Matt McCabe will take a notebook full of suggestions back to his newsroom. The University of Missouri junior is also a reporter at KOMU, the university-owned NBC affiliate. McCabe was the workshop’s youngest participant this year. He also embraced the sea theme and picked a penguin as his sea spirit animal.
“My friends say I waddle a lot,” he said with a chuckle. “But I’ve learned a lot, especially around writing, that’s one area where I feel like a fish out of water.”
McCabe attended the virtual news video workshop during the pandemic, and, although he took in a plethora of information, he said nothing compared to learning in person.
“Journalism is an in-person discipline especially for visual journalism,” he said. “There was nothing to not like about the virtual sessions when I went to the News Video Workshop, but we’re learning about cameras, audio and editing and the idiosyncratic behaviors of people during interviews. Those are the types of things you can only really pick up in person, not to mention the networking opportunities. Connecting with people is a bit hard in the environment of a Zoom room, and it’s been nice, too, to not have any distractions. With Zoom, you have so many things competing for your attention, it’s been nice to come here for a week with the sole focus of just becoming a better journalist.”
As with any milestone education, the workshop ended with a graduation ceremony. With sea-themed diplomas in hand, participants were able to shake the hands of faculty members who challenged them all week. Some of those faculty members were reminded how important moments like this are.
“It was so special to have an in-person workshop. While I’m grateful for the virtual options and some successful online workshops over the last two years, this was the energy I needed,” faculty member Liou said. “It was intense, hands-on learning. And most importantly, the bond we all created by the end of the conference can’t be matched. I’m glad we were able to put on this workshop as safely as we could. It is so helpful to be in a room full of people who want to learn and get better. I always learn so much at these conferences. And if I’m being honest, I’ve gone through funks during the pandemic. This is just what I needed to reenergize.”
That was the goal for this year’s workshop: refresh and rejuvenate. There were many moments throughout this pandemic when newsrooms felt like they were drowning, but with new tools in hand, these participants can go back to telling stories with their heads above water.
Jaleesa Irizarry is a multimedia journalist at KUSA in Denver. She can be reached on Twitter at @JaleesaReports or via email at [email protected].
Boyd Huppert tells his own story about a recent diagnosis on his KARE11 segment “Land of 10,000 Stories.” Video by Chad Nelson.