence.

Candice Beasley and Jorge Rodas, NIU students in the Department of Communication, and Lauren Scott, a 2013 graduate of the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, have been nominated to receive College Student Production Awards.

Recipients will be announced Sunday, Nov. 3, at the 55th annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards ceremony in Chicago.

“We are so proud of these students, who have put NIU in the spotlight alongside other distinguished institutions, such as DePaul University and Northwestern University,” said Allen May, general manager of broadcast news with Northern Television Center (NTC) at NIU. “Our students hold themselves to a high standard of excellence. These nominations reflect recognition of their achievements and of the continuing tradition our program provides for success in broadcast journalism.”

Beasley was nominated for producing the April 24, 2013, NTC News Tonight telecast, which featured an interview with NIU alumnus Richard Taylor Jr. In his book, “Unashamed: The Process of Reconstruction, Taylor wrote about the physical challenges, emotional issues and other struggles that led him to consider suicide, and also shared the process that helped turn his life around.

“I wanted to do something that was relatable, yet risky,” Beasley says. “We don’t talk enough about the struggles people face in life, and how they can be overcome. A lot of people, especially students, face these kinds of issues, feeling like these momentary struggles will last forever. I wanted to interview Richard in the hopes that even one student who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts would understand that they, too, can get through life’s challenges.”

Candice Beasley

Candice Beasley

When asked how it feels to be nominated for this award, Beasley says, “I’m still in shock. Sometimes you wonder if your work or what you have to offer is ever good enough, and this nomination answered those questions for me. I’m so thankful, grateful and excited.”

Beasley says she owes a debt of gratitude to her “NTC family,” including Taurean Small and Kiarra Herring, for helping to make the newscast so powerful, and to “the best professors anyone could ask for,” Allen May and Jennifer Corvino.

“They dedicate so much of their time, energy, wisdom and care to every student who walks through those doors,” she adds. “I would advise any student who is interested in media to stop by NTC and consider attending NIU. They won’t regret it.”

Rodas, multimedia journalist at WIFR-TV in Rockford, was nominated in the General Assignment category for “Pension Games,” a broadcast piece that aired earlier this year.  The segment won a Student Silver Dome Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in September.

“It’s no secret that our state has a pension problem,” Rodas says, “but students don’t necessarily pay attention to issues like this. My goal with this piece, which I did as an independent study, was to take a a very difficult and complex issue and break it down to make it easier for people to understand the history and impact of the pension crisis.”

Rodas says that the story took some time to develop and produce, not only because he was balancing full-time work with a full course load, but also because he interviewed a number of people, including state representatives, the president of Taxpayers United of America and Steve Cunningham, vice president of Human Resources and Compliance at NIU, to gain a better perspective on the issue.

Northern Television Center logo“I felt more connected to this story than any other I’ve done,” he says. “To receive a nomination feels wonderful. It’s such a great honor.”

Rodas also was nominated for a NATAS award last year, which was the first time an NIU student been nominated.

Like Beasley, Rodas credits May and the experience he got at NTC and NIU for his success. “What NIU has in Mr. May and the other faculty far outweighs any flashy gadgets or equipment that other schools might offer. I can’t say enough about the guidance and support that I received from Mr. May.”

Lauren Scott, now an associate producer at KPRC-TV in Houston, was nominated in the Arts and Entertainment/Cultural Affairs category for producing “Inside the 815.” Scott was unavailable to comment on her nomination for this article.

by Deborah Fransen