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Could students produce an entire online news show during a pandemic? Remotely? For University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Journalism students, the answer is yes.

people standing on a stage smiling at the camera
UH Mānoa fall 2020 Journalism 470 students

The students not only rose above challenges such as campus closures and physical distancing mandates, but also received Telly Awards for the third consecutive year for UHMtv. The online news series is written and produced by journalism students in the School of Communications in the College of Social Sciences (CSS).

This year’s Telly Awards are a significant recognition for the student teams who were in the midst of writing and producing UHMtv, their online news series, when the pandemic abruptly closed the campus and shuttered the state.

Students were honored in the General—Television category at this year’s 42nd Annual Telly Awards.

  • Silver Telly Award for UHMtv show No. 22: Produced in fall 2020 by student producers Aloha Lau and Elizabeth Ufi, with student anchors Sophia Compton and Sami Jo Sexton. Stories included how Pacific Islanders were helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities; a program giving financial relief to students in need; and an exclusive interview with State House Speaker Scott Saiki.
  • Bronze Telly Award for UHMtv show No. 20: Produced in spring 2020 by student producers Troy Jacobs and Carina Nocon, with student anchors Megan Lucas and Nocon. Stories included UH’s response to the pandemic and subsequent cancelation of commencement ceremonies; how UH commuters could benefit from future plans for the rail project; COVID-19’s grounding of the state’s top skydiving operations; and an exclusive interview with Deputy Prosecutor Tricia Nakamatsu.
  • Bronze Telly Award for UHMtv show No. 19: Produced in spring 2020 by student producers Ronnie Allen Campman, Keila Lee and Chaz Mihara, with student anchors Lee and Campman. Stories included Hawaiʻi’s bleak economy and need to support local restaurants during the coronavirus lockdown; the future of Haʻikū Stairs; the opportunity for student athletes to play an additional year; and an exclusive interview with AARP Director Kealiʻi Lopez.

Production during the pandemic

people on a zoom screen
UH Mānoa spring 2020 Journalism 480 students and their instructors

“I’m very proud of the work we produced,” said Ufi. “It’s not your average homework assignment to do what we did. It took sacrifice and determination, and luckily I was surrounded by people who were willing to do it all.”

With no studio or in-person class time to work on their stories, students turned to Zoom to record interviews online and creatively film their stories from remote locations. Using dorm rooms, backyards and home garages to set up makeshift green screens, they worked remotely to connect with team members and complete the series.

“When the semester turned to online learning, we thought we were going to have to cancel our UHMtv show. We went from seeing each other every day to not at all, but—with some creative thinking—it all worked out,” said Campman. “I filmed the entire show in my childhood bedroom. We took out my bed, night stand and dresser to make room for the studio lights, cameras and green screen, and my bedroom became a news studio!”

Since 2019, CSS journalism students have received seven Telly Awards for their UHMtv series. The Telly Awards is a national competition that recognizes outstanding local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs, video and film productions, as well as online commercials, video and films.

This program is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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