KUSA-TV, WAVY-TV, And KCCI-TV Win NPPA's Station Of The Year Titles

By Donald R. Winslow

EAST LANSING, MI (April 2, 2014) – NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism contest Video Photojournalism judges have picked KUSA-TV in Denver as the Large Market Station of the Year, and KING-TV in Seattle is the runner-up. KUSA-TV last won the top SOY honor in 2009, but it's the twelfth time they've earned NPPA's top title.

WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, VA, is the Medium Market Station of the Year, and KTUL-TV in Tulsa, OK, is the runner-up. WAVY-TV has now won the Medium Market SOY title for five years in a row, beginning with 2010's competition.

And KCCI-TV in Des Moines is the Small Market Station of the Year. The runner-up is a Des Moines cross-town competitor, WHO-TV. It's the sixth time that KCCI-TV has won the Small Market SOY, and it's their fourth year in a row. And this year's contest results mirror last year, when WHO-TV was again the runner-up to KCCI-TV.

Joshua Maranhas of KDVR/KWGN-TV Fox 31 in Denver has been picked as the NPPA Video Editor of the Year. He is the station's chief editor who leads a staff of 15 diverse and award-winning video editors, and two times he's been the runner-up for this honor. This year the Best Of Photojournalism judges did not pick a runner-up in this category.

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.

In the Large Market SOY category, the finalists were KARE-TV of Minneapolis, WBFF-TV of Baltimore, WITI-TV of Milwaukee, WTVF-TV of Nashville, and KUSA-TV and KING-TV.

KUSA-TV director of photography Eric Kehe today said their SOY tape this year had a "newsy edge to it" that may have been missing, or at least it was more sublime, in recent years. 

"Our year was made up of a lot of big news stories," Kehe said. "It was a pretty crazy year. We had a lot of stories that required extended coverage. There were forrest fires and flooding, and stories that overlapped each other."

But still, just having a lot of breaking news in your region doesn't guarantee that you'll be the Station of the Year. There has to be more to it than just big stories. 

"That's true," Kehe said. "We're also fortunate to have a lot of aggressive, driven people right now who want to do good work. They love getting after it, they love telling stories. We've had quite a turnover since the last time we won SOY, maybe half of our reporting staff and photography staff is new. And the people we brought in here really, really into the craft of storytelling. They're motivated, and they're hungry, and they want to do good work."

In the Medium Market SOY category, the finalists were WHTM-TV of Harrisburg, PA, WAVY-TV and KTUL-TV.

"This year we had a lot of storms roll through here, and we added one hour to our daily newscast," WAVY-TV's Jeff Myers told News Photographer today. He is the station's chief photographer and news operations manager.

"We're so proud to be able to keep the quality going along with the extra workload. It boils down to we try to do the fundamentals and we do them well all the time," Myers said. "When you do that, you can add on creativity and hard work. It's not easy trying to do daily news and series pieces and chase storms but it's what we do as news photographers, and it's nice to try to be consistent across the board, to hold up the NPPA standards of storytelling. We really work hard here on the NPPA Quarterly Clip Contest, and we judge a lot of contests so we see a lot of work. But we also work hard at being students of our own profession."

In the Small Market SOY category, the finalists were News12 CT of Norwalk, CT, KTUU-TV of Anchorage, AK, and KCCI-TV and WHO-TV.

KCCI-TV director of photography Cortney Kintzer was making a presentation at a high school career day this morning when he got the phone call from NPPA informing him of the win. 

"I think our secret is the fact that we have this atmosphere of wanting everyone to succeed," Kintzer said. "And mentoring. We all mentor and encourage each other. As photography director, I'm kind of like the head cheerleader." 

The 13 staff photographers have had some turnover, so it's not the exact same group that's won the title in the last few years. 

"We've had some significant changes in the last two or three years, some heavy hitters have moved on," Kintzer said, "but we've been lucky enough to have new blood come in and they've kept the staff energized and kept the spirit going."

In the NPPA Photojournalism Award for Reporting category, Chris Vanderveen of KUSA-TV is the runner-up. The finalists were Ingrid Allstaedt of WLOS-TV, Larry Blunt of WLOS-TV, Joe Fryer of KING-TV NBC, Nelson Garcia of KUSA-TV, John Le of WLOS-TV, Lindsey Seavert of KARE-TV, Kevin Torres of KUSA-TV, and Huppert and Vanderveen.

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.

NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism contests were sponsored again this year by VisCom at Ohio UniversityCamera Bits, and by Michigan State University's School of Journalism.