A fascinating piece by Scott Jensen in the latest NPPA News Photographer magazine traces the path each of the 2011 stations of the year followed to get where they are today. What struck me was what Seattle’s KING-TV, KCCI in Des Moines, and WAVY in Portsmouth, Va., have in common. They share a similar newsroom culture that encourages good work and celebrates victories, but that’s not all. They’re also connected to each other, one way or another.
KING’s Mark Mrozinski just arrived from WAVY, where he was runner-up for photographer of the year. Jeff Christian, another relative newcomer to Seattle, was hired from KCCI. KING’s news director, Mark Ginther, used to run KCCI’s competition, WHO-TV, which won two Station of the Year titles under his leadership.
Something else worth noting: All three of the stations had a clear goal–to become known for great visual storytelling, Jensen writes. And all are repeat winners of the station of the year award.
At WAVY, chief photographer Jeff Myers persuaded the news director to pay for NPPA memberships for the entire photojournalism staff. Then he enlisted the staff in judging regional contests. “We started seeing other people’s work and started throwing ideas around,” Myers says. Three years ago, the station submitted its first SOY entry. A year later, they won it. And now they’ve done it two years in a row.
KCCI won its third title in five years. Here’s the station’s 2011 entry:
KING, on the other hand, hadn’t won in years. In almost 30 years, to be exact. But after Ginther took over a little more than three years ago, Jensen writes, photojournalism became valued again. A pendulum that had swung away from storytelling when high story count was king at KING has now swung all the way back.
General manager Pat Costello, himself a former photojournalist, says KING’s recent success has a lot to do with how the consumption of news has changed.
How do you cover news when you know that everybody at 5:00 has seen pretty much what you’re going to tell them? How do we give them something of value? What you do is you make them feel it.
In the end, that may be the most encouraging secret of all.