By Donald R. Winslow
EAST LANSING, MI (April 2, 2014) – Jonathan Malat of KARE-TV in Minneapolis has been picked as this year's Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year during the final round of Television Photojournalism judging at NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism contest.
It's the third time Malat has won the top honor, getting the title first in 1998 and then again in 2002. He now joins a small, exclusive group of photojournalists who have won the Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year prize three times: Darren Durlach won in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and John Goheen won in 1989, 1990, and 1991.
John Kirtley of WLOS-TV in Asheville, NC, is this year's runner-up.
And Boyd Huppert of KARE-TV is once again the winner of the NPPA Photojournalism Award for Reporting. Of the eight years NPPA has hosted this award, Huppert has won it six times. Today's honor is his sixth win in a row.
There were 43 entries in the Video Photographer of the Year category and judges this week had narrowed it down to six finalists. The finalists were Doug Burgess of KING-TV, Chris Hansen of KUSA-TV, Eric Sander of KING-TV, Corky Scholl of KUSA-TV, along with Malat and Kirtley.
"It's kind of hard to believe," Malat told News Photographer magazine today. "I really didn't think this was one of my better POY tapes. I'm grateful, but I feel like in other years I've had better tapes. I joked with Boyd [Huppert] this morning that I want to be the Kenny Rogers of POY. Rogers gets a Grammy Award every decade. I'm trying to get one win every decade until I'm out."
Asked which story on his winning tape was a favorite this year, Malat was hard pressed to single out any individual piece.
"I'm very blessed with what I do because a couple of days a week Boyd and I get to do feature stories. I have so many features stories from last year that I really love, it was hard to figure out which ones to put on my tape. There's one story about an African dad who had been separated from his family for 25 years, and he met them at the airport for the first time as adults, they're all grown up now. It was very emotional."
Another story Malat singled out from last year was about a family who lost their teen son to drug addiction. The boy had talked about one day becoming an architect, and had drawn up some loose plans for a house. To honor their son, the family worked every weekend in their grief for a year to build the house on some land in the countryside."
"To cover these kinds of stories is a real honor," Malat said. "You realize how small the world is and how fortunate we are to live where we live, and to be able to do what we do."
In a reflective moment the photojournalist said, "I owe it all to NPPA because without the organization, I never would have been introduced to the quality of work that I've been exposed to over the years, and it's really become the cornerstone of what I try to do every day."
Malat has been a photojournalist for the last 18 years at KARE-TV, and in 2013 he was named as their director of photography. Before coming to Minnesota he was a photojournalist at WJZ-TV and WBFF-TV in Baltimore. His photography has been featured in six national Edward R. Murrow Awards, more than 50 Emmys, and in more than 90 NPPA awards.
In addition to his daily news assignments, Malat works with Huppert on the standing feature package "Boyd Huppert's Land of 10,000 Stories. The duo frequently appear together teaching at workshops and seminars, and they are longtime faculty members at NPPA's Advanced Storytelling Workshop (which starts next week in San Marcos, TX).
Malat and his wife Molly have a daughter, Maddie, and he says they can frequently be found shooting sunrise photographs.
Kirtley started shooting news immediately after college at East carolina University in his first job at WBTW-TV in Myrtle Beach, SC. He moved to Asheville as an editor and photographer and then moved to a larger market. But he says he missed the storytelling opportunities he'd enjoyed at WLOS-TV, so he moved back to North Carolina in 2010. In 2012 he was offered a job at WIA-TV in Atlanta and moved there, but once again North Carolina called out to him and once again he returned to WLOS-TV.
"The mountains of North Carolina are filled with amazing stories," Kirtley said, "And WLOS-TV is the outlet for them to the rest of the world."
The Video Photography judges this year were Kathy Kieliszewski of the Detroit Free Press, where she is the director of photography and video; Deborah Potter, the executive director of NewsLab; and Mark Tauscheck, a reporter and anchor for KCCI-TV in Des Moines.
Read additional winning results from individual Video Photography and Video Editing categories online here.