Sioux Falls Workshop Story-Telling Passion

Nearly 50 professionals and college students learn how passion and skills make the best stories while attending the NATAS-Upper Midwest Emmy on the Road workshop Saturday January 29th at Kilian College in Sioux Falls, SD.

KELO-TV Chief Photojournalist Kevin Kjergaard shares his Emmy-winning entry "Dominic Moore's Wish"

Passion and heart are just as important to story-telling as knowing how to write and shoot.   That’s what many of the nearly 50 professionals and college students are saying after attending the NATAS-Upper Midwest Emmy on the Road workshop Saturday January 29th at Kilian College in Sioux Falls, SD.

The session’s guest speaker KELO-TV Chief Photojournalist Kevin Kjergaard knows all to well that major-market story telling is a frame of mind and not a physical location.  Kevin started his TV career while he was still in high school in the 1980’s.  Kjergaard was nominated six times before receiving his first Emmy in 2009 for a story that not only touched his heart, but the heart of his co-workers and his community.

Kevin Kjergaard/Chief Photojournalist KELO-TV
Dominic Moore's Wish received the Emmy for Continuing Coverage in 2009

“Dominic Moore’s Wish” “The story started with an ordianry phone call to the newsroom.  It was one of those calls that anyone at any station could have dismissed as not news,” Kjergaard told the audience.  “What started as a single story, turned into 5 stories that touched people in the community in such a way that many volunteered to help a dying young man get his last wish for his mother,” Kjergaard said.

“It was tough, Dominic was dying and couldn’t move around much, he was shy and he lived in a humble home where video was very limited,” Kjergaard told the crowd.  “This story really came from our station’s hearts.  Even though I shot a lot of this on my own time, the rest of ourstaff pitched in on every shoot because they all wanted to help tell Dominic’s story” Kjergaard said.

“I tried to do it like every story I work on. I was honest. I was honest when I talked with Dominic about how I would tell his story, I was honest in how I shot the story, I was honest in how I recorded the story, and I was honest in how I edited his story, Kjergaard said.  “Anything added or subtracted intentionally on my part would make this more my story than his. That’s not honest. I also got to know him, even for a short time,  I still took the time to learn what he liked most about his life, who and what was important.”

Professionals and students meet for the Sioux Falls Emmy workshop

Nearly 50 professionals and students took part in the workshop.  Kevin has this advice for video journalists.  “Keep rolling. Tape is tape. You are there anyway, leave when you have to but take advantage of the time you have.   Some of the best things that happen at a shoot can be by accident.  You will never have to wish you had it, you will.  I don’t believe this means you are over shooting, you are just not letting a good moment slip by. You can be selective in the edit room.

Editing, I would just remind everyone to let those moments breathe. Viewers don’t inhale all at the same time, so let everyone catch a breath of your work at the same time.   There are times to be quick and to the point, and there are times to let your story relax, work on your timing, and your shooting and editing will improve so much that you should hug yourself,  it will be well deserved.”

News managers, anchors, producers, reporters, photographers as well as students from the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Wayne State College in Nebraska got a chance to share ideas while critiquing each other’s work.

“Our students really enjoyed and got a lot out of the workshop.  They talked about it all the way back to Vermillion,” said USD Preofessor Michelle Van Maanen.

“The workshop helped me to understand how important having really great video is for a story,” said South Dakota State University student Jenna Petrak.  ” There are so many elements to think about then shooting video and each shot needs to fit perfect with the audio.  You made it clear through the videos we watched how important it is for all aspects of a story to work together,” Petrak said.

The workshop isn’t just for students and rookie journalists.  Even seasoned story-telling veterans like news anchor Don Jorgensen like attending these workshops with their staff.  “Try not to interview officials,” Jorgenson responed when asked about officals in stories.  “Try to use soundbites with emotion, not nuts & bolts information,” Jorgensen added.  Don anchors the evening newscasts at KELO-TV and he offers this additional advice.  ” Work closely and communicate with the photographer/editor so you’re both on the same page that’ll help you write quicker.  Talk about opening and ending shots and sound.  First and last impressions are huge,” Jorgensen said.

NATAS-Upper Midwest is working to bring you more Emmy on the Road workshops.  If you are interested in hosting a workshop, or you are an Emmy recipient and interested in presenting at one of our workshops please contact our Executive Director John (JJ) Murray at