Duluth Workshop Melts Writing Freeze

News Director, multi-Emmy award winning anchor/reporter and NATAS-UMW Board of Governors member Barbara Reyelts hosts workshop at KBJR-TV

What happens when you put a number of hungry, creative and eager journalists in one room? The creative juices start to flow and the pizza is gone in the blink of an eye.

Nearly two dozen news managers, anchors, multimedia journalists, photographers and even Meteorologists attended the “Emmys on the Road” story-telling workshop at The Northland’s Newscenter KBJR-TV in Duluth on March 26th, 2011.

The Duluth, MN news market (139) may be small, but the product is comparable of that to a medium-to-large market.  How do you obtain such a feat? As a journalist you have to be willing to learn new methods to keep improving your product. Even if you may think you know all the tips and tricks, a refresher never hurts.  It is possible to produce “big market” stories in “small” markets.

NATAS-UMW Executive Director John Murray moderates workshop critiques

The free workshop presented journalists  and story-tellers with WDIO-TV, FOX 21 KQDS-TV and  WDSE (Public TV) award-winning stories and gave them a chance to talk about the creative process and execution of a story from concept to completion. Discussions between NATAS-UWM Executive Director John (JJ) Murray and the journalists touched on everything from story construction, personalization to shooting and editing techniques.

“At minimum, you feed off JJ’s compassion and energy that he brings to the job, reminding you of why you got into it to begin with.,” said FOX 21 News Anchor Nick LaFave.  “More than that, it’s a chance to learn simple techniques to make huge improvement in your craft,” said LaFave.

One of the most discussed topics was getting the best natural sound. While it’s not too difficult to get NATS of cars, birds, kids, etc. – sometimes the hardest sound to get is that of silence. There are times where you want to let a sound bite breath. Even if it’s just for two or three seconds, it gives the viewer a chance to process what was said and lets the emotions settle in.

“The workshop truly inspired me to challenge myself as a reporter; dig deeper for content that matters and bring my viewers the stories they deserve!,” said Fox 21 reporter Tracee Tolentino.  ” It can often be difficult reporting in a small market, but it was so encouraging to hear that you don’t need to be in a big market to do meaningful stories,” said Tolentino.

Kevin Jacobsen (right) is an awardwinning anchor/reporter at Northland's Newscenter in Duluth

Participants at the March 26th event also shared their work with the group and opened up the opportunity for critiques. From hard news to features there was a good mix of some of the market’s best work. You learn best from your peers. When it involves peers from the competition you know you can take their word to heart. There was a lot of great discussion from news directors to producers on everything from writing to editing. Several of the journalists who attended are talking about setting up a monthly critique session between all the stations.

-Kevin Jacobsen
Anchor & Producer, Northland’s NewsCenter