The Medal of Honor Project will create numerous pieces of media related to the Medal of Honor and its recipients. Print, video and multimedia stories will be produced by students, faculty and staff of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. These projects will be produced both for courses with in our curriculum and as voluntary extracurricular activities. The Medal of Honor Project, as a student media group, will focus primarily on three video productions:
1) A feature-length documentary chronicling the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention. The production is being done in coordination with the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention and is funded, in part, by the College of Communication and Information at The University of Tennessee. This documentary will serve as a historic document for the Medal of Honor Society, the 2014 convention planners, the community and the university. Students, faculty and staff of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media have started shooting background interviews with the people who helped bring the convention to Knoxville (e.g., convention co-chairman Joe Thompson and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett). We will also be traveling to Gettysburg in September to attend the 2013 convention, where Knoxville will officially be passed the society’s flag. Over the next year, we will continue shooting interviews with people involved in the planning of convention and prepping for our coverage of the 2014 convention. Principal shooting for this piece will occur during the 2014 convention. The documentary will be edited in Fall 2014 and released in early 2015.
2) We are also working on a documentary on the history of the Medal of Honor in Tennessee. The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 32 residents of the state of Tennessee. The recipients include soldiers from as far back as the Civil War and as recent as the Vietnam War. We will tell their stories through archival footage, historic research, and interviews with their surviving relatives. We have begun production of this documentary.
3) Finally, we will be creating a documentary telling the stories of the wives and widows of Medal of Honor recipients. Sadly, the stories of the these heroic women have not been discussed enough. We will shine a light on these brave Americans and tell the stories of their unwavering service. We plan on interviewing as many of the living wives and widows of the Medal of Honor recipients as possible. We will aim to do many of these interviews during the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention, but will also travel to the homes of many of the women. We are currently seeking grant funding for this project.
The goal of the Medal of Honor Project is to instill an appreciation and understanding of both community-based journalism and military reporting in our students. In order to accomplish this goal, Medal of Honor and military-related reporting assignments have been integrated into numerous classes within our curriculum. Here are some of the classes which have or are working with the Medal of Honor Project:
- JEM 175: Principles & History of Journalism & Media – Students in our introductory journalism class will conduct research on various aspects of Knoxville’s military history, the Medal of Honor and the recipients. The research they pull together will be used by senior Medal of Honor Project students to create interactive graphics and multimedia presentations.
- JEM 367: Mass Communication History – Students in our journalism history class will research the media coverage of Medal of Honor recipients from various eras (i.e., WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the wars on terrorism). Along with their research, each group of students will conduct an interview with the recipient they researched.
- JEM 336: Video Production – Our junior-level video production class will create feature broadcast stories about topics related to the Medal of Honor and the upcoming convention. For example, one set of students will produce a story about Buck Karnes Bridge in Knoxville and another set will cover the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial in World’s Fair Park.
- JEM 360: Electronic Media Performance – Students in our performance class will create audio stories profiling veterans from the East Tennessee region. The students will interview vetrans from all branches of the service and from various time periods. The stories will be combined into a single presentation showing the common themes running through all soldiers.
The Medal of Honor Project has also formed a relationship with the School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Tennessee. Starting in Spring 2014, students in introductory public relations courses (PBRL 320: Public Relations Communication) will use the Medal of Honor Project as a client and work with our students and staff to create press releases, fact sheets and other supporting material.
Beyond our in-class learning, the School of Journalism and Electronic Media and the Medal of Honor Project will also be hosting numerous seminars covering all aspects of military reporting. We will work to make all seminars open to both UT students and working journalists in the East Tennessee region.
Finally, the Medal of Honor Project will serve as the basis of at least one honors thesis and one master’s thesis.
Nick Geidner, Ph.D., an assistant professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, is the director of the Medal of Honor Project. Geidner received his doctorate in mass communication from The Ohio State University in 2011. His research has been published in numerous academic journals and presented at national and international conferences. Geidner teaches data journalism and reporting classes in the undergraduate curriculum and quantitative methodology at the doctoral level. Before graduate school, he worked in print, web and television journalism. Geidner lives in Knoxville with his wife, Shelby, and son, Henry.