When Madeline Bowne was in the fourth grade, she discovered her love of videography. While creating music videos and a pretend television show with her sister, this new passion took hold, and eight years later, Bowne has much to show for it.
The Cherry Hill High School East senior is now an award-winning videographer, her latest honor a second-place win in the C-SPAN StudentCam 2016 Competition for her political documentary, “When the House Becomes a Home.”
“I was very excited,” Bowne said of the win. “My whole family was very happy.”
This is the sixth C-SPAN StudentCam award for Bowne, who started entering the contest in the seventh grade, and it’s also the last year she can enter the competition since she will be graduating high school this spring.
“I thought it was my best documentary so far. Especially after five years of winning, I knew it measured up to my ones in the past,” Bowne said. “It was nice to close off my tradition of doing the C-SPAN student competitions with another second place.”
The documentary, which took Bowne approximately two and a half months to complete, started out focusing solely on political term limits, but as Bowne’s research got underway, her focus shifted.
“I thought it was an interesting argument that’s been gaining more attention, this idea that we should have term limits on members of our House of Representatives and senators just as we have term limits on our president,” Bowne said.
Once she began her research, however, Bowne realized there was more than term limits coming into play with the corruption in Congress, such as campaign finance reform. The expansion of her topic created Bowne’s biggest challenge: detailing everything in less than seven minutes, which is the time limit for the contest.
“It’s difficult containing the documentary to seven minutes. There’s a lot more I would have liked to expand on, but I feel like I did a pretty good job in showing the different sides within the time restriction,” Bowne said.
In addition to her six C-SPAN awards, Bowne has won two WHYY Youth Media Awards. She works as a professional videographer, volunteers with the Cherry Hill Police Department in creating public service announcements and is the video editor for the Cherry Hill High School East award-winning student newspaper, Eastside.
Her interests, however, don’t end with videography. She is president of the Cum Laude society of scholars at East, vice president of the school’s Women in Science club and plays in the marching band, symphonic band and pit orchestra. During Bowne’s sophomore and junior years, she was the public outreach director for East’s Txt L8r, Drive Now campaign, which she started with friends to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
And she does all of this while maintaining a spot on the honor roll.
Bowne’s advice for budding journalists? Get digital.
“I’ve noticed that digital media is the future of journalism … You need to have a tool belt — you need to be able to write, you need to be able to report and you need to be able to do film and video,” Bowne said. “Learn how to master digital media to some extent. It’s very important. It is the new frontier.”
Bowne was awarded $1,500 for her second place C-SPAN StudentCam Competition finish. Her documentary will air on C-SPAN at 6:50 a.m. on Friday, April 22, and can also be seen at www.studentcam.org.