WCSU ‘Election Connection 2012’ coverage earns national honors
Telly, Communicator awards recognize innovation in TV, web and social media formats

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University production of live broadcast, Web and social media coverage of regional results in the November 2012 national and state elections has earned two national communications awards recognizing excellence in programming and innovation in use of information technology.

Election Connection 2012,” a four-hour election night broadcast collaboration with Charter Communications that featured a crew of more than 40 WCSU students and faculty members, recently was chosen from more than 12,000 entries as a bronze winner in the 34th annual Telly Awards competition honoring outstanding TV, film and video productions worldwide. The program, produced by WCSU Associate Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. JC Barone, also recently received the Communicator Award of Distinction from the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an elite communications and marketing industry organization that honors works of exceptional quality, innovation, achievement and impact.

The program, broadcast from 8 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 6 from the Charter Cable Access Studio in Newtown, was anchored by a WCSU team of six faculty members and two students who delivered real-time coverage of presidential, congressional and state legislative election results from 15 western Connecticut cities and towns in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties. WCSU students also provided reports from headquarters of the U.S. Senate and Fifth Congressional District candidates.

Organized as part of the fall 2012 “Broadcast Live News and Politics” media arts class in Western’s communication department, “Election Connection” built upon the multi-media programming introduced in the first-ever election night collaboration between WCSU and Charter in November 2011. The 2012 production offered live streaming on the university website, a radio simulcast on the university radio station WXCI-FM, and social media access on Facebook and Twitter. Viewers also were invited to send tweets with comments and questions that were relayed to the anchor team during the broadcast.

“Three years ago, I approached the communication department about doing a show of this scope and focus,” Barone recalled. “We got the green light and premiered in 2011, and it’s been thrilling to work on this program ever since. We’ve built something meaningful for the community and we’re proud of the work we have accomplished. The response to the show has been wonderful and humbling.”

The technical innovations of the “Election Connection” production were showcased in April at the annual convention of the Broadcast Education Association and National Association of Broadcasters, held in Las Vegas. Barone, WCSU Adjunct Professor of Communication Tom Zarecki, and 2013 Western graduates Brittany Nisco and Steve Marucci participated in a BEA panel discussion, “Using Smartphones and Social Media for Production and Distribution.”

Barone observed that professionals attending the panel praised the WCSU program’s “high production values and pioneering use of mobile devices and social media. Our ‘technology cocktail’ included a great mix of traditional and emerging technology thanks to assistance from our IT people at Western.

“A key element in the innovative use of technology and social media in teaching the election course is the enabling atmosphere at WCSU, which supports creativity and experimentation along with proven learning approaches,” he said. “I’m pushing this wagon, but without my department, colleagues, dean and talented students, this project would not have succeeded.”

The positive response to Western’s election night programs in 2011 and 2012 has energized Barone to begin preparations for this year’s production from 8 to 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5. As in previous years, the 2013 program will be broadcast on the Charter community access channel with a WXCI-FM radio simulcast and live streaming on the WCSU website.

“This fall is going to be very exciting locally,” Barone observed. “We’ll be covering the races and the issues in ways that no one else will be doing, and we’ll be integrating even more social media and interactivity into the show this year. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and start working with a new team of students and faculty for this year’s show!”

Barone expressed his gratitude to “the many individuals at Western who selflessly gave so many hours of time, research and talent to ensure the success of our project.” Specifically, he cited “Dr. Katy Wiss (communication department chair) and Dr. Bill Petkanas (professor of communication), for their early insight and support; Liz Popiel (professor of theatre arts), for designing and building the set on a shoestring budget; program anchors Dr. Chris Kukk (professor of political science), Dr. Casey Jordan (professor of justice and law administration), Dr. Truman Keys (assistant professor of communication), Dr. Jay Brower (assistant professor of communication), Dr. Fred Maidment (professor of management) and Dr. D. L. Stephenson (assistant professor of communication); Tammy McVey-Camilleri, for her reporting assistance; Tom Zarecki and sound engineer Pat Carlone, from WXCI-FM; Jason Esposito, Stephen Veillette and Rich Parmalee, from Information Technology and Innovation; Peggy Stewart, WCSU photographer; and Sherri Hill, from University Relations.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 



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