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Journalism, storytelling lead ESPN at the New York Festivals Awards

Craig Bengtson, vice president, SportsCenter, accepted awards won by the show and the Features Unit at the 2013 New York Festivals International Film and TV Awards on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
ESPN’s Craig Bengtson, vice president, SportsCenter, accepted awards won by the show and the Features Unit at the 2013 New York Festivals International Film and TV Awards. (Credit: Copywright Marc Bryan-Brown).

For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN was named Broadcaster of the Year at the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

ESPN’s 40 medals led the competition, which attracts entrants from all corners of the globe. The network’s stellar night was largely a result of the outstanding work done in the areas of enterprise journalism and storytelling.

The Cross Platform Newsgathering Unit’s Features Team –– whose work appears on a variety of programming, including SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and College GameDay — earned 13 medals, while E:60 brought home 11. Significantly, most of these honors were for categories that included all manner of subject material, largely from news organizations and not limited to sports topics.

“Excellence, innovation and storytelling have always been ESPN hallmarks and we’re thrilled the NY Festivals Awards have again recognized these qualities and we are proud to again be named Broadcaster of the Year,” said ESPN Executive Vice President, Production, John Wildhack. “Led by SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and E:60, our shows are distinguished by features that that inform, entertain and often break new ground.”

The Features Unit is led by senior coordinating producer Victor Vitarelli, who notes with pride the group’s work is quite diverse.

“Winning 13 medals is a great accomplishment for the Features Unit,” he said, “but while it’s nice to be recognized with that many awards, I was more excited to see the variety of content that was honored. We won in categories for short-form features, long-form features and hour-long specials. Our people are extremely dedicated and work tremendously hard 52 weeks a year. It is nice to see their efforts pay off.”

Similarly, E:60 senior coordinating producer Andy Tennant was gratified with the range of categories the honors covered, as well as for the ability to pursue such stories, wherever they may be.

“The E:60 team was recognized for its work in journalism, biographies, interviews and in drawing attention to medical and social issues,” Tennant said. “This is not only a true testament to the passion and curiosity of our people, but to the opportunity ESPN has given us. We pursue stories everywhere from Bahrain, Bhopal, Jerusalem and The Sudan to the streets of Philadelphia for the unlikely topic of urban polo. It is unique in sports television to make such a significant investment in long-form journalism.”

It was also a special night for everyone associated with the X Games. A new category debuted — Best Technical Production Team — and last year’s X Games event in Aspen, Colo., was the top honoree. Jodi Markley, senior vice president, operations, was on hand to accept the trophy with Chris Calcinari, vice president, remote production operations.

Photography © Marc Bryan-Brown Jodi Markley, senior vice president, operations, accepted the trophy as the top honoree in a new category at the NY Festivals Awards -- Best Technical Production team.  She was joined by Chris Calcinari, vice president, remote production operations.

Jodi Markley, senior vice president, operations, accepted the trophy as the top honoree in a new category at the NY Festivals Awards — Best Technical Production team. She was joined by Chris Calcinari, vice president, remote production operations.
(Credit: Copywright Marc Bryan-Brown)

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