October 24, 2011

Jan Thompson, ‘alt.news 26:46’ capture awards

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- “Alt.news 26:46,” the student-produced television news program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, continues to earn praise from industry professionals.

The award-winning half-hour alternative TV news magazine earned an Emmy on Saturday, Oct. 22, from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Regional Chapter during ceremonies at the Renaissance Grand St. Louis.  Alt.news 26:46 earned the Emmy in the specialty program category.

In addition, Jan Thompson, an associate professor in radio-television, earned an Emmy in connection with her half-hour documentary, “The Tragedy of Bataan,” which originally aired in spring 2010 on WSIU-TV.  Thompson is also the alt.news 26:46 faculty adviser.  Thompson earned an Emmy in the writer: program/program feature (non-news) category.

Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said the college is proud of both Thompson and the alt.news student team for their Emmy wins this year.           

Thompson “continues to produce award-winning documentary work and this latest project on the Bataan Death March veterans is a valuable contribution to history and a great tribute to the soldiers who were caught up in that tragedy,” he said.  “The alt.news team continues their winning streak and has built a lasting legacy at SIU Carbondale.  Their continued success is an inspiration.”

The award-winning program was episode 1205, which aired March 27, and took a look at the music scene with “Less Than Jake,” “Here Come the Mummies,” “The Punch Brothers,” and “Dickwolf.”  Segment producers for the show were Susan Shirclifff, a senior in cinema from Prospect, Ky., and Kevin Ryan, a senior in cinema from Springfield.

Dylan Damian and Kelly E. Reed were the program’s executive producers for the two shows nominated.  Damian, who is from Carbondale, is a senior with a double major in television production and cinema, and will graduate in May 2012. Reed, who is from Grayslake, graduated in May with a degree in cinema.

Alt.news also earned an Emmy nomination in August for best news show.

This is the 30th overall regional Emmy for alt.news 26:46 dating back to 2001.  Of those awards, 28 are from NATAS’ Mid-America chapter in St. Louis and two are from the Chicago Midwest Chapter.

“The dynasty continues and it shows the dedication that our students have for reaching and achieving excellence,” Thompson said.

According to current alt.news records, the show won five national College Television Awards in the last 12 years -- 2000, 2001, 2008, 2009, and 2011, to go with two second-place finishes and one third-place finish.

“Once again, our students prove to themselves and to others that beyond their talents and the skills that they acquire while in our programs, it is the teamwork, collaboration, dedication and passion that they bring to their creative work which makes them stand out consistently year after year,” said Dafna Lemish, chair of the Department of Radio-Television.

“Competing and winning on a professional level is a huge recognition of the kind of students that we attract and the opportunities they are being offered in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts to spread their wings and excel,” she said.

Thompson’s win marks her third regional Emmy in her career, to go along with 14 nominations. Thompson also earned nominations in the documentary/historical, and musical composition/arrangements.

The documentary features first-hand accounts from 15 Bataan Death March survivors.  Between 5,000 and 15,000 of the more than 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners did not survive the 65-mile forced march in the spring of 1942.

An updated version of the half-hour documentary will air nationally on PBS stations this fall with actor Alec Baldwin doing the narration.  WSIU-TV will broadcast the documentary at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11.

“We are so proud to have faculty members such as Jan Thompson who are talented and productive artists in their own right to serve as role models for our students,” Lemish said.  “This particular documentary is a milestone in Jan’s career, a project she is deeply invested in that fills a black hole in the history of the Second World War. The determination, devotion, hard work and talent that she put in this project are exemplary. This award signals to our students that they can use media not only as a career for themselves, but also as a way to make a difference in the world.”