NCCU’s Department of Mass Communication Dominates Industry Awards

Posted March 15, 2021, 2:09PM
Photo Taken Pre-COVID-19 Pandemic

NCCU Department of Mass Communication students, faculty and alumni recently earned some of the highest honors given in their respective fields.

Students took home fourteen awards from the Southern Regional Press Institute virtual conference on Feb. 26, 2021, where entries were judged by Savannah, Ga.-area media professionals.

“Over many years, our department’s students have built a reputation for excellence at the Institute, and it’s something that we remain proud of as a department,” department chair Calvin Hall said. “This year, in addition to building on our tradition of excellence with the Campus Echo student newspaper, we got to see the work of our new student newscast Central News and AudioNet student radio work being validated by professionals, along with our students’ work in film and documentary. It is a positive reflection on our students and the instruction they receive in their courses.”

Meanwhile, associate professor Bruce dePyssler, Ph.D., and 2018 graduate Autavius Smith earned the Gaddy Gold Award for best documentary short film at the 2020 Peak City International Film Festival in Apex, N.C., last October.

DePyssler, who also advises the student newspaper, previously produced award-wining documentaries exploring the Black experience in Durham and North Carolina: “Upbuilding Whitted” and “In the House” in 2013; “Nothing But Love in God’s Water” in 2019; and “Durham’s Mayor Bill Bell” in 2017.

DePyssler and Smith’s documentary, “Judge Joe Webster - A Life of Calm Purpose,” profiles the life of Joe L. Webster, a groundbreaking Black jurist who serves as federal magistrate judge for the Middle District Court of North Carolina.

This year marked the 70th anniversary of Southern Regional Press Institute conference, which sponsors the contest as well as brings in media professionals to train students in issues facing the industry, such as ethics, new media technologies, innovations and entrepreneurship.

This year, NCCU students dominated the first-place selections and swept all places in the categories for best radio news story and best radio drama.

Alan Franks, a senior, won best news package for his work with “Central News,” the Department of Mass Communication’s news show. Senior Siegee Dowah won best mini-documentary for her video “Underground Sound.”

Dallas Clemmons, a junior, also brought home an award for best radio news story for the production “Fear.” Raiyatta Kinloch, also a junior, garnered first place in feature writing for “NCCU senior serves as mentor, leader, role model among her peers.”

Campus Echo co-editor, Aaliyah Bowden took home a first-place award for her news story with the North Carolina Health News “NC’s historically Black colleges keep COVID cases at bay.” First place also went to Kayla Jordan, a junior, in the best radio drama category for her production “Scholarship”.

Additional winners are as follows:

Second Place Awards

  • Best Sports Photography – Chukwuemeka Manning, The Campus Echo
  • Best Commercial or PSA – TJ Bernard, Maya O’Neal and Joshua Stephenson
  • Best Radio News Story – Alaysia Adams, Eagle Eye Productions
  • Best Radio Drama – Siegee Dowah, Eagle Eye Productions
  • Best Podcast or Internet-Streamed Show – Daraka Wilson, AudioNet

Third Place Awards

  • Best News Package – Siegee Dowah, “Central News”
  • Best Radio News Story – Daraka Wilson
  • Best Radio Drama – Malcolm Beamon, Eagle Eye News

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