Nathan Yerges ’13, credits the supportive faculty and staff at Shippensburg University for his Emmy® award-winning success in field of photojournalism this year.
Lucy Davis ’15 and team were the recipients of a National Capital Chesapeake Bay Emmy® award in the category of Coverage – Within 24 Hours for her co-production of “Baltimore’s Mayor Wrapped Up In Scandal: Catherine Pugh Indictment and Guilty Plea” on CBS Baltimore WJZ-TV.
In the category of Crime-News Single Story or Series, photojournalist Nathan Yerges ’13 and team received a Mid-Atlantic Emmy® award for their storytelling in, “Murder or Suicide?”on WHP CBS21.
Gruesome mystery makes compelling news
Yerges noted his winning story was, “kind of a different one”. He explained, “Crime or Suicide?: The Mysterious Death of Ellen Greenburg” was about the cause of death Ellen Greenburg, an elementary school teacher from Dauphin County who was living in Philadelphia with her fiance, who was found dead with 20 stab wounds in her body.”
He continued, “The investigators into the death said that Ellen stabbed herself, ruling it a suicide. Even though it was first ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, it was then changed to suicide by Philadelphia Police. Through this story [investigative reporter] Brian Sheehan sat down with Ellen’s family, the Greenburg’s family lawyer, and a police investigator. We were also able to get a chance to show pictures of what type of stab wounds Ellen had to her body.”
Yerges reviewed his role in the project stating, “While in Philadelphia, we met and interviewed with the Greenburg’s attorney, Joe Podraza. That is where my work came into play; through lighting and shooting the interview, cut-aways of Podraza and our reporter, and shots of what they were looking at on a laptop, as well as making sure the audio was perfect.”
He praised his team members for elevating and artfully incorporating his vision and photojournalism. “Our investigative reporter Brian Sheehan was one of a kind. I always enjoyed working with him and when he asked me to go to Philadelphia to work on the story, I jumped at the chance. [Also] included in the story [was] chief photojournalist, Bill Seiders, who shot the other interviews. Credit to both of them for telling such a great story with my video.”
A news family celebrates recognition
Yerges humbly reminisced on his nomination, “I remember when the category came up, I didn’t think we were going to win. I saw the other competition we were against and just thought we didn’t stand a chance. But then when it happened, I legit screamed at the top of my lungs “YES!!!” I couldn’t believe it. I never thought in all my years that I would ever be good enough to win an award like that. I would always see the stories that won, and think about how much better they are than I am.”
The celebrations that followed demonstrated the unique camaraderie in the news family. Yerges provided insight, “What people might not know about television is that while we may be competitors on air, we are friends and family off. After [we won] came hugs from friends of mine at ABC 27 who I was watching with followed by a phone call to my parents. Hearing my mom tell me how proud she was of me was about the only part of the night I began to tear up. I owe this to my parents and family. The rest of the night was followed by more text messages and phone calls of congratulations and hoping and praying that [co-workers] would eventually win.”
Emmy award-winner credits Shippensburg University for career preparation
While academics certainly play a large role in preparing students at Ship for their future careers, extracurricular activities and advisors sometimes make the strongest impact. Yerges gleamed, “I am very proud still to this day that I chose Shippensburg University over any other university in the state. Through what I learned through my time at SUTV and the SUMB, I can tell great stories and have a great work ethic.”
Dr. Kim Garris, former chair of the communications/journalism department and advisor of SUTV, now chief external affairs officer at Ship, was a notable source of inspiration for Yerges. “I still remember how hard Dr. Garris would push us to tell great stories. Her hard work and dedication to her students and SUTV is one of the main reasons I have a job in my field and am able to tell great stories. Some days while I am out shooting or editing video, I often will ask myself, would Dr. Garris like this in a package? It sounds kind of crazy, but I think most of the students that have gone through her class would understand. Through SUTV, I also made life-long friends, some who have become co-workers and I still interact with to this day.”
In addition to Dr. Garris and SUTV, Yerges credits Trever Famulare, Music and Theatre department chair and Band director, as a lifelong mentor. “I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the SUMB and Professor Trever Famulare. Here at Ship, the SUMB is much more than a marching band. It’s a FAMily, and that is due to what FAM (aka. Famulare) teaches. He doesn’t just prepare and teach you music and sets on a field, he teaches and prepares you for life. He teaches you what it means to have 160 of your closest friends. He teaches you that when you have a bad day, there will always be someone there to pick you up and keep you going. If it wasn’t for FAM and the SUMB, I honestly probably would’ve transferred schools. FAM was more than my band director. He was and still is til this day my mentor and my friend. In fact, I come back as staff… to give back to the organization that gave me so much.”