An honor

Talon Lauriello

Shawnee High School grad among 14 students from Montclair State University to win College Television award

And the winner for News category goes to … fourteen students from Montclair State University for their coverage on New Orleans/Raging Storms.

Among those students is Talon Lauriello, a Shawnee High School graduate.

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The annual College Television Awards recognizes and rewards excellence in student-produced programs from colleges across the country. Winners in the competition were announced by television stars at the red-carpet awards ceremony April 1 at the Television Academy in North Hollywood, Calif.

Lauriello served as producer and writer on the project, which was selected from over 132 submissions from colleges and universities nationwide by the Television Academy.

New Orleans/Raging Storms, a Montclair News Lab Special Edition, focuses on a group of student journalists who travel to New Orleans to report on two key issues: climate change and racial injustice. There were 14 students and two professors on the trip. Most split into pairs of two to work on pre- and post-production. Some opted to work alone and flex around to help others.

Fourteen students from Montclair State University win College Television award for their coverage on New Orleans/Raging Storms. PHOTO COURTESY OF TELEVISION ACADEMY

The production phase in New Orleans

About halfway through the week Professor David Sanders got COVID. This proved problematic because the professors were the only ones that could drive to and from shoots. The dedication these young people showed was unmatched especially after Producer Kaya Maciak also got sick. At the time, she still had a day of shooting left and couldn’t go. Due to her extensive pre-production, the students were able to jump on her projects and finished the production for her. Unfortunately, as the week went on things became more difficult, but the students were prepared and did what needed to be done.

“As a producer I wrote, shot, and edited my own package,” Lauriello said. “My package was about The Musicians Village, a sanctuary for musicians who lost their homes or couldn’t afford one after Hurricane Katrina (in 2005). It is a Habitat for Humanity project where future residents of the village built their own homes in a community environment.”

Lauriello said he shot for two days in New Orleans, which included three interviews and B-roll.

“Whenever I was not shooting my project, I was off on another student’s set helping to shoot theirs,” he said. “Once the trip was over, I did all the editing for my package myself with feedback from the class. I also helped others with the editing process as well. I knew more technically than most other students on the trip, so I agreed to help shoot many projects and teach technical ability. I saw myself as a tech leader and I took that job very seriously in trying to make every student understand how to make their projects look and sound great.”

Aside from having the experience of creating and taking the lead on projects, on being nominated Lauriello said, “It was an honor to be nominated for a College Television Award. From the start we planned to submit this program to award shows. The last travel reporting trip to Puerto Rico from our school won awards. So, the whole time we tried to reach, if not exceed the production value of that show to win an award of our own and I am really glad we did. When I was in high school I had a documentary of mine accepted into the Princeton Film Festival, but it was not on this magnitude, and I also did not win.”

While discussing the project Lauriello talked about what it was like working with his peers.

“When I work with others I am good at surrendering to their strengths and they do the same for me,” he said. “For example, almost everyone is a better writer than me and so my partner in this situation would be the main writer and I would help and learn. Production and post production are where I shine so I often will take a bigger lead in those roles and my partner will help and learn. When I do work with a partner this is how we will do it to prevent butting heads and we each get expert help at what we can improve on.”

Lauriello earned his bachelor’s degree in television production in 2022 from Montclair State University.

The College Television Awards

Nominees and winners automatically earn a spot as members of the Television Academy’s alumni family. The Television Academy Foundation was established in 1959. It is the foundation’s mission to preserve the legacy of television all while inspiring the next generation of creatives like Lauriello and his peers.

According to the press release the 2023 winners were presented awards by top television
stars including Ginger Gonzaga (She Hulk, Attorney at Law, True Lies); Christine Ko (Only
Murders in the Building, Dave); Jaren Lewison (Never Have I Ever); Camilla Luddington
(Grey’s Anatomy); Nathan Mitchell (The Boys; Ginny & Georgia); Lauren Potter (Glee); Olly Sholotan (Bel-Air) and Emmy-winning documentary producer/director and Foundation alumna Shari Cookson.


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