best of photojournalism

5 lessons from the NPPA’s best video stories of 2015

It’s getting harder than ever to keep our viewers’ attention.

That’s what we keep hearing, and that’s why, we are told, we must adapt.

If attention spans are shrinking and devotion to broadcast news is dwindling, local news journalists must expand how we connect with others. I, for example, have talked a lot about the potential of social media to enable our work to reach unforeseen audiences. Maybe we all need to educate ourselves on new platforms and media in addition to our product on-air.

But we cannot forget about that product.

If anything, we need to step it up.

The best stories I saw last year demanded my attention, and I watched zero of them on television. I watched all of them online, via links and recommendations from colleagues and friends. I arrived upon them organically and, when I clicked on the videos, found myself instantly engrossed.

A few weeks ago, the NPPA announced its Best of Photojournalism winners for last year, and I became engrossed again. I have, in several years past, authored blog posts about lessons learned from the competition’s champs, and I feel compelled to do so once more, thanks to some tremendous storytelling from some of the nation’s most talented journalists:

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PODCAST EPISODE #39: John Le, reporter, WLOS-TV

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Before you listen to this podcast, you need to watch a video.

This video.

This is a snippet from an interview with Will Ferrell, where host Katie Couric plays a clip of the actor’s work in college as an aspiring sportscaster. At the 42-second mark, you see Ferrell pontificating about a beauty pageant, deadpanning about the contestants while a co-anchor nods graciously and holds Ferrell’s microphone.

That co-anchor is John Le, and he is my guest on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast.

We all know what became of Ferrell, but his sidekick in that clip has developed an illustrious career of his own. Le is regarded as one of the top feature reporters in the industry and has won five regional Edward R. Murrow awards along with a rising stack of regional Emmys. He is a finalist for this year’s NPPA national Best of Photojournalism award for Reporting.

He is also a hoot. Perhaps Ferrell’s comedic instincts rubbed off on him (or maybe it was the reverse?), but Le is an effervescent presence whose personality more than stands out during this podcast.

On another note, Le is one of the many tremendous speakers at this year’s NPPA Southeast Storytelling Workshop, being held June 10th and 11th in Atlanta. I am organizing and co-hosting the conference with photojournalist (and one-time podcast guest) John Kirtley, who works with Le at WLOS-TV in Asheville. We welcome anyone looking to improve as a storyteller and receive inspiration from some of the best in the country.

Click here to learn more and register for the conference, Feel free to e-mail me with questions at the address below. In the meantime, enjoy this entertaining — and, I hope, informative — half-hour with one of the best writers around.

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