Judges Pick Winners In Best Of Photojournalism 2007 Web Video Photo Categories

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Judging started today in the first of four divisions of the National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition as television judges began picking winners in the new Web Video Photography categories at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg.

Along with this year's new categories for video published on the Web, this year's TV contest also has a new category for Solo Video Journalists.

The Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition is sponsored again this year by Canon and Avid.

The winning videos can be viewed here on the Poynter Institute's Web site.

Today judges picked winners in the Web Video Photography categories of 48 Hours-Web, News Feature-Web, Sports Feature-Web, and In-Depth Photography-Web. And the judges for the TV Editing categories normally don’t start picking winners until later in the week, but this year they started viewing entries in the Editor of the Year category tonight.

Outgoing TV editing chair Mike Harrity came to the judging to help Ram Guzman learn the ropes of the editing contest. “The contest has grown so much in the last 10 years since I took over. I wanted to come to Poynter for a few days to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Harrity said. “Ram will do a great job with making the contest grow even more.”

Student TV Contest winners were named yesterday. NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism 2007 Competition is sponsored again this year by Canon and Avid.

“This year’s contest was free to all entrants, whether they are NPPA members or not, and the judges are ready to tackle all of the entries,” Merry Murray, the BOP TV contest co-chairperson, said today. “By Friday, March 9, we will have viewed more than 900 photography and editing entries and will crown the winners of the Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year Award, the Video Editor of the Year Award, and pick the three Station of the Year winners [for small, medium, and large markets]. And I’m very excited about the entries being up by more than one-third this year.”

Television photography division judges this year are Jay Korff of WJLA-TV in Washington, DC; Erica Simpson of KGTV-TV in San Diego, CA; Regina McCombs of The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, MN; Mark Morache of KING-TV in Seattle, WA; and Joel Eagle of WJZ-TV in Baltimore, MD.

The television editing division judges are Stephanie Ottjepka of WTVT-TV in Tampa, FL, and Michael Humphries of KENS-TV in San Antonio, TX. Ram Guzman of KTVT-TV in Fort Worth, TX, is the other television contest co-chair.

Judging results, including finalists and the judges’ comments, will appear nightly on the NPPA Web site as well as on www.poynter.org. Streaming video of the winners will be published later on the Web.

The photography judges started today viewing the four new Web categories. Since it is the first year for Web entries, Murray said the judges carefully discussed each of the finalists.

In the News Feature-Web category, Ben de la Cruz of Washingtonpost.com won first place for “Being a Black Man: Off the Cuff Being Black.” Second place went to Drew Cook of Current TV for “Chris 2X,” and third place was Rick Gershon of The Dallas Morning News for “Fair Finale.” Honorable Mention was awarded to John Paraskevas of Newsday for “Cheering Them On.”

“There was a lot of discussion on first and second place in this category and the final vote could have gone either way,” McCombs said. “I really enjoyed the experimenting in storytelling style that went on – there were some interesting bits and pieces. Not all of it worked, but as an effort toward exploring what we can do on the Web, it was great to see. Several pieces were entered in the wrong category, and would have been strong contenders in 48 hours.”

“These winners displayed a visual and journalistic maturity worthy of national recognition,” Korff said. “Each story was technically vivid, candid and emotional.”

“Web stories are exciting to me because I see the opportunity for them to tell the kind of stories that TV news won’t take the time to tell,” Morache said. “A natural sound story for a TV producer is frequently considered a voice over that’s way too long. On the Web, it’s an asset. We selected ‘Being a Black Man: Off the Cuff’ because it had very strong visuals, good sound and sequences, and it make you feel something. Not just great photography, but great journalism.”

“Being a Black Man: Off the Cuff Being Black” by de la Cruz can be seen here.

In the 48 Hours-Web category, the judges decided not to award first place. Second place went to Travis Fox of washingtonpost.com for “Paths to Escape Perilous for Lebanese,” and third place went to John Paraskevas of Newsday for “Tragic Flight Path.” Honorable Mentions were awarded to Akira Hakuta of Washingtonpost.com for “Dupont’s Annual Drag Race,” and to Rick Gershon of The Dallas Morning News for “Heroin’s Wake.” Another story by Gershon was a finalist in this category, “Cactus Raid.”

“This is a new category that has so much promise,” Korff said. “We watched a number of stories that – while solid – need more development and visual sophistication. The top two stories are wonderful examples of emotional storytelling.”

“Almost all the stories in this category lacked the basic fundamentals of good storytelling,” Eagle said. “The entrants also need to work on their composition. Even though these stories are for a more narrow audience than broadcast, they still need the same elements that make any story memorable.”

Fox’s “Paths to Escape Perilous for Lebanese” can be seen here.

In the Sports Feature-Web category, the judges decided not to award first place. Second place was Brian Kaufman of NaplesNews.com for “Swamp Buggy Race,” and third place was Preston Keres of Washingtonpost.com for “Drumline.” An Honorable Mention was awarded to Keres for “The Student Section: In the Heads of Opponent.”

About the Sports Feature-Web category, judge Simpson said, “As with the 48 hours-Web category, we didn’t feel that any of the material submitted warranted a first place. The two chosen for second and third place had strong points but lacked some vital storytelling elements. For many of the entries, the potential to draw the viewer into the story was there – but almost always fell short.”

Kaufman’s “Swamp Buggy Race” can be seen here.

In the Photography In-Depth-Web category, first place was awarded to Travis Fox of Washingtonpost.com for “The Aftermath of Agent Orange.” Second place also went to Fox for “Romania’s Hopes Lies with E.U.” The judges decided not to award third place or any honorable mentions.

Some of the judges commented on the stories in the In-Depth-Web category. “The debate in this category centered around the importance of story versus the importance of the strength of the photography,” McCombs said. “There seemed to be a divide in the entries: some stories were well shot, but lacked heart; others were wonderful stories with good emotional connections, but the photography wasn’t what it needed to be. In the end, the photography won the day.”

“The two stories that placed came from the same photojournalist,” Eagle said. “The stories were well shot, and well executed, although they sometimes lacked emotion where emotion was present. The other entrants in this category needed to concentrate more on their shooting fundamentals and story telling techniques.”



About The Judges:

Joel Eagle will celebrate his 20th anniversary at WJZ-TV in Balitmore, MD, this August. In those two decades Joel has done it all: shooting, producing, writing, and editing. He’s worked on everything from documentaries, telethons, magazine and dance shows, to the current position he’s held since 1993, that of news photographer. Since joining the staff of Eyewitness News, he’s won numerous NPPA awards, been nominated for 13 Emmys (winning six), and has twice been on the staff of the NPPA workshop in Norman, OK. A 1987 graduate of the University of Miami with a BA in Communications, he enjoys travel, sports, music, and gardening in his free time.

Jay Korff is a general assignment reporter with ABC7 WJLA-TV. He came to Washington, DC, in 2003 after working for the nine years at WKRN-TV in Nashville, TN. Before that he reported for stations in Fort Wayne, IN; La Crosse, WI; and Helena, MT. Korff has received 30 Emmy Award nominations, eight Emmy Awards, and a regional Edward R. Murrow award. He's also has been honored numerous times by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists for his writing and reporting. He’s is a native of the Philadelphia area and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in telecommunications and political science. He is an avid trail runner and mountain biker. He's completed three 50-kilometer trail races and now enjoys ultra-endurance mountain bike racing.

Regina McCombs is a multimedia photographer and producer for StarTribune.com, the online division of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. She arrived there after 13 years as a television photographer and producer at KARE-TV in the Twin Cities. Winner of numerous Best of Photojournalism and Pictures of the Year International awards for multimedia storytelling, she’s a regular speaker around the country, talking about finding new ways to tell stories on the Web. McCombs says she does a little bit of a lot of things for StarTribune.com: filing news stories from the field, shooting video, stills, recording audio, creating slide shows, producing major projects, and training staff in creating multimedia for the Web. She's also taught classes in online journalism and television news at the University of Minnesota, where she finished her master's degree.

Mark Morache is a photographer and editor for Evening Magazine at KING-TV in Seattle, WA, the first daily local television show produced entirely in HD. He says that it’s a long way from his first news job in 1980 shooting 16mm news film for WMTV-TV in Madison, WI. Morache has also worked at KIRO-TV and KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Erica Simpson says she was in the 11th grade when she had to choose between "television production" and "typing" for her elective. Typing sounded boring, so she picked TV production and that one class sparked a passion for editing video that remains today. After attending Grossmont College in San Diego, CA, and a brief stint working on the television series “Renegade,” Simpson tried her hand at TV news starting as an editor at KUSI-TV. After 10 months she moved to KGTV-TV where she quickly moved up the ranks. She’s worn many hats at the ABC affiliate, but her favorite is as a photojournalist. Simpson also has a freelance business and works part time for the San Diego Padres. In her spare time she shoots documentaries, snowboards, and travels the world.

Michael Humphries has been a news photographer since June 1988. In Texas he’s worked in Victoria, Bryan-College Station, and San Antonio (at KVCT-TV, KBTX-TV, KSAT-TV, and KENS-TV, respectively). He’s been an NPPA member since 1995 and has placed 30-something times in the Region 8 Quarterly Contest. He’s also shot three Emmy-winning stories, portions of a Murrow-winning documentary, and won a few Texas Associated Press Broadcasters awards, including first place awards for Individual Photojournalism (Division I, 1998) and Deadline Editing (Division I, 2003). Humphries has served as a mentor to more than a dozen photographers, helping them to grow as photojournalists and, in several cases, to move on to bigger markets. Humphries has been married for sixteen years and has two daughters.

Stephanie Ottjepka is the chief editor at WTVT-TGV, the Fox O & O in Tampa, FL. She’s been working in broadcasting for 15 years, starting at an independent station in Sarasota and working her way to chief editor at WTVT-TV 10 years ago. She was 2005 runner-up Editor of the Year for her work in 2004.

Ram Guzman is in his first year as the Best of Photojournalism editing contest chair. He began his career in 1999 at KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, TX, shortly after graduating from Texas A & M in Kingsville. He’s currently the chief editor at KTVT-TV in Dallas. Guzman has won several NPPA BOP editing awards, 2 Emmys, 4 Press Club of Dallas “Katies,” and several Texas AP Broadcaster awards. In 2003 he served as a BOP TV editing contest judge.

Merry Murray is in her third year as the Best of Photojournalism Television contest chair. She has been an NPPA volunteer for more than 15 years, including serving as a Quarterly Contest Chair in three regions. She is also the National Judging Coordinator for the Quarterly Contest. Murray an award-winning photojournalist for KSNW-TV in Wichita, KS, and has worked for stations in Lexington, KY; Grand Rapids, MI; and Nashville, TN. She’s married and has two “sons” (her West Highland Terrier, Buster, and a Black Lab, Dakota).