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College of Media students win big at international competition

College faculty pose with BEA awards
Chuck Scatterday, Gina Dahlia, Emily Corio, Ashton Marra and David Smith pose with awards during the BEA Festival of Media Arts.

West Virginia University Reed College of Media students placed in four categories, including two first-place wins, at the international Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts. This year, BEA received nearly 1,900 submissions from more than 300 participating schools.

2024 BEA Festival of Media Arts winning entries included:

  • Interactive Reality Category 1st Place: Distanced Immersion by Tobias Sherman, Ana de Lucio-Villegas, Colwyn Bordeaux, Ana Blanco Nieto de Castro & Candela Sanchez, West Virginia University and University of Seville (Faculty Advisor David Smith; Smith’s students from the WVU Honors College also won 2nd place for a 360 Recruiting Video)
  • Television Hard News Category 3rd Place: “WVU News” segment by Drug Court; Lara Bonatesta (Faculty Advisors Gina Dahlia and Ashton Marra)
  • Television Newscast (3 days a week or less) 1st Place: “WVU News” Episode 4 by Makenna Leisifer and Tolu Olasoji (Faculty Advisors Gina Dahlia and Ashton Marra)
  • Video Story/Feature (short) Category Award of Excellence: “Mountaineer Playbook” feature, WVU Bridge Day by Elizabeth Carey (Faculty Advisors Chuck Scatterday and Gina Dahlia)

Teaching Associate Professor David Smith leads a variety of interactive storytelling and video courses for the Reed College of Media. In 2021, he developed a partnership with Professor Antonio Roda from the University of Seville to offer a collaborative international course where students work on projects together via Zoom and take a semi-annual study-abroad trip to Spain.

“This international experience – working across both time zones and language barriers – is a unique and ultimately rewarding challenge,” Smith said. “I’m always inspired by watching these students connect and work as a team to create something together, and it’s certainly validating for that project to be recognized by BEA.”

Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Gina Dahlia and Teaching Assistant Professor Ashton Marra co-teach the “WVU News” course, which operates like an actual newsroom with students working as reporters, writers, camera operators, editors, anchors, producers, directors, and technical crew. “Mountaineer Playbook,” taught by longtime ESPN veteran and current Shott Teaching Assistant Professor Chuck Scatterday, provides the same opportunities for students interested in sports broadcast news.

“Our students strive for perfection,” Dahlia said. “’WVU News’ airs on several public platforms, including KDKA-TV’s website and West Virginia Public Broadcasting, so the students feel a sense of responsibility to put their best foot forward. That pays off, not only in the form of national awards, but also in the form of rewarding careers once they graduate.”

WVU also placed in the top 25 in five of BEA’s eight lists of school rankings based on student achievements, including:

  • 16th out of 99 in top overall program
  • 19th out of 33 in top audio program
  • 2nd out of 12 in top interactive multimedia and emerging technology program
  • 9th out of 32 in top news program
  • 24th out of 33 in top sports program

According to BEA, these rankings are an evaluation of the quality and consistency of students’ creative works produced at one institution compared to those at other institutions and are based on the past five-year period of student success.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international media competition focused on student and faculty creative activities sponsored by the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation. In the last five years alone, nearly 7,000 student creative works were submitted from BEA’s more than 300 member institutions around the globe. Entries go through a blind-juried review in the following competitions: Audio, Documentary, Film & Video, Interactive Multimedia & Emerging Technologies, News, Scriptwriting, and Sports. Winners were recognized at the BEA Annual Convention in Las Vegas in April.

Visit for a full list of awards.