by Sarah Beth Costello
On June 6, senior Randy Gyllenhaal received the recognition of a lifetime for
a college student interested in broadcast journalism. He was named the best collegiate television journalist in the nation by the Hearst Foundation.
After ranking third in the Hearst Journalism Awards news broadcast competition earlier in the year, he was flown out to San Francisco where he was given 48 hours to conceive an idea and shoot and edit the story for a final round of judging.
“I came in thinking, ‘what would make for good video and sound?’ I knew a good place would be to find a fishing boat,” Gyllenhaal said.
San Francisco was foreign to Gyllenhaal, who had never been to the city before. His only company was a cameraman. Without access to the Internet, Gyllenhaal would have been lost.
“Google Maps became my best friend,” said Gyllenhaal, who relied completely on his cell phone to map out locations.
With little time to spare, Gyllenhaal conceived a plan. Knowing that the fishing industry was suffering with the current status of the economy, he decided to look into it.
Gyllenhaal went to the docks and interviewed local fishermen. He also visited seafood restaurants and even talked to an economic specialist on the seafood industry.
Gyllenhaal experienced mixed emotions after turning in the edited video that would determine the outcome of the competition.
“I thought I’d get third place again, maybe second,” said Gyllenhaal, who said he was impressed by the many talented and gifted students he was competing against.
Though Gyllenhaal produced quality work, he said he was still stunned to hear the results of the competition.
Gyllenhaal received $5,000 for ranking first among the top schools in the nation.
“I kept hearing really good things about Elon,” Gyllenhaal said. “I hope more students from Elon get the opportunity to go to San Francisco for the awards ceremony.”
The Hearst Journalism Awards Program provides an opportunity for college students in the United States to enter projects in different categories, including writing, photojournalism, broadcast news and multimedia. This competition is extremely competitive, and has been compared to the Pulitzer of college journalism.
Gyllenhaal entered videos in the news and features sections of the Hearst Journalism Awards Program during the past two years but never received top prizes.
In 2008, he placed 11th for hard news and 17th for features in the broadcast category, which he said gave him hope for a higher ranking in the 2009 competition. Gyllenhaal said he learned to keep trying and not give up.
He said he encourages students to enter this competition in the many different sections. But he mentioned the importance of not becoming consumed with winning awards.
“One of my professors tells us ‘We don’t do work for an award, we do award-winning work,'” Gyllenhaal said.