Student journalists had the privilege of attending and taking part in the Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala on October 22nd. The event, which took place at Gotham Hall in New York City, brought in 500 guests from all around the country who spent the evening recognizing the very best in journalism. Accomplished journalists Harry Smith, Steven Portnoy and David Muir were among the crowd and gave students their input on how to peruse successful careers in journalism.
Along with six students from Emerson College, four students from the University of Connecticut journalism department attended the awards to complete various reporting tasks throughout evening through the RTDNA Student Newsroom program. Amanda Cabral and Daniela Doncel had the opportunity to interview Steven Portnoy of CBS and talk to winners about journalism’s impact. Lindsey Kane and I were assigned to interview students in journalism, as well as NBC’s Harry Smith about the significance of the event, who said, “Everyone is pursuing the same goal; to tell the best stories and the most important stories possible, and tell them as effectively as possible.”
Five Student Murrow categories and several professional-level awards recognized dozens students and faculty for their work in journalism at esteemed universities throughout the country. Zach Putnam, a two-time Student Murrow Award winner and this year's Excellence in Video Reporting recipient for In My Backyard, spoke to us about the role of students in journalism. Putnam said he thinks students are more important than ever because “The next generation of journalists is the one who is going to redefine [the field].” Putnam said he believes there is a lack of understanding of “what’s true and what’s not” and it is up to student journalists to help people make the distinction between the truth and misinformation or disinformation.
Not all of the student winners were traditional journalism students. Student Murrow winner David Doochin, who was recognized as part of the Carolina Connection's Excellence in Audio Newscast team, spoke to the University of Connecticut students about the importance of journalism throughout his college career, even though it was not his field of study. Doochin attributes his fascination with journalism to his curiosity about people and their own personal stories.
In the days following the Murrow Awards, I reached out to Vincent Duffy of Michigan Radio, who had plenty of insight regarding the future of journalism.
“This career requires a thick skin,” Duffy said. “Journalists can expect to be criticized not only by public officials, but also members of the public themselves. The best way to defend against these attacks is to be error free in your stories.”
Duffy emphasized the importance of accuracy in reporting. He said that journalists should always make sure that the information they report on is correct, and that everything should be double-checked before being given to the editor. “When you do make an error, own it and correct it.”
Duffy also said “Strong writing, good interviewing and storytelling techniques, and a curiosity about the world around you will always be necessary no matter what the future holds.”
The reporters of the RTDNA Student Newsroom had a profoundly informative and memorable time at the Edward R. Murrow Awards. We all agreed that it was the honor of a lifetime to share a space with so many accomplished names in journalism and be given the tools and responsibility to work in their shadows.