Danny Gawolski

Video Editor, The Seattle Times

In 2010, the The Seattle Times Staff was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its comprehensive coverage, in print and online, of the shooting deaths of four police officers in a coffee house and the 40-hour manhunt for the suspect.

Q: You started as a photojournalist. What are the differences between video storytelling and photojournalism?

It is a very different story-telling medium and the differences come from that. Still photographers will likely need to improve their interview skills. They need to be more patient with their shots, knowing they will miss many things they could otherwise capture in a photograph. Audio is key, so you need to think with your ears as well as your eyes.

Really though, many of the skills you have as a journalist apply well to both. It all comes down to relationships with people. If you can relate well with people, they will open up to you, let you into their lives and allow you to tell their story. If you can capture their relationships with others in your images, you’ll be able to generate empathy in your audience and tell their story well.

Q: In 2010, you were part of the team that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. It was the first time that online coverage was specifically mentioned in a Pulitzer citation. Can you talk a little bit about working on that team and the significance of multimedia being recognized with a Pulitzer Prize? 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of working on that story. A part of me goes to work every day hoping I can walk back into that newsroom.

It was a Sunday. Many staffers, including myself, had the day off. But when I heard what happened and came into the office, every one was there, bearing down and doing their work. Every one knew what to do and we all worked together seamlessly. We had trained on social media, we had trained on multimedia, we had trained on online tools, but suddenly it all made sense. Everyone leveraged their years of experience in their own craft but also applied it across platforms we had never fully utilized before. And we did it again the next day, and the next and the entire week. With our executive editor reporting on Twitter from the newsroom, with our staff tweeting from the field, with our editors researching and curating information online, we reported in real-time. We innovated because we had to in order to deliver our community the news it wanted, fast and accurate. There was no doubt anymore that we were an online-first newsroom, distributing news – even our biggest stories – long before the printing presses whirred. Through the teamwork we had, we transformed into the online newsroom we knew we could be.

It’s hard to celebrate this award, as it came covering four absolutely senseless murders. However, it was confirmation that we are heading in the right direction. Many newspapers gave up breaking news to broadcast journalism. Now, the Internet has brought every newsroom into the 24/7 news cycle. The Seattle Times is mostly known for longer-term analysis and investigative series. I am proud to be a part of the team that showed how we can quickly adapt and be a source for breaking news as well.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring photo/video journalists?

Commit to a series of internships.  College can help you can gain a solid foundation for your journalism career. It’s up to you to build on top of that. The best way to learn journalism is to be out in the field, telling stories.   Find mentors you respect, find the organizations who are doing great work. Generate story ideas, work hard and learn from their critiques. And never forget that every story is about your subject and your audience, not you.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 11th, 2012 at 2:21 pm and is filed under PHOTOJOURNALISTS, PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.