Documentary Honoring Mason the Man Vies for National Award

By Sudha Kamath

Mason has put Mason on the map.

For the first time, a George Mason University Student Media documentary has been nominated as a finalist for a prestigious national College Broadcasters Inc. award.

Jake McLernon, on right, and Robert Horan prepare to go on air before the Student Media Live Show. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

Student Media paved the way for Mason students Jake McLernon and Robert Horan to put Mason on the video map. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

Mason Cable Network’s documentary on George Mason IV, “Patriot of Liberty,” is up for Best Documentary/Public Affairs-Television. The winner will be announced at the College Broadcasters annual convention Oct. 23-25 in Seattle.

The documentary was directed, filmed, voiced and edited by Mason graduate student Jake McLernon, who is set to complete a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in film and video studies this December. McLernon is a former general manager of Mason Cable Network, part of the Division of University Life’s Student Media. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from Mason in 2012.

“I see this as a win most importantly for the students involved in the project,” says McLernon. “This was about shedding light on whom George Mason was and relating his accomplishments and views to Mason students. The university has been on the media map for a long time for numerous reasons. This has put Mason Cable Network and Student Media on the map for video and been a great experience for everyone involved.”

McLernon was asked by Student Media director Kathryn Mangus, who is also an instructor in the Department of Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, to work on the documentary in time to unveil it at George Mason IV’s 288th birthday celebration, Dec. 11, 2013. McLernon, of Herndon, Va., teamed up with other students, including Mason Cable Network general manager and then-sophomore Robert Horan of Springfield, Va., and Ryan Frey of Lancaster, Pa.

Mason graduate student Jake McLernon directed “Patriot of Liberty,” a Mason Cable Network documentary on George Mason IV. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

Mason graduate student Jake McLernon directed “Patriot of Liberty,” a Mason Cable Network documentary on George Mason IV. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

“I was almost speechless when I first heard the news,” says Frey, a communication major who hopes to work for a major television network such as ESPN. “How many first-semester freshmen get to say that they got to work on something that’s nationally recognized? It makes me immensely proud to be at Mason because if I hadn’t come here and gotten involved with Student Media, then I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a part of something like this.”

The video traces George Mason IV‘s business and political achievements—as the owner of Gunston Hall, a National Historic Landmark in Lorton, Va.; as a senior statesman; and as the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights,” declared Mason in the first U.S. document to call for freedom of the press, religious tolerance and the right to a fair and speedy trial. The Virginia Declaration of Rights became the basis for the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

“Patriot of Liberty” features interviews with Scott Stroh, director of Gunston Hall, and Thomas Moncure,  the university’s legal counsel and a Mason descendant. They discuss the patriot’s impact on the nation and on the university that bears his name. “He would consider this university important in terms of not so much promoting him, but the ideas that he promoted,” says Moncure in the documentary. “That would be the greatest preservation of his legacy that we could do.”