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PODCAST EPISODE #53: Chad Nelson, photojournalist, KARE-TV

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Last June I flew to Cleveland to cover the championship parade for the NBA’s Cavaliers. I stood in a swarm of a million Clevelanders and witnessed one of the most stellar scenes in sports.

I also witnessed one of the most stellar sights in photojournalism: the editing of Chad Nelson.

The photographer from KARE-TV in the Twin Cities had been, like myself, called to help our sister station in Cleveland. We worked on separate stories, and after I completed mine, I stopped by Chad’s desk to say hello.

Within minutes, I was receiving a master class in color and composition.

I had always admired the care with which Nelson treats his video, but in Cleveland I gained a deeper appreciation. Nelson works at a station that prides itself on its storytelling culture, and he carries that culture in every story he shoots.

Last month, it paid off. Nelson received three pieces of extraordinary news:

  • He was named the NPPA’s Central Top Region’s Photographer of the Year.
  • He was named a finalist for the NPPA’s Ernie Crisp Photographer of the Year award.
  • He was also named a finalist for the NPPA’s Editor of the Year award.

Now he is my guest on Episode #53 of the Telling the Story podcast.

We talked about quite a bit but focused on two of Chad’s great stories from last year:

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5 lessons from the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism 2016 video winners

Every year I watch the video winners of the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism awards.

Every year I go back to the same thought:

The building blocks of storytelling are absolutely important to a great piece of journalism, but they require the foundation of a story worth telling.

If we cannot get in the door with meaningful material, we cannot expect viewers to appreciate the various techniques on which we pride ourselves. Last year I profiled several BOP winners on this site and drew lessons from them. In my introduction, I wrote: “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.”

Ditto for 2016. In general, the stories that won BOP awards — and stood out in public as well — were triumphs of content over technique.

Here are five first-place winners and the lessons I took from them:

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PODCAST EPISODE #52: Oliver Janney, senior field production supervisor, CNN

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The morning after he sat down for this podcast, Oliver Janney hopped on a plane from Washington, DC to Norman, Oklahoma.

Why?

He could not pass up the chance to be a part of the faculty at the famed NPPA News Video Workshop.

Janney has a pretty busy day job; he is the senior field production supervisor at the DC bureau for CNN. He monitors dozens of photojournalists who fly all over the world to cover the biggest stories.

But he also used to be one of those photojournalists in the field, and before he reached the national heights of CNN, he got a kick-start by attending the workshop in Norman.

Janney is my guest on Episode #52 of the Telling The Story podcast.

“That one week truly changed the trajectory of my career,” Janney told me. “I thought I knew what I was doing before that, and I came out of that week questioning everything, excited, and just fired up.”

I met Janney two weeks ago when we both spoke at a different NPPA workshop: the Northern Short Course in Fairfax, Va. I truly enjoyed hearing his perspective as a photojournalist who has experienced both local and national newsrooms. I wanted to bring his insights to the recorded audience of this podcast, and Janney happily obliged.

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MMJ Survey leftovers: burnout, a shout-out, & a look (way) back

The MMJ Survey has been catching quite a bit of attention.

In the past few weeks, I have released the results of — and written several pieces about — the MMJ Survey, in which nearly 100 solo video journalists in local TV news said how they felt about the job and industry. I conducted the survey in part because I had never seen anything like it before; I know how unique the MMJ life can be, and I wanted those in the role to feel enabled to make their voices heard.

Thankfully, I have been able to amplify those voices far beyond this blog.

In the past few weeks, I have written a column for one web site and been interviewed for a column on another. I want to share them here, and I will return with the regular rotation of columns and podcasts starting next week.

An MMJ Life | Battling burnout (TV News Storytellers): I was able to reach such a large swath of solo video journalists for my survey by posting on a pair of Facebook groups. One was MMJane, a group exclusively for female MMJs; I interviewed their administrators, Sarah-Blake Morgan and Katie Eastman, on my most recent podcast episode.

The other group is TV News Storytellers, whose founder Matt Mrozinski joined me last year on the podcast.

Matt and I spoke about me writing a column about the survey, and I chose to isolate the very real issue of MMJ burnout. I went through it as a young journalist, and I write in this piece about how I got through it.

MMJs love their jobs, often don’t feel safe (NPPA.org): This article, written by Tom Burton with the NPPA and News Photographer Magazine, tackles another glaring result from the MMJ Survey.

It talks about safety.

Burton interviewed me about the survey and seemed particularly interested in the concerns of many MMJs about being placed in potentially dangerous situations. That said, we covered a variety of topics, and Burton hits most of them in this write-up.

The cameraman who works alone: I was not interviewed for this piece, and I have no idea from where it came.

I just know this: it’s from 1964, and it’s outstanding.

Amanda Emily, the historian extraordinaire for TV News Storytellers, unearthed this chapter from Fred Mooke, then the managing editor at WTVJ-TV in Miami. Mooke discusses the rise of the one-man band … more than five decades ago.

I don’t want to spoil any of it. But solo video journalists out there need to give it a read. It’s amusing, to say the least.

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The Solo Video Journalist is available for purchase. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the publisher’s web site.

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com. You can also follow Matt on Facebook and Twitter.

PODCAST EPISODE #48: Best of 2016 edition

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This is a special podcast.

Normally I have one special guest from the news industry, offering insights about his or her career and advice for young journalists and storytellers.

This time, I have four.

Episode #48 is a compilation of some of my favorite clips from the past year’s episodes of the Telling the Story podcast. I chose snippets that specifically focused on advice for those just getting into the business — all from some of the best in the business at their respective positions.

You’ll hear from Jed Gamber and Catherine Steward, two photojournalists who in 2016 were named the NPPA’s Regional Photographers of the Year for the East and Central regions, respectively. (Listen to the full episode.)

You’ll hear from Boyd Huppert, the 100-Emmy-winning, world-renowned feature reporter for KARE-TV in the Twin Cities. (Listen to the full episode.)

And you’ll hear from Joe Little, who provided great insight for both the podcast and my book, The Solo Video Journalist, which is a how-to guide for young MMJs like Little and myself. (Listen to the full episode.)

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PODCAST EPISODE #45: Matt Mrozinski, founder, Storytellers

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Many of us in the TV news business spend the years of our 20s trying to “make it”.

We expend all of our energy building our craft, learning from others, staying afloat, and climbing the ladder to a point of relative stability in a ruthlessly unstable industry.

Then we get to our 30s, and we make a conscious choice to begin to give back.

I know I went through that process. It’s why I started this blog four years ago. It’s why I almost always accept requests to speak at workshops and conferences. It’s why I helped organize and direct a workshop back in June.

(It’s also why I have been working on an exciting project for which I’ll be making a special announcement next week.)

And it’s why I began the Telling the Story podcast, in which I always devote a segment with my guest about advice for younger journalists.

My guest on this episode has fulfilled the same calling in a magnificent way.

He is the director of photojournalism at KING-TV in Seattle, but he is perhaps even more highly regarded as the founder of Storytellers, a web site and Facebook group for critiques and conversation that just cleared 10,000 members — almost all of whom are current journalists, news managers, and media professionals.

He is Matt Mrozinski, and he is my guest for Episode #45.

I have been a member of the Storytellers group for several years, but I had never heard how it began until interviewing Mrozinski for this podcast. I found his story fascinating, mainly because he did not start the group with the intent of reaching thousands of people. On the contrary, he stumbled upon its success — but then seized the opportunity to ensure its growth in a meaningful way.

I really enjoyed this interview and believe you will too. Mrozinski gives great insight into how the Storytellers community has benefited its members; he even provides some self-proclaimed “BREAKING NEWS” about future plans.

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PODCAST EPISODE #44: Jason Lamb, reporter, WTVF-TV

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If you want to get to know my guest on this podcast, you need to watch this video:

It features a young reporter, standing among legends as finalists for the NPPA’s 2016 Reporter of the Year award, awaiting the decision … and then finding out he won.

The reaction is priceless.

The reporter is Jason Lamb.

After about 20 seconds of straightforward shock, the 30-year-old from WTVF-TV in Nashville gives a heartfelt acceptance speech. He talks about the lessons he learned from the other journalists on that stage. He confesses he didn’t really prepare anything to say. And just when he claims to be done, he quickly calls everyone back so he can think the photographer, the ultra-talented (and former podcast guest) Catherine Steward, who shot every story on his award-winning entry.

Lamb is my guest on Episode #44 of the Telling The story podcast.

We certainly discuss his advice for young TV journalists on developing as a storyteller, but mostly we talk about his most recently high-profile assignment: covering Hurricane Matthew for dozens of local news affiliates as it came up the Florida coast. Lamb, Steward, and his team worked 17-hour days and executed loads of live shots; they came back exhausted but satisfied with their work.

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Our 3 most popular posts of 2016 (so far)

Allow me to present two important reasons for this post:

  1. We have reached the halfway point of 2016.
  2. I am on vacation this week.

I can think of no better time, then, to run the blog world’s version of a clip show: the three most popular posts from 2016 that have appeared on the Telling The Story blog. Here are the links, with excerpts from each piece:

PODCAST EPISODE #37: Jed Gamber, WBFF-TV & Catherine Steward, WTVF-TV

Awards season is underway in local TV news.

Over the next few months, some of the most prestigious associations in journalism will present lists of winners and honor some of the best reporters and photojournalists in the field.

Photojournalists Jed Gamber and Catherine Steward are off to a great start.

This past week, Gamber and Steward each received one of the highest honors in the craft: being named NPPA Regional Photographer of the Year. Gamber captured the crown for the East region for his work at WBFF-TV in Baltimore, while Steward topped the Central region after a stellar year with WTVF-TV in Nashville. The award they won prizes consistency and versatility and honors an entire year’s worth of powerful storytelling.

Watch their work, and you will quickly see why: these two photojournalists care about awards far less than they care about their audience.

Gamber and Steward are my guests of this episode of the Telling the Story podcast.

They discuss questions of technique, teamwork, and communication, but they speak with such obvious and heartfelt passion. They so clearly believe in the power of storytelling to reach an audience, and they bring that purpose into their work. Any storyteller can learn from what these two have to say.

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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 #38: Chris Vanderveen, reporter, KUSA-TV

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Sometimes we forget the cold hard potential of what we can accomplish in journalism.

Chris Vanderveen is a good reminder.

(As evidenced from his photo above with the Most Interesting Man in the World, he also knows how to keep good company.)

After more than a decade as an award-winning general assignment reporter for KUSA-TV in Denver, Vanderveen applied for a job within his station to join the investigative team. He got it, and he has been throwing journalistic haymakers ever since.

Specifically, Vanderveen has produced stories and led movements that have changed laws.

He brings a storyteller’s sensibility to the often tough-to-digest world of investigative journalism. I-Team stories tend to come across as an overload of numbers and data, except when in the hands of a reporter who can give viewers a reason to care.

Vanderveen is my guest on this episode of the Telling the Story podcast.

He is also 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 of WLOS-TV in Asheville. We welcome anyone looking to improve as a storyteller and receive inspiration from some of the best in the country. Vanderveen has the hardware to back up his credentials, including recently being named a finalist for NPPA Reporter of the Year.

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 look into the power of investigative journalism, with great tips on how to do it right.

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