By Michael P. King, President
For about 10 years, I’ve served on the Board of Directors with a bunch of terrific people whose careers were deeply rooted in video storytelling. Their insights and experiences — in the industry and NPPA — were often quite different from mine. They had perspectives I needed to hear. They always helped me better understand areas where NPPA was underperforming or not meeting the needs of our members (and just as important, those who should be members but aren’t). In that vein, now I need to hear from you.
This magazine you hold is a beautifully crafted, insightful, unique publication. It’s a crown jewel of this association and a great asset to the journalism industry. I think it’s in its best years. The amount of content that relates specifically to video storytelling varies from issue to issue. But on the whole, I think we rightfully dedicate more of the “news hole” than we have in the past to telling video-centric stories. We’re also making a conscious effort to tell more stories that should resonate with all of us, regardless of our particular disciplines. It’s incredibly important to examine and reflect on the common threads that connect and unite us as visual journalists.
Still, there are limitations to “doing more” and “doing better.” It’s the medium. It’s inherently difficult to adequately represent what you do as video storytellers with ink on a page. For as long as I can remember, we’ve heard your pleas for better representation in News Photographer, and we’ve generally responded by trying to put more into the print product. It’s an entirely natural response for people who have put out a print product for decades! But, admittedly, it might not be the response that solves the underlying issue.
It’s high time to think radically differently about how NPPA could better reach video storytellers. Perhaps an additional production would be better than just a printed publication. We should reach people in the medium they work in, right?
I implore you: Think big. We’ve got an entirely blank slate. What would a serial, members-only NPPA video production look like? What news or stories would you want to see included in each episode? We don’t currently have the expertise or ability to do this “in house” and would need to tap into the talents of our membership. Send me your ideas. Heck, send me a proposal if you want to do this. Let’s get something great off the ground.
It’s important to me that NPPA shows through its actions that it’s for everybody. That starts with the methods we use to communicate all the great storytelling work our members do, and all the great things NPPA does for our members.
There’s lots more work to do in the years ahead, but I sincerely think you should feel as though NPPA is making steps in the right direction. Video members arguably have the most equitable representation than ever before on the Board of Directors. We’ve raised the profile of our contests, including Best of Photojournalism. We’re intent on growing our training and educational programs (like the Advanced Storytelling Workshop, now directed by Anne Herbst). And our legal advocacy team — already known for free press access work and drone policy — is firing on all cylinders right now. Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Wagner Calzada have been working hard to shield our members from the effects of “gig work" laws like California AB5, and have helped score big wins on copyright, which is such an important issue for every freelancer working in video or stills.
I don’t think there’s been a better or more important time to be an NPPA member. I encourage you to engage with NPPA, flood the suggestion box, or join me in volunteering, to help make it a better association for yourself and your colleagues. ■