By Dennis Milligan
Life in 2020, especially as it relates to COVID-19, forced many changes in how we go about our lives and our business of broadcast and digital journalism. The same was true for the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas’ annual award presentation. Normally held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, this year’s awards were presented during a digital conference on Nov. 14.
RTDNAC President Laurabree Monday welcomed participants saying, “We know this is a strange year. We still hope you enjoy this (digital) event. We very much hope to be back at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2021.”
The awards presentation started with keynote thoughts from CNN National Correspondent, Dianne Gallagher, who is now based in Charlotte. She welcomed participants, noting, “This has been one hell of a year and every single one of you deserves to celebrate your accomplishments.”
Gallagher talked about her journey from CN2 News in Rock Hill, to CNN. She had words of encouragement for the digital gathering, as both students and professionals grapple with the current pandemic. “COVID-19 elevated everything. It elevated the need for you, your diligent effort to get the truth to people. At the same time it made doing that so much more difficult.”
“You were often risking your own physical health and mental health to make sure the rest of your community knew what was really happening,” she added.
The awards presentation also featured Rachel Ellis, a reporter for ABC 4 News in Charleston, S.C. Her comments addressed college students in their last year of journalism school. “I was in your shoes a little over a year ago.” “No one could have predicted the curve ball of 2020, it became quickly apparent to me that our jobs have never been so important for the communities we serve.”
As much as things have changed in 2020, CNN’s Gallagher noted that much remained the same for broadcast and digital journalists. “My life has changed, but the basics of building relationships, demanding accountability, telling stories, that hasn’t.”