Words By Brianna Behrens
The Montclair School of Communication and Media (SCM) student-run project, #FocusDemocracy was nominated for a 2020 Cablefax Program Awards alongside Nickelodeon and Newsy. The SCM students produced a one-hour special of the 2020 presidential election that captured national attention and received the Cablefax nomination.
The #FocusDemocracy special aired on November 12, 2020 and featured experts surrounding election issues in New Jersey. The #FocusDemocracy narrative covered the need for racial justice and how the election was an important factor in sparking this necessary change. Students and faculty participated in the discussion, sharing their experiences and perspectives on topics including the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice in the context of democracy.
Senior producer of the project, Katie Cameron, was surprised and excited about the nomination. “I am so glad our work was able to be seen. We worked tirelessly on this show, and to be able to have other people watch and notice our work, after thinking they’d never be able to, is such a gratifying feeling.” The original plan was to host a live show on election night, but after receiving news of an onsite team member testing positive for COVID-19, the students quickly adapted. Katie expressed how determined the SCM students were to execute their vision for the project. “This experience has taught me never to let obstacles get in the way and to keep pushing no matter what life throws at you.”
Mark Effron, the NewsLab coordinator and SCM professor of journalism, said, “What was particularly impressive is how well our students’ work stacked up alongside some of the nation’s biggest media brands like Nickelodeon and Scripps Media. It’s a testament to their creativity and quality of education they are receiving at the School of Communication and Media.”
Students from WSMC, The Montclarion, and The News Lab collaborated to produce content across various platforms for #FocusDemocracy. The project involved social media, radio, and television promotion to drive awareness and engagement with the cause. The #Focus initiatives allowed SCM students to incorporate their skill sets in journalism, digital media creation, and public relations strategies throughout the production process. #FocusDemocracy is one of four student-developed initiatives, including #FocusImmigration, #FocusClimateChange and #FocusRacialJustice. Each semester, students work on a new #Focus initiative project.
The Cablefax Program awards shed light on exemplary content on various platforms that target specific audiences. These awards recognize B2B organizations and their outstanding programming across all forms of media. For more information on the #FocusDemocracy initiative, visit www.focusdemocracy.org.