While taking a still photojournalism class taught by a photographer and photo editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, one of the instructors, Jeffrey Thompson, said he should look into attending an NPPA workshop.
“OK, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’ll Google it!” came Hansen’s reply.
While looking up information about the NPPA News Video Workshop in Norman, Oklahoma, Hansen realized his own broadcast journalism professor and longtime KARE 11 reporter Greg Vandegrift was one of the workshop faculty members.
It turns out Hansen was being influenced by NPPA’s values long before he ever knew. Hansen says Vandegrift would routinely bring in some of the organization’s best storytellers to help teach: Boyd Huppert, Joe Fryer, Brett Akagi.
“I thought these were just people he used to work with!” Hansen said.
After attending the workshop in Norman during the spring of his senior year, Hansen says, certainty hit: He knew he wanted to be a news photographer.
To this day, Hansen still chases that certainty in the edit bay, something evident in what is undoubtedly one of the most powerful pieces in his EOY entry, “Karl and Donna.”
It’s a story featuring a couple married for 55 years, as they navigate both Donna’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis that has confined her to a care center in Aurora, Colorado, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which had kept the two from being able to be in the same room since the start of the pandemic.
Hansen and reporter Chris Vanderveen were there as Karl and Donna got to hug for the first time in a year. (Vanderveen received NPPA's 2022 Photojournalism Award for Reporting.)
“I’m reacting to them as it’s happening,” Hansen said.
Hansen says the key is remembering his own reactions and feelings in the moment. Then he steps into the cutting room.
“Then it’s the challenge of, is that translating on camera, and does it translate in the edit bay?”
Hansen says he may try an edit two, three, four or more times. Where should he make a cut? What shot should he go to next? He says he’s not sure; he gets a sense of déjà vu.
“That feeling comes back,” Hansen says. That’s when he’s certain the story is finished.
“I think I always lean on my own experience in the field to help guide the edit: What am I feeling, what are my thoughts that I have as something’s occurring?”
Hansen says it’s a technique that younger journalists can embrace, but he says it’s a skill that won’t develop overnight.
“Don’t be afraid that it’s not going to be perfect. It’s OK to try something and try it again,” Hansen said.
“That’s part of the beauty of editing,” Hansen said. “You can work with something on a timeline, and it may not work, but because of those few efforts, you come up with a new idea.”
Hansen says that, as much as Editor of the Year is an individual award, he has an entire newsroom behind him.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for both the support of the NPPA and the support of 9NEWS, this has certainly been a place that I’ve grown a ton over the 10 years I’ve been here, and that hasn’t come without a lot of people’s effort and support.”
Of that, Hansen says, he couldn’t be more certain.
Jason Lamb is a reporter at WTVF NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was selected as the 2016 recipient of the Best of Photojournalism contest’s NPPA Photojournalism Award for Reporting. You can find him on Twitter at @JasonLambNC5.