CMA Presents CMA Close Up Awards of Merit

CMA Presents CMA Close Up Awards of Merit

NASHVILLE – For the first time ever, the Country Music Association presented its coveted CMA Close Up Award of Merit to winners in two divisions, Journalism and Photography.

The 2013 recipients are student journalist Kelly Dean and student photographer Caitlin Harris, both selected for demonstrating the most creativity, dedication, and promise in covering the CMA Music Festival on assignment from CMA.

Dean and Harris received their commemorative medallions during backstage press conference coverage of “The 47th Annual CMA Awards” Wednesday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Candidates for the two Awards were chosen based on recommendations from department heads in journalism, photography, and equivalent programs at several universities and colleges. The final team of five reporters, under direction of CMA Close Up Editor Bob Doerschuk, and four photographers, supervised by CMA Director of Creative Services Amanda Eckard and CMA Manager of Creative Services Christian Bottorff, covered all aspects of the 2013 CMA Music Festival. Their articles and photos were posted daily during the Festival and have been archived at

Dean, 22, was born near Chicago, Ill., and came to Nashville to major in Communication: Journalism/New Media at Lipscomb University. Now in her senior year, she was part of the team that won the Southeast Journalism Conference’s Best of the South Awards in 2011, which included third place in “Best Video News” and first place as “Best College TV Station.”

Examples of Dean’s on-camera work can be seen at

“I didn’t expect to win the CMA Close Up Award of Merit at all,” Dean said. “I had to read my name four times on the email message for it to register! But this will definitely be a big help on my résumé because I have such a passion for Country Music and I’d love to do something that incorporates music and entertainment with TV after I graduate.”

“Kelly brought discipline and initiative to her work during all four days of CMA Music Fest,” said Doerschuk. “Her writing experience as well has her on-air broadcasting and broadcast production served her well in finding the essence of each assignment and connecting with the people for ‘fan-on-the-street’ interviews. Plus, she pitched some great ideas. Clearly, her future in this industry is strong, and her Award of Merit is very well deserved.”

Harris, 21 and a Nashville native, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts: Digital Photography and Video, at Nashville’s Nossi College of Art.

“Covering CMA Music Fest 2013 is the absolute best experience I have ever been a part of as a young photographer,” Harris said. “It gave me real experience in the area of photography I enjoy the most. I had never gone to CMA Fest before this year, but I’d always wanted to go. Now I don’t think there could be any better way to remember it than by receiving this honor from CMA.”

Harris’ online portfolio can be viewed at

“Five days and nights of traversing miles and miles of Downtown Nashville during CMA Music Festival never dampened Caitlin’s positive spirit,” said Eckard. “She didn’t complain about any assignment, no matter how big or small. In fact, even when fatigue had washed over all of us, Caitlin asked for more, always offering to pitch in where needed. She went above and beyond every single day and turned in exceptional photos. That’s why she is most deserving of the CMA Close Up Award of Merit in Photography.”