By Michael Maloney
Special to TelevisionWeek
New media is still relatively “new,” but that’s not stopping it from getting an Emmy. The National Television Academy will reward with its own gold statue an entry using an innovative form of communication at this year’s Daytime Emmys.
Veteran news producer/ executive Av Westin, co-chair of the Awards Committee, News and Documentary, for the National TV Academy, said he realized the future influence of new media/broadband when the tsunami hit Thailand in December 2004. “People were using their cellphones to transmit pictures of that event because they were right there,” Mr. Westin said. “I’ve said in speeches across the country that the future of news now rests in the cellphone.”
Mr. Westin and the academy soon surmised that there must be “a body of work [using broadband] that was Emmy-worthy.” Thus, the new Emmy for outstanding content distributed via nontraditional delivery platforms was created. Entries in the category cover a wide range of subjects, formats and distribution systems, including dramas created for the Internet, music programming, citizen journalism and sports coverage-in essence, anything that was originally created for broadband, whether it’s delivered by cellphone, video iPod, the Internet or other new media.
Giving broadband producers an award on national TV serves a twofold purpose: In addition to honoring quality material, Mr. Westin said, “[The presentation] will reinforce to the public that [this way of delivering information] is serious. It’s not just people doing it in their garage or basement. I’ve seen names on applications from major production companies to [unknowns], so the submissions run the gamut.”
Entries were still being sent in at press time, but the number of submissions is expected to far exceed those in the traditional categories. “It gives you the sense of how producers and the public are already aware of how important this is,” Mr. Westin said. To qualify, entries must have been broadcast between Jan. 1, 2005, and March 1, 2006, must have been available to at least 51 percent of the country and must not exceed 20 minutes in length. Added Mr. Westin, “We’re judging how producers take advantage of the challenges and the limitations-and in some cases, no limitations-of packaging information and content.”
The new Emmy is being handed out at the Daytime Emmys, though submissions aren’t limited to having been broadcast during the day. Might there someday be an entire Emmy Awards show for new media entries (no doubt to be viewed on iPods and computers)? “I think the door is open to seeing this kind of award expand in terms of its scope,” Mr. Westin said. “We may see [both] this award and this form of programming transcend what is traditional.”