May 1, 2014

Plattsburgh State students produce PSAs

PLATTSBURGH — Last fall, SUNY Plattsburgh senior TV/video production students Alex Backstrom and Ryan Stillwaggon went to jail.

They hadn’t committed a crime, rather they were there producing a public-service announcement urging minors not to use fake IDs. 

Backstrom uploaded the PSA to YouTube in February, and, with airtime funded by the Clinton County STOP-DWI program, it will run on local stations and Plattsburgh State Television.

“This project was more professional than any we’ve done before,” he said. “We had higher standards because we’re students working for the police. 

“We had to impress these guys. We had to show them that we’ve learned a lot in our TV/video production major.”


Backstrom and Stillwaggon were asked to work on the PSA by associate professor of communications Peter Ensel, who was brought into the project by Assistant University Police Chief Jerry Lottie.

Lottie said some local entrepreneurs — liquor-store owners, in particular — were concerned about fake IDs because they, as business owners, “get hammered hard for selling to minors.

“But the minors,” he said, “I don’t even think they know that what they’re doing is illegal. So I said, ‘Look, we have a communications department. We’d be happy to help get the word out.’”


By the time Backstrom posted the PSA to YouTube, a handful of individuals and organizations had contributed to its development, including University Police, STOP-DWI, Ensel, the Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network, Plattsburgh City Police Sgt. Frank Mercier and Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie. But ultimately, the project belonged to the students.

Stillwaggon pointed out that as TV/video students, building a body of work is important. He said he and Backstrom can now showcase the PSA on their personal reels.

Ensel said the PSA impressed the DA’s office — but he wasn’t surprised.

“They did a really wonderful job with it,” he said. “It’s a testament to the quality of the program.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
CVPH Job Opportunities