Shot in the Dark
Starting as the overnight news photojournalist in December 1994, within the first 5-minutes in this strange new career path, I was on scene to cover my first homicide. Armed with a camera, microphone and police scanner, I pursued breaking news with passion. Competing with the other local stations to be first-on-scene, or capture the most compelling video, I leaned into the opportunity with my brand of strong work-ethic and moral compass.
How Could They do That?
Before working as a television news photojournalist, I never understood how news crews could ask for interviews during the most deviating and tragic time of their lives. Then one cold winter night I received a call to meet the parents of a 10-year-old boy who was struck by a drunk snowmobiler going 80mph. I was shocked. The parents, who were in the ER waiting room, called the station and wanted to talk, even as their son was near death. They turned their fear, pain and grief into a positive, wanting to warn others in hope no other family needlessly suffer from DWI snowmobile accidents. That courage and selfless compassion opened my eyes to the power of emotion and news media as change for good.
Another realization helping my transition from creative production to news, the world will always evolve around us, whomever is reporting the news. As a photojournalist, I was on the front lines of history as it unfolded. Documenting each event with my camera and microphone, capturing a visual record to educate and inform the public of all which is good, and to warn about the bad.
Moving on Up
After five-years on the overnight shift, setting a new standard in breaking news coverage, the efforts were noted by Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Doug Grow. My highly tuned scanner skills helped me capture a major exclusive, only blocks away from the Star-Tribune’s own offices.
The unique career of being an overnight breaking-news photojournalist, lead to being featured in the local weekly alternative news magazine, City Pages. That front-page feature story offered additional notoriety. Combined with my hard work and ability to outshine the competition on a regular basis, I was promoted to shoot and edit for the evening newscast.
Top of my Game
Consistently winning awards, creating great work, and being easygoing, I was promoted again to the Special Projects and investigative I-Team units, creating long-form and undercover stories for sweeps. Working with some of the most accomplished investigative journalists in the country, I was able to attain new levels of journalistic standards while continuing to create award-level work.
Always keeping up on the latest technology and production techniques, I was considered an expert in non-linear editing. when the station transitioned to HD production Tony helped lead and train the entire staff on Final Cut Pro.
Documenting History as it Unfolded
Seventeen-years in the news business, shooting and editing run-and-gun style productions on a daily basis, helped evolve and improve that creative, think-on-your-feet ability, only available within that day to day high pressure experience. During that time, I had the honor and responsibility to witness and document many historical events.
The most spectacular experience; being selected as the sole local TV news photojournalist for a day-long visit with President G.W. Bush. My day started with a Secret Service orientation at Air Force One, and from that point I was with the President every step of the way for the next 8 hours. I’ll never forget zooming down the interstate in the Presidential motorcade, at speeds near 100mph, or witnessing the brute-force arsenal of tripod mounted 50-caliber machine guns which travel with the President.
Time to Turn-off the News Spotlight
Becoming one of the top photojournalists in the Twin Cities market, started opening new doors and opportunities. After years of hard-working run-and-gun shooting, earning over 30-awards and nominations, the economics of the news business started changing and the Special Projects unit was dissolved. Seeing a dim future for the news business being able to produce quality in-depth journalism, I left the news business to pursue other production opportunities. Anything with less stress and more creative freedom.