April 30, 2013

‘alt.news 26:46’ again wins top national honor

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- For the sixth time in the program’s 14-year history, “alt.news 26:46” is tops in the nation when it comes to college television news magazine programs.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s student-produced program won the College Television Award during the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s 34th annual College Television Awards ceremony April 25, in Los Angeles, Calif.

The winning episode, which aired Jan. 20, beat out submissions from Florida A&M University and Emerson College, which finished second and third, respectively.

“Winning first prize is a great achievement, but keeping this up again and again is a testimony for the high quality of education that students in MCMA are receiving, professionally and creatively, and the talent and dedication of both students and faculty,” said Dafna Lemish, interim dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

Lemish also congratulated associate professor Jan Thompson, an award-winning documentary film producer who serves as faculty adviser.

Haley Conner, a senior in radio, television and digital media from Du Quoin, and Cara Gordon, a senior from Ballwin, Mo., who has a double major in cinema and political science, were the program’s executive producers.

Conner, who is specializing in video production and electronic journalism, said she’s very proud of the hard work that went into this season.  She and Gordon were both in their second year with the program, and six of 11 staff members were new.  The unique experience is great preparation for the industry, she said.

Conner said everyone came together quickly to learn how to produce alt.news, “a show that comes with a lot of precedence and a lot to live up to.”  The nomination validates the hard work the staff put into the season, and winning the award is “the best way to end what has been a challenging, but wonderful and life-changing experience working with alt.news,” she said.

The winning episode took a look at Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra accessible amusement park in San Antonio, Texas, an exotic wildlife ranch in Glen Rose, Texas, a “Cathedral of junk” 20 years in the making, and a 12-mile Tough Mudder course in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

“This is a wonderful achievement for our students to continue to compete at the national level against high-powered schools and to bring in the top award,” Thompson said.

According to current alt.news records, the show’s national College Television Awards came in 2000, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013, to go along with two second-place finishes and one third-place finish.  In addition, since 2001, the program has earned 30 regional Emmys -- 28 from NATAS’ Mid-America chapter in St. Louis and two from the Chicago Midwest Chapter.

Alt.news 26:46 airs on WSIU-TV Channel 8/16.  The season finale featuring a new short film, “Watermelon Falls,” which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production, is at 10 p.m., Sunday, May 5. More information is available at altnews2646.com/.