- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

At 13, Ian Scott Wilson is already an award-winning filmmaker. The Falls Church resident, an eighth-grader at Luther Jackson Middle School, was a first-prize winner in a student documentary contest sponsored by C-SPAN. “StudentCam” asked middle- and high-school students to create and produce a video running less than 10 minutes about an issue important to them.

Ian said it was concern for his older brother that motivated him to make his film, “When the Boys Come Home: Controversy at Walter Reed.”

“My brother is in the Army and if anything did happen to him, I wouldn’t want him to be treated poorly,” Ian said of his older brother, Gordon, who is serving in Iraq after serving in Afghanistan.

Ian said it took about a month to make his video, which explores the controversy over medical care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In researching the project, he contacted the office of Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, which provided him with transcripts of hearings on the issue.

Ian’s film included clips from hearings, including testimony from soldiers and their families, with voiceover segments as well as stand-up shots. He also spoke with about 100 people on the street to get their opinions.

Entries were judged by a panel of representatives from the public affairs network and evaluated according to thoughtful examination of the contest theme, quality of expression, objectivity and inclusion of clips from C-SPAN.

Ian’s documentary won him $1,000 as well as a national audience — the public affairs network is airing his video at 6:50 a.m. on June 14, and will have him on for a phone interview at 8:30 a.m. during its “Washington Journal” morning program.

Ian said he’s currently working on two more documentaries: one about the upcoming presidential election and one about his favorite band.

“If anybody can get me in touch with Pink Floyd, that would be great,” he said.

All 45 winning videos can be viewed online at www.studentcam.org.

WMAL fill-in apologizes

A substitute host on WMAL-AM (630) apologized after stepping into sensitive territory two weeks ago with his criticism of male students at Virginia Tech for not confronting the rampaging gunman who killed 32 persons.

Mark Williams, a talk-radio host based in Sacramento, was filling in for WMAL host Chris Plante on May 6 when, in the words of a listener, “He basically said that all the male students who died at Virginia Tech had no manhood.”

Mr. Williams, according to the listener, “kept after it,” even going so far as to call the students “fairies,” and fielded several angry calls on the air. The next night, he apologized twice.

“I try not to watch over every single word our people say,” said Paul Duckworth, WMAL’s program director. But, “particularly in this market, where this is a very sensitive local story, the inclusion of the Virginia Tech case was ill-advised.”

Mr. Duckworth said Mr. Williams, who has subbed before on the station, made the comments in the context of a larger argument about personal responsibility. After calls and e-mails poured in to the station, the two had a chat and Mr. Williams agreed that he “went in the wrong direction.”

“We are always responsible for what we say, no matter what it is,” Mr. Duckworth said. “I think that Mark and I think that the station handled it well and we’re moving on.”

Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. E-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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