Setting the pace, WTV Daily Update wins national award


Roy Nitzan

After being named a 2017 NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker winner, WTV Daily Update staff members Mady Daddario, Marisa Uddin, Divya Murali, Wade Glover, and Neha Perumalla pose for a picture in Dallas.

For the first time in school history, the WTV Daily Update was named a NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker at the National High School Journalism Convention held in Dallas Nov. 16 – 19.

“The Pacemaker Award is an preeminent award that many people call the Pulitzer Prize of scholastic journalism,” WTV Daily Update Producer Wade Glover said. “It’s one of the highest awards a program can receive so it’s a really big honor to get it.”

15 high school broadcast programs were nominated as Pacemaker finalists in September with eight receiving the award in Dallas.

Brian Higgins
Wingspan and WTV students Marisa Uddin, Divya Murali, Brooke Colombo, Mady Daddario, Wade Glover, Keegan Williams, Neha Perumalla and Megan Lin hold up their award certificates at the end of the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Dallas.

“Winning the Broadcast Pacemaker Award for the first time ever really means a lot to me because all the stress that goes into making the Daily Update,” WTV Executive Producer Neha Perumalla said. “From early mornings to late nights, off campus filming, and all the technical difficulties, all that stress just means a lot that we get recognition for it on a national level.”

Receiving the award reflects how far WTV has come after starting in August of 2015.

“[Winning Pacemaker] means a lot because my first year here we basically started from nothing and now we’re at the top and I feel so proud because at first I didn’t think we’d come this far,” WTV Daily Update Producer Caitlyn Kleibert said. “I didn’t think I’d come this far as a producer and a leader in the group. It just feels great that our team has come together and has been nominated and won this award.”

In addition to winning the Pacemaker, former WTV Executive Producer Maddie Owens, who graduated in June, received first place in the Broadcast Feature Story category.

“My story was a feature over a girl named Emma Montes who had a baby while in high school,” Owens said. “I wanted to take a different angle on this story and give Emma a chance to tell her side of everything. I interviewed her and her parents and used those as the backbone of the story.”

With only ten finalists in this category nationwide, Owens’ story topped the competition in first place.

“I forgot that we entered this story in the NSPA nominations and when Mr. Higgins texted me that I was a finalist, it automatically reminded me of all the time I put into this feature story,” Owens said. “I knew I wanted to do a longer project like the Emma story before my senior year was over, and I’m glad it all worked out the way it did.”

Roy Nitzan
Winning the 2017 NSPA Broadcast Feature Story of the Year, 2017 graduate Maddie Owens holds up her award.

Owens, who is now studying filmmaking at the University of North Texas, also took home an honorable mention award in the Broadcast Sports Story category.

“Winning first place however gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities,” Owens said. “Trying to find a job with no experience in this industry is really tough so I often get really discouraged, but receiving a first place at a national competition just reminded me that I can do a lot if I just stick to it and have someone like Higgins by my side pushing me to be better.”

WTV and Wingspan took home a variety of other individual awards at the convention.

“I won honorable mention for Broadcast News Story of the Year for my prayer room story from last year,” WTV Special Projects Producer Marisa Uddin said. “I also received excellent honors in Broadcast News Package which is from the on-site competition.“

Wingspan Editor-in-chief Brooke Colombo received an honorable mention award for her story on a proposed police interaction law.

“I’ve been in journalism and newspaper since my freshman year so getting an award like this means the work I’ve been putting in for so long has paid off,” Colombo said. “It was a more serious and in depth topic, and being recognized for a story that has some weight in the real world is pretty rewarding.”

The convention also consisted of various workshops, lectures, and competitions for students from around the nation to compete in such as the online news package story.

Liberty Legacy Yearbook staff members Taylor Bullitt, Simonne Cudmore, Sonika Rao, Samantha Roten, Roy Nitzan, and Lauren Hart (not present in the photo) hold their awards after the closing ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Dallas.

“In the beginning we were sat down with instructions on everything we could and couldn’t do, where we could and could not go,” Perumalla said. “Basically we had six hours to complete an entire video package story with interviews, and we got the prompt on the spot so we had to come up with ideas, a script, and what we would ask in our interviews and who would we interview. It was really stressful, but I think the direction we took with our was creative and unique.”

Perumalla and Uddin received excellence honors in their contest.

“This really means a lot to me because last year we had Maddie Owens who basically carried us through it and we got superior last year,” Perumalla said. “But I think this year because Marisa and I are seniors now, we kind of have to carry it now ourselves. We passed it down from Maddie to us, so it feels really good.”

Other on-site competition award winners from the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention include:

Lauren Hart – Themed Photo – Superior
Brooke Colombo – Feature Writing – Excellent
Wade Glover, Megan Lin, Divya Murali – Online News Package – Excellent
Roy Nitzan – Portrait Photo – Excellent
Neha Perumalla, Marisa Uddin – Broadcast News Package – Excellent
Sonika Rao – Yearbook Cover/Endsheets – Excellent
Samantha Roten – Sports Feature Photography – Excellent
Taylor Bullitt – Literary Magazine: Photography – Honorable Mention
Simone Cudmore – Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics – Honorable Mention
Minuki Medis – Broadcast News Writing – Honorable Mention
Keegan Williams – Sports Writing – Honorable Mention