CoJMC alum part of an Emmy award-winning team

CoJMC alum part of an Emmy award-winning team

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 4:15pm

by Molly Roe

Michael B. Justice, a 1996 broadcasting and news-editorial graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications, was recently part of a six-person team with NASA and SpaceX that won a National Emmy Award for the show “NASA and SpaceX: The Interactive Demo-1 Launch.”

Justice, who produced the show, and members of the coverage team from Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Johnson Space Center and SpaceX took to the stage in Los Angeles on Saturday, Sept. 14, to accept the Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Program.

“I still can’t believe it,” Justice said. “From being nominated to walking the red carpet, then hearing our name called as winners...the entire experience has been incredible. Standing on stage with my team, surrounded by so many talented people in the theater - the moment is so surreal and it flies by so quickly.”

Justice is the senior multimedia producer at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Justice works for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) Federal, a NASA contractor partner, along with a team of producers, directors, engineers, cinematographers, photographers and writers who serve as part of the agency’s Public Affairs team. 

The award-winning project focused on telling the story of the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon on the uncrewed Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station. Ultimately, the March 2, 2019, launch was a test for future manned missions to space. According to ASRC Federal, the launch introduced the beginning of a new chapter in spaceflight and called for a new approach to the broadcast. 

This new approach involved combining efforts with SpaceX and NASA centers to provide a singular, uniform program across various media channels and platforms including NASA TV, YouTube, nasa.gov and spacex.com. The team also encouraged viewer engagement and answered various questions during the live broadcast. 

Justice said the coverage of the 2017 solar eclipse prepared him for the event. He and the NASA team got firsthand experience broadcasting from multiple locations across the country, monitoring and sharing viewer comments, and managing many moving parts over the course of a four-hour show that spanned the entire United States. 

“That eclipse show was a beast. Billions of eyes, in one way or another, viewed our coverage,” Justice said. “It certainly helped to have that under our belts when preparing for Demo-1.”

NASA and SpaceX collaborated on the interactive project, blending traditional elements such as countdown updates and in-depth coverage of the mission with social media influencers and users around the world.

The broadcast was up against steep competition in its category, ultimately beating “Conan,” “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

During his time as a student at Nebraska, Justice was a columnist at the Daily Nebraskan and worked at KRNU, studying with other successful alums such as Jeff Zeleny of CNN and author Rainbow Rowell.

“My path to this Emmy Award can be traced back to UNL and the J-school. That’s where you begin to learn how to work in this business,” Justice said. “I learned so much from the great CoJMC profs, and my peers as well. I’m grateful for everyone there who helped me get to where I am today.”  

Justice and team with Emmy award
Justice (far left) and his team at the Emmy awards.