July 28, 2009

Alumnus earns major broadcast journalism honor

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate recently earned one of the nation’s top awards for broadcast journalism.

Andrew Tanielian, a reporter with WICS-TV in Springfield, received the 2009 National Edward R. Murrow Award for writing in the small market television category. The awards, presented by Radio-Television News Directors Association, honor excellence in electronic journalism, according to the RTNDA Web site.

Tanielian is a two-degree SIUC graduate, earning bachelor’s degrees in 2006 in both radio-television and political science. He earned a master’s degree in public affairs reporting in 2007 from the University of Illinois Springfield.

“A national level Murrow Award is one of the most sought-after in broadcast journalism,” said Joey Helleny, a senior lecturer in the SIUC’s Department of Radio-Television. “It’s quite an honor, especially since Andrew is still just really starting his professional career.”

Tanielian said his submission was a compilation of three stories -- “Pumpkin Chuckin’,” about people launching pumpkins in Morton; “The Money Man,” about an employee with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office who reunites people with long-lost property or money they didn’t know they had; and “Taylor & Soapes,” the story of an old town bank turned into a gift shop and tea room in Mt. Olive. The winning entry is available for viewing at http://www.rtnda.org/2009MurrowAwards/play/playnational.php?id=1795.

Tanielian has been a reporter at WICS, the ABC affiliate for the Springfield and Decatur market, for two-and-one-half years.

Tanielian won several prestigious student awards while at SIUC, including placing at the national level in contests conducted by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Broadcast Education Association, Helleny said.

“It’s not too much of a surprise that he is continuing to be recognized by his peers,” Helleny said.

Tanielian credits the University for a large part of his success. Colleagues, mentors and other “greats,” like Helleny, WSIU radio reporter Jennifer Fuller, John S. Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and Mike Lawrence, former institute director, were generous with their time when he was a student and continue to provide support, Tanielian said.

SIUC offers students the experience they need the first day they arrive on campus, Tanielian said.

“Other schools make you wait until your junior year. Not SIUC,” he said. “After four years any student will find themselves in a position to get a better job than their peers from other programs because employers and seasoned Salukis know SIUC grads don’t need training. They’re ready for a challenge.”