Bluefield College paid tribute to the work of local journalists during its 12th Annual Media Appreciation Day, April 29, which featured remarks from international journalist Brandy Campbell and the presentation of a $1,000 award for excellence in media.
Since 2000, Bluefield College has hosted the area’s media professionals on campus for a luncheon, keynote address and media-student roundtable, all part of Media Appreciation Day. The event, according to BC officials, is designed to “recognize area media representatives for their efforts in promoting Bluefield College and serving the community.”
“This is an opportunity for us to express our appreciation for the role you serve in our community,” said BC president, Dr. David Olive, who greeted the media guests from seven different local print and broadcast organizations, “for the ways in which you inform the community, and the ways in which you tell the Bluefield College story.”
As part of the recognition for the day, the college presented two Shott Excellence-in-Media Awards, made possible by the generosity of media entrepreneur Michael Shott and his North Point Foundation in an effort to help preserve the legacy of the Shott family who pioneered the presence of news media in the Bluefield area.
The Shott Excellence-in-Media Journalist Award, featuring a $1,000 cash prize and designed to recognize a local member of the media who demonstrates excellence in his or her vocation and who, through his or her work in journalism, makes a significant contribution toward the local community, went to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s chief photographer Eric DiNovo, who outshined 14 other nominees from seven different organizations.
“He is most deserving of this award,” said BC public relations director Chris Shoemaker, who helped James ‘Smokey’ Shott present the Excellence Awards. “Throughout his career, he has helped document the history of our region through photographs. He has covered news events, large and small, bringing incredible images of fires, floods, accidents, events and celebrations to thousands of readers.”
DiNovo began his photojournalism career as a freelance photographer at the Steubenville Herald Star in Ohio. He came to Bluefield in 1996 to become a staff photographer for the Daily Telegraph, where during his 15-year tenure he has earned numerous awards for his photography, including a first place honor in the West Virginia Better Newspaper Contest.
“News photographers are often the unsung heroes of the newspaper business,” said BDT publisher Darryl Hudson. “However, a newspaper without photos would only tell part of the story. All of us on the newspaper staff are extremely proud of Eric’s body of work and his dedication to the job.”
The Shott Excellence-in-Media Student Award, featuring a $1,000 scholarship and designed to recognize a current BC communications student who demonstrates excellence in the classroom and in his or her extracurricular communications activities, went to junior Lydia Freeman of Bristol, Virginia, who serves as editor of the school newspaper, a blogger for the college’s website, a work study for Admissions, a tutor for the Writing Center, and a member of the Student Union Board and Honor Code Committee.
“She is an exemplary student with a true gift for writing,” said Shoemaker. “In classes ranging from basic news reporting to communications law and ethics, she is inquisitive and thorough, the sort of student who raises the standard and level of discussion in all classes she takes.”
Freeman is also the recipient of BC’s 2011 Communications Award and 2011 Colley Rampage Award. In addition, she is a creative media intern and a freelance writer for a local newspaper.
“Her dream has always been to write,” said Professor Mimi Merritt. “She is a highly principled budding journalist who brings vitality to every task with which she is challenged.”
The BC Media Day program also included a keynote speech from Campbell, a feature writer for Compassion International, a non-profit ministry that serves more than one million children in poverty in 26 countries. Through her work at Compassion, Campbell has traveled to Ethiopia, West Africa, Guatemala, and Haiti to write stories that “move grown men to tears” in support of Compassion’s ministry.
“When we tell someone’s story, whether it is the story of a child living in a tent city, or a father living in grief, or a mother living on the streets, or a politician living in a mansion, we need to tell those stories with respect,” Campbell told her colleagues. “It’s easy to think of the people you’re writing about as subjects, a means to an end, but they’re people. Treat them with dignity.”
Campbell challenged the media professionals not to be afraid of telling the sad stories and to always tell the truth, even when writing about people who are dishonest or when revealing ugly truths. In addition, she encouraged her colleagues to embrace the profession.
“I find comfort in the fact that storytelling is an ageless art,” Campbell said. “Sure, the medium has changed, evolving from cave drawings to books to magazines to blogs. It is an ever-changing art, but I believe humans have an innate need for stories, and I am honored to be one of those storytellers.”
BC’s Media Appreciation Day also included a roundtable discussion between members of the media and BC communications students. During the roundtable, the students and journalists discussed, among other issues and topics, the fears and challenges of the job, how best to prepare for a career in journalism, the advantages of diversifying your skills, and how technology and social media have changed the industry.