In mid-December the Fort Hays State University INT Department was notified that four students in the fall 2003 electronic newsgathering/electronic field reporting class were honored with the Best PSA 2004 award by Collegiate Broadcasters Inc.
The submission was a bicycle safety public service announcement video created by Taryn Everhart, Dodge City senior, with assistance from Kollissa McVay, Plains senior, Addie Warner, Hutchinson junior, and Brandon Cooley, Hays special student.
" One of the major projects required my class to write and produce a PSA script that was tailored towards college kids," Everhart said. "I thought I'd do mine on bicycle safety since there was a lack of them and it was it was unique topic. So many times people do the same thing, like the dangers of smoking. I just wanted to do something different, so I did some research and wrote a script. The students in the class were the actors."
Over the course of two-and-a-half hours the team shot the footage. Everhart worked the camera and Warner helped with moving shots while McVay and Cooley acted as cyclists.
" I'd never produced and edited PSAs before, so everybody in the class was helping out," Everhart said. "We were all just learning the basics of editing and this really helped us with that."
The final product was a 30-second PSA advocating bicycle safety.
" It was tips about riding your bicycle on campus and things that people forget, like, that you are riding with traffic and making sure that you are very visible and wearing a helmet," said Becky Kiser, assistant professor of information networking and telecommunications. "They actually staged getting hit by a car at the end. It wasn't supposed to be farcical; it was educational."
Entries were submitted in the spring of 2003 into either the television or radio divisions.
Submissions were judged by volunteer broadcast professionals who looked at the technical aspects of each submission such as editing, color balance, framing, continuity, sequencing, run time and audio.
" It's everything that would be required and expected in a professional shot," Kiser said.
" Part of the great thing about entering contests like this is that the judges will critique these pieces and give encouragement and rah-rah what the students did well and ways to improve what wasn't so good. That's really important that the students get that criticism and that critique back and learn from that," Kiser said.
" Granted, some of it's subjective. One judge may like it and the other may not, but there are rules that you follow, and they're looking at that. If you break the rule, they want to be assured that you understand why you broke it and that you broke it for the right reasons," she continued.
" I'm really excited for them because to place at the finals in a national contest is very, very impressive, so I think it speaks well of their talent and initiative and creativity," Kiser said. "This is very prestigious."
The award-winning PSA is occasionally broadcast on KFHS-TV, the university's television station. The station's programming and live news show can be viewed online at www.fhsu.edu/int/kfhstv.
Overall, Everhart said she is happy with the finished PSA and the award.
" Because I shot it about a year and a half ago, there's things that I look back on and think that I should have changed this or that now that I've been through more classes and learned a lot more. You can work on something forever though and nothing's ever truly perfect," Everhart said. "I think for the first project it was very good. I'm proud of it."