Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, turned 50 years old in 2019. The classic book has been revered by many, and even shunned by some, but how has its impact affected American literature and culture? That was the question WFYI and TheStateHouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students, sought to find out when they teamed up to jointly produce a documentary on the definitive book. Their efforts have been awarded with two Emmy nominations, announced last week.
“The Children’s Crusade Revisited: Slaughterhouse-Five at 50,” which premiered in December 2019, is among three nominations in the category of Nostalgia Program – Program/Special/Series, selected by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Lower Great Lakes Chapter. The documentary is also one of six finalists in the Best Writing category. The program also has been picked up for national distribution and will begin airing on PBS stations around the country this summer.
Nine Franklin College students worked on the documentary. Erica Irish of Indianapolis, and Emily Ketterer, of Whiteland, served as assistant producers, videographers, and researchers. Carolina Puga Mendoza of Fishers, Haley Pritchett of Greenwood, Zach Roberts of Zionsville, Hope Shrum of Spencer and Taylor Wooten of Clarksville also worked as videographers. Arianna Lovitt of Greenwood and Victoria Ratliff of Noblesville also joined Puga Mendoza, Pritchett, Shrum and Wooten as researchers.
Pulliam School of Journalism division head Joel Cramer was a field producer for the program and guided the team of videographers on a quest to gather footage and information that took the group to the East Coast and back over the course of three days. Along the way they interviewed Mark Vonnegut, son of Kurt Vonnegut, in Boston, before arriving in Manhattan to speak with Vonnegut scholar Marc Leeds and author and friend of Vonnegut, Sidney Offit. The team also filmed B-roll for the documentary while in New York City.
The news of the Emmy nomination was shared with the Franklin College community via email, as the campus is currently practicing social distancing due to COVID-19. Erica Irish, junior, who serves as executive editor of the college’s student newspaper as well as a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, was impacted by the opportunity to serve on the team that produced the documentary.
“I grew up reading Kurt Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse-Five, a book that hugely influenced my early life as a storyteller,” said Irish. “Having the opportunity to explain the history of this masterwork — and the stories of the people who knew the man who made it possible — was an unparalleled experience that challenged my videography and research skills. I’m so grateful to the Pulliam School of Journalism (PSJ) for the opportunity and for the uplifting, collaborative environment PSJ faculty create for their students, at home and in the field.”
John Krull, director of the Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStateHouseFile.com, was also instrumental in the project, serving as producer of the documentary as well as the liaison between Franklin College and WFYI.
“The most gratifying thing about being nominated is what it says about our students and about the possibilities of education itself,” said Krull. “Telling this story made demands on everyone involved. At every step, our students rose to the challenge and pushed themselves to honor the story. In doing so, they showed how resilient they are – and demonstrated that there are no difficulties that they and we cannot step up to meet. You probably can tell that I’m just a little bit proud of them.”
Krull also touted WFYI Public Media’s contribution to the project.
“This was the third documentary we have done with WFYI that has been nominated for an Emmy,” he said. “Each one has been a fabulous learning experience for students, in large part because the folks at WFYI are such great mentors. We could not ask for better partners.”
The documentary can be viewed at http://www.wfyi.org/programs/childrens-crusade-revisited.
Due to COVID-19, the traditional Emmy Gala will not take place this year. The nominees are still awaiting word on when and how the winners will be announced for this year’s competition.
For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.
POSTED May 11, 2020