Photojournalism offers multi-platform skills that OHIO alums are using every day
Each month, Scripps College of Communication alum Ken Klein recaps trends and achievements across the college. For June, he examines multimedia skills of visual journalists.
Yes, Hannah Ruhoff (VisCom ’20) takes pictures—award-winning images of sports, breaking news and features.
She also writes news reports. And produces TikToks for the Sun Herald, a McClatchy-owned publication in southern Mississippi. In April, Ruhoff’s TikToks got more than a million views in the first 20 days of the month. Topics range from a water park opening in Foley, Alabama to gun violence in Biloxi, Mississippi.
“The role of the photojournalist is no longer one-dimensional,” sums up Professor Emeritus Terry Eiler, co-founder of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. “Most photographers are required to do sound, sound editing, stills and digital video, write scripts and produce for print, streaming, broadcast and social media. And commercial drone licenses are becoming a universal requirement, too.”
As the job market changes, so does visual communication training. Was Ruhoff trained in video?
“Yes, the photojournalism major at Ohio University includes video courses,” says Ruhoff. “They didn’t include making TikToks but it’s applicable skills.”
At ProPublica, VisCom alum Boyzell Hosey is senior editor for Visual Storytelling. Hosey will manage a $200,000 innovation grant to develop “a photographer or other visual reporter to expand investigative skills, help ProPublica expand beyond traditional narrative to explain complicated investigations and ultimately engage diverse audiences.”
Nationwide, Ohio University alumni personify the expanded, multi-platform role of visual journalists.
Forty-three visual journalists from Ohio University have won Pulitzer Prizes, according to Tim Goheen, director of the School of Visual Communication.
Pulitzer winner/alum Marcus Yam swept global photo awards for coverage of the US exit from Afghanistan, conflict in Gaza and the war in Ukraine. A gifted photographer who honed his skills at Ohio University after switching careers from aerospace engineering, Yam also writes from datelines around the world. When the Los Angeles Times sent him to London to cover the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Yam filed copy and photos.
Yam’s poignant social media posts from Ukraine featured short sentences in the present tense describing images of war.
Alumna Kainaz Amaria earned a photojournalism master’s degree in 2008 from the School of Visual Communication.
Since 2022 she has been national visual enterprise editor at The Washington Post, which describes her key role as “overseeing immersive, visual-first stories for the National desk at The Washington Post. She works closely with reporters and editors from all of National’s coverage teams, as well as partnering with the Audio, Data, Design, Graphics, Photo and Video departments to elevate Post coverage.”
Patrick Connolly (VisCom ’17) is a multimedia journalist at The Orlando Sentinel.
“I take videos, photos and write about Orlando’s bustling entertainment scene as part of the Things to Do team,” Connolly says. “I also work on a series called Central Florida Explorer, a blog in which I find unique Florida experiences and tell the world about them through visuals and text.”
Columbus and Dayton
In Columbus, the Gannett-owned Dispatch recently asked photojournalist Barbara Perenic (BA ’01) to expand her role by working more closely with editors and reporters to develop and present stories. Perenic self-describes herself as a “visual storyteller and idea piñata.”
Perenic and spouse David Jablonski (BSJ ’99) are instructors/mentors at the annual high school workshop sponsored by E.W. Scripps School of Journalism (July 11-15, 2023).
Sports journalist Jablonski is a writer/photographer/videographer for Cox First Media, which includes the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal News.
Likewise, multimedia journalist and VisCom alum Marc Lester takes still pictures and produces videos and stories at the Anchorage Daily News. Stories routinely are written and photographed by Lester.
The ability to find and photograph compelling images remains a valued skill, including “mobile journalism” generated by smartphones with high-quality cameras.
In Louisville, commercial photographer Dan Dry at marketing/PR/advertising agency PriceWeber has won more than 400 photo awards including decades of premier photos of the Kentucky Derby. Dry shares daily on social media “Today’s Found Art shot with my iPhone.”
“What I am doing daily these days with my iPhone camera for social media posts is not that different than what I did as a student at Ohio University,” says Dry. “Roommate Joe Vitti and I — 47 years ago with our Nikon cameras — would roam the Athens County countryside in search of what we then called ‘wild art;’ Joe for The Post and me for The Athens Messenger.”