February 20, 2008

TIME OUT: J-lessons from NIU tragedy

I heard from Danielle Guerra, my Associated Press Diverse Voices/Diverse Visions colleague, who is now at The Northwest Herald. Danielle served as a photographer at the AP seminar/mini-internship in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2006.

After the program, she sent the group an e-mail saying she was considering moving into video. She seemed conflicted about it. I think Danielle struggled with the decision because even in the age of convergence, video doesn't get the respect it deserves. Also, there's the fear that change means leaving what you love behind. In her case, it's her passion for telling stories through images.

Clearly, Danielle still has a passion for photography as seen on her Sports Shooter page. Yet, one can also feel her passion for video.

So the lesson is that if you love telling people's stories, it doesn't matter what form it takes -- the passion will come through.
Hey guys!

Thanks for checking out my videos! NIU was very difficult to cover. I was on the scene about 45 minutes after the shooting and there such a mixture of feelings.

Nobody knew if the gunman was caught or dead, cell phones didn't work, and students either wandering around in a trance or locked up in residence halls.

The day after the shooting, the national media arrived in Dekalb. It was quite a mess just trying to talk to people one-on-one without 15 cameras behind me being shoved in their face while they are mourning.

I cover Dekalb quite a bit and our sister paper is the Dekalb Daily Chronicle so I felt I needed a different level of respect while I was gathering my news because unlike the national media, I would have to come back and cover the college past this tragedy. I remember how outraged Virginia Tech was with the media.

So I knew that one of the victims worked for the school paper and I had some student journalists sitting next to me at a press conference so I asked if I could tag along. There's only so many mourning videos, I as a person, can do. And the staff actually said that working through this and writing stories and taking pictures helped the cope. I thought they did a tremendous job going toe-to-toe with the national media and delivering the news students on and off campus needed to hear.

Other than NIU, things are great here. We were featured on Editor and Publisher for our NIU coverage. I have a project about a local brain cancer cluster up right now and my paper just nominated it for a Pulitzer in local reporting. It's exciting.

I know when I was at the workshop I was unsure of my decision to jump into video, but I'm glad a paper took a chance on me and I'm glad I made that decision.

Hope all of you are well.

NIU really put people into perspective for me, so tell people close to you that you love them.

God bless,