D.C. Trip - Day Three
On day three of our trip, Cal, Dan, Brittainy, JuliAnna, and myself were able to sleep in because we are staying at Cal’s house in Merrifield, Virginia, which is about 15 minutes away from where USA Today is located in McClean, Virginia. This is amazing to me because our meeting at USA Today was at 9:30 a.m. so sleeping in this week means waking up at 8 a.m.
At USA Today, we met with Andy Scott, deputy managing editor and director of unmanned aerial systems (drones), Jack Gruber, visual journalist, and Chris Powers, visual assignment editor. USA Today provides news to local publications around the U.S. that serves over 100 markets. USA Today takes local news from their markets and gives them national attention and vise versa. Andy, Chris, and Frank all gave us lots of advice that will help us as we finish up at RIT and enter the real world. Here are some of my favorite quotes from all three of them:
“You wanna be valued in the newsroom.”
“Think about who your audience is.”
“Embrace the change.”
“Read as much as you can, it’s only going to cut to the chase.”
“You’re part of the team.”
‘You have a voice, own it, own it from beginning to end.”
“Have a positive attitude, we want someone who will provide solutions.”
All of these things boil down to being prepared, knowing the story, and don’t be an asshole. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “don’t be an asshole,” I’d be rich. It like “don’t shake the baby.” That means “don’t shake the baby.”
As USA Today’s focus is on news, sports, and storytelling, it is a place that I would be interested in working at. I am particularly interested in their drone work, 360 video, and covering sports, politics and news for them. I remember watching a 360 video by USA Today of wing walkers on an airplane. That’s how I was introduced to 360 video. I am also interested in doing drone work for USA Today. I am taking a drone class at RIT this semester and I really want to start working drone stills and video into my workflow. I think that being able to show the world from above without having to hire a photographer or pilot to fly me around is something that is very useful in todays world.
After visiting with USA Today, we then drove from McClean, Virginia back to D.C. where we met with Kainaz Amaria, editor of Vox visuals. Vox is different from some of the places we have visited so for as they don’t tell you the news, they make sure you understand the news by using data, graphics, design, and photography. While visiting with Kainaz, she talked about an ethical dilemma about “taking pictures of someone on their worst day for my personal gain.” In other words, Kainaz has an issue with photographers trying to advance their career by taking pictures of people on their worst when the photographer isn’t working for a news service. I think that is a good point and made me think about the way that we as photojournalists are trying to make it in the industry.
“You’re always going to have a rabbit you’re chasing,” said Kainaz. She was referring to creating something so good in your career, that you’ll always be working to create something as good as what you’ve created before. I think it is always important to be “rabbit chasing” and producing great content as much as you can. I really enjoyed visiting Vox and I am really interested in what they are doing and where they go moving forward, as the company is only three and a half years old.
Our final visit of the day was to AARP where we met with Michael Wichita, director of photography, and Katrina Zook, photo editor. AARP’s mission is to show the quality of life as we age through information, advocacy and service. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Michael said, “I’m hiring you for your vision and you’re brain and how you see the world.” This was not the first time I heard this. When I went to Eddie Adams XXIX, my coaches were Pancho Bernasconi, vp/news at Getty Images, Damon Winter, staff photographer at New York Times, and Chelsea Matiash, previously at TIME and now at The Intercept. It was after our first day of shooting our stories with the theme of “equality.” We all had some pretty rough shoots and that’s when Pancho and Damon sat us down and told us we need to shoot how we always have. There’s a reason that we are all accepted to the Eddie Adams workshop and that we are all really good photographers. They told us to shoot how we always have and don’t try and shoot to impress someone. In the real world, editors don’t want us to change how we shoot because the reason they hired us is because of our style, vision, and who we are as a photojournalist. Since hearing that advice, it has always stuck with me in whatever I am shooting. I think this is one of the most influential things that I have heard since I first became interested in photojournalism.
Day three was a success and I am looking forward to day four. We will be visiting Washington Post and National Geographic tomorrow, as well as the RIT Alumni reception!
Stay tuned for day four!