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Nancy Cox Kenny, anchor and reporter for WLEX-TV 18 in Lexington, has won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for a segment titled "In the Eye of the Beholder," about Campbellsville High School senior Sienna Montgomery as she competed in the Taylor County Distinguished Young Woman competition.
Kenny, a Campbellsville native, completed the story last fall with the help of photojournalist Brian Gilbert.
Kenny said winning the award is a prestigious honor and her reaction was pure disbelief when she learned the story had won.
"I knew the story was great, not because of me, but because Sienna is so strong and courageous," Kenny said.
Winning the award is a humbling experience, she said, that requires remarkable effort simply because Montgomery is a remarkable inspiration to others.
When they started the project, Kenny said the main priority was to live up to the trust Montgomery and her mother, Robyn Netherland, had put in them to tell their story. For Kenny, winning the award confirms that she and Gilbert did that.
The WLEX-TV team has won an Edward R. Murrow Award in the past, but this is the first individual award for Kenny.
Kenny said a lot of work goes into producing the final segment audiences watch on TV. Kenny and Gilbert spent two workdays in Campbellsville shooting the story and conducting interviews with Montgomery and her family. Kenny said she spent about 10 hours writing the story, which is more time than she has spent on any other news piece she has worked on.
It took Gilbert another 12 hours to edit the video and sound to complete the story.
"I'm only guessing, but we probably spent at least 40 hours on what turned into a three-minute news segment," Kenny said.
Kenny said they devoted a lot of time to the news segment because Montgomery's story is special on many levels. It was a challenge, she said, to find the right words, to ask the right questions and choose the right direction for the story.
"Most 17 year old girls deal with self esteem and confidence issues," Kenny said. "Yet despite her genetic condition, Sienna doesn't seem to be afraid of anything or anyone."
Kenny said Montgomery seems to have a better grasp of who she is than most adults she knows. Kenny said Montgomery's unique story inspires her to push through her fears and what she perceives as limitations.
While winning the award is great, Kenny said she is most satisfied that Montgomery was happy with the story, because that's all that matters.
"She proves that although a mountain might be too steep to climb, if we try hard enough, we might find a way around it," Kenny said.