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Student-produced work earns top honors in national competition

Bodice Project

Students from the West Virginia University Reed College of Media were recognized nationally for their work in broadcast journalism and interactive media this month by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA).

“WVU News”  was named the number one college newscast in the country with a first-place finish in the Television Newscast (airing three days per week or less) category in the 2020 BEA Festival of Media Arts competition.

The winning entry, “ WVU News Special Edition: A Mental Health Crisis in America,” focuses specifically on resources in West Virginia for those struggling with mental illness. Students involved in the project include Executive Producer Jensen Mills, Director Alex Balog and Anchors Victoria Donatelli and Gillian Brooks.

Over the past five years, "WVU News" has won more than 100 regional, national and international awards. This is the fourth time the program has received the top award from BEA under the leadership of teaching professor and journalism program chair Gina Martino Dahlia. “I am extremely proud of the continued success of ‘WVU News,’” Dahlia said. “Winning these high caliber awards is a testament to the quality of our students, faculty and our program.”

In the student interactive multimedia competition, a team of students led by Kristen Uppercue, Mark Schoenster and Savannah Schafer were awarded first place in the Interactive Reality category for their work on “ The Bodice Project,” an immersive walking tour of an exhibit of handcrafted sculptures that represent breast cancer survivors’ stories. Teaching Assistant Professor David Smith is the faculty advisor for the project.

"I had such an amazing experience working on The Bodice Project," said Uppercue. "Not only were my classmates and I able to learn how to tell stories through immersive media, but we had the opportunity to work alongside a meaningful organization and help the exhibit's team reach larger audiences in an innovative way. Finding out that we had won was extremely exciting and rewarding, especially because only one of us had previously worked with this technology before." 

In addition to the first-place wins, Matt Minard earned an “Award of Excellence” in the Television Sports Story/Feature Short category for the entry, “West Virginia Roughriders,” which featured the professional indoor football team based in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international exhibition of faculty creative activities, as well as a national showcase for student works sponsored by the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation. The competition consisted of more than 1,750 entries from 300 colleges and universities in categories such as audio, documentary, film & video, interactive multimedia, news, scriptwriting, sports and two-year colleges. Winners will be recognized at the BEA Annual Convention in Las Vegas in April.

A full list of 2020 BEA Festival of Media Arts winners can be found at