Inside the Sorrell Awards
In 1993 the award was renamed the Sorrell Award to commemorate the retirement of Frank Sorell, original PSTV Studio Manager since 1978. In 2005 the honor of judging of the Sorrell Awards were entrusted to the experienced alumni of Plattsburgh State Television. But how does the Sorrell Award judging process actually work? Here's everything you ever wanted to know about the Sorrell Awards... and then more.
First we need to get this semester's student-produced promos online so that alumni judges can view and evaluate the spots from all across the country. Some years the process is different but most often the spots are burned to a DVD and mailed to me in North Carolina.
Like many other awards, sometimes not every promo will reach the judges. In past years up to 24 spots were submitted for one semester. In such a case, I will serve as a one-man nominating committee by narrowing the spots down to about a dozen of the better promos. Those spots will move forward for the judges to consider for the Sorrell Award. It's not a perfect system but our volunteer alumni judges are very busy and just don't have the time evaluate too many spots.
I will then digitize the nominated spots into individual files and upload them to the internet. This year it happens to be all 13 that were submitted. In the past we've used a variety of different file formats, but now we take advantage of Google Video for hosting and playback of the spots. Don't bother searching for them because they're unlisted.
Next we turn it over to our volunteer alumni judges - experienced professionals from all around the country. In order to maintain the integrity of the competition, all judging is completely confidential. Both the judges' identities and the their ballots are secret and known only to me. We also avoid conflicts of interest by requiring that judges graduated more than two years ago and that they do not know any current PSTV students. For more information about becoming an alumni judge, see the judging page.
Judges will first download the ballot, which is a Microsoft Word document. Voting will normally occur over several weeks of time, at the convenience of the judges' busy schedules. The following is the list of criteria used by our volunteer judges to evaluate each promo. (Pay attention undergrads.)
c)Writing - Quality of writing
d)Production - The quality of the videography, lighting, and audio.
e)Post-Production - The quality of the editing, including timing, style, graphics, and effects.
f)Effectiveness - Would it make typical students want to watch PSTV?
Each promo is given a numeric score between 1 (Poor) and 5 (Great) for each of these criteria. An absolutely perfect score would be 5.0 average, or a total of 30 points. This is very rare, and I don't actually think we've ever had a perfect score before. When done, each judge will email their completed ballots to me before the deadline. I will then tabulate all the votes, which will determine the first, second, and third place spots. When the winners are determined I notify Peter Ensel at PSTV of which spots were the top three ranked promos. We do not post the "Best Promo" winners here on the PSTVA website until after the winners are formally announced to the students first.