ATHENS, GA (May 30, 2016) - The upcoming National Press Photographers Association’s Southeast Storytelling Workshop sold out three weeks in advance.
Organizers Matt Pearl and John Kirtley said they’ve designed a workshop that appeals to the entire newsroom, and they’re excited to be able to host it in the Southeast region of the country.
Pearl, a reporter with WXIA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, and Kirtley, the assistant chief photojournalist with WLOS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Asheville, NC, are the event’s chairs, and they’re thrilled that it’s already a sell-out.
“One thing I think it says is that the Southeast as a region has really been starved for this kind of workshop,” said Pearl.
He said that while there are journalists coming from all over the county, the bulk of attendees are students and journalists from the Southeast.
“That means a lot to me, because John and I have both worked in this region for quite a few years, and we believe there is such strong storytelling talent, and we want to see that talent cultivated as much as possible,” Pearl said.
Kirtley said he is excited to see people be exposed to powerful visual storytelling for the first time because it helps them to realize that there is more to journalism than simply regurgitating facts, and that journalists can learn to push themselves to the next level.
“When people get exposed to that for the first time it's just such an exciting moment, and it re-energizes me and I think it re-energizes everyone at these conferences,” he said.
Pearl has been a conference speaker before, and he said that it’s always exciting to reach out to people and to inspire them though though his work. He said this time it will feel special as an organizer because it’s a powerful thing to bring all of these people together who have a common goal of wanting to do great work.
“So to see people that are this excited and enthusiastic about just getting better at their craft, that's what I'm looking forward to,” he said, “meeting all those people and just hopefully seeing them really cultivate what they learn and following them down the road.”
Pearl said workshops like the Southeast Storytelling Workshop are important because they take journalists out of their world of daily deadlines and enable them to look at the bigger picture and think about their craft and their goals.
He also encourages people who come to really consider how they are going to put all of the information they learn into practice beginning with the day they go back to work.
“I think the biggest challenge of attending a workshop like this is you get so inspired and you get so enthusiastic, and then you get back to work and you have to figure out how to put it all into what you do on a daily basis,” Pearl said. “I think the important thing when you go to something like this is figuring out how to make it last.”
“Our mission is to spread the good word of powerful visual storytelling, and that's something that comes from the top down. It can't be just a couple of folks in the newsroom,” Kirtley said.
Kirtley makes the point, “visual storytelling is not just a photographer's concept, it applies to the entire newsroom, and the more people who understand this the less mediocrity will go out on our airwaves and onto our Web sites.”