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Q: When did you get involved with TNH?

A: I was there the first week of my freshman year… I just wanted something to do. I loved taking pictures… I went in there like, ‘Please sir, do you have a job for me?’ I pretty much never looked back from there. It went pretty quickly. I became staff photographer for a little while, then photo editor [and] then managing editor.

Q: What do you do now?

A: Now I am the multimedia editor for a small daily newspaper in Petersburg, Virginia. Before that, I free-lanced and before that I was a staff photographer for Seacoast Online.  

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself before UNH. How did you get into journalism?

A: I was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia in the southwest part of the state. In high school I took a photography class and a photojournalism class. [A photographer] from the Roanoke Times came to do a show and tell in my photo class… That was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I loved his pictures and I loved his description of being a photojournalist– that the camera is a passport into worlds that you otherwise have no business going into; [there’s a] sense of adventure and exploration.  

Courtesy Photo UNH English/journalism alumni of ‘07 and former TNH member Scott Yates.
Courtesy Photo
UNH English/journalism alumni of ‘07 and former TNH member Scott Yates.

Q: UNH is pretty far from Virginia. What brought you up here?

A: My grandfather retired from the Pease air force base, so I’ve been vacationing in the Seacoast since before I was born… I have been essentially calling New England home in the summer time. When I was in the market for colleges they suggested UNH and I did a campus visit and absolutely loved it… Then winter came and I was rethinking everything. But I ended up staying all four years.

Q: Did you do any internships while at UNH?

A: I worked in editorial and creative services for a bit, which was cool. I also had a photo internship at the Portsmouth Herald. When I earn a million and a billion dollars and I am able to endow UNH with my money, I am going to start a photojournalism program there because there is none… Photography is my passion and has been since before my time at UNH. I am a visual guy not a writer, [so I] weaseled my way into a photo internship to graduate… My intent of being critical of UNH’s lack of visual journalism education is in no way denouncing the great and honorable work of my professors like Sue Hertz and Lisa Miller, whose unenviable task it was to teach this photographer how to write.

Q: What is something you credit your success to?

A: A general sense of privilege by no doing of my own. That’s my white privilege talking. But also, if I’m honest with myself and I am honest about my strengths and weaknesses, I am very passionate and excel in photography and creating visuals. But I am open that I am not the strongest writer in the world. I can report for days but putting that info…into 600 words drives me bonkers, but my willingness to do it anyways if the boss man tells me to…with a smile on my face has opened a lot of doors. It’s a matter of being versatile in a skillset and owning skills and weaknesses. Another thing is…we can always do something better and we can always do something different. I’ll tend to stay on my toes and always do my best and that keeps my level of skill as high as it can go. And that has led to my success, if you can call me successful.

Q: Did you write any pieces for TNH?

A: I did a couple of profiles because I was forced to for a feature writing class… I did a couple on the music scene of UNH. One was called ‘Dorm room rockers.’ It profiled a garage band in the dorm rooms. I just went around to the fifth floor of [the Gables] B tower following the music and the noise… It got on the front page, the story didn’t suck and I made some cool pictures to go with it. In retrospect, it became a cool launching pad or first draft of a multimedia series that continued through to my professional jobs called “Backstage pass.” It’s Q&A reporting with cool audio interviews overtop of a scrolling slideshow. That was my writing experience at TNH.  

Q: At your time at TNH, are there any stories that you covered that stand out to you? Your favorite? Least favorite?

A: My least favorite will always be speakers at a podium. Some of my favorite times were the 2004 Boston Red Sox riots on campus… Students went apes-t burning cars and dumpsters. Police came on horseback with riot gear. Thanks to some excellent guidance from the editors at the time and a well placed photo press pass, I was able to take pictures in and out of the police line… That was really cool. [It was] my first taste of a very compromising situation, and [of] pepper spray. Another cool one on campus…was the consecration ceremony of Gene B. Robinson…an openly gay bishop. That was national news. I sweet talked my way through security to be in the photo pool and got some really awesome access to that national news story. Also, general late night shenanigans in [TNH’s] office. Nothing brings people together like common suffering…and that sense of camaraderie carries through every job after graduation as well. Every moment in that office was an amazing transition period in my life.

Q: What is your favorite TNH memory?

A: I met my first serious girlfriend in the office there, so that was positive. When I was managing editor I hung out a lot with Editor-in-Chief Patrick McClary. He was an amazing buddy and we were pretty much inseparable. We were the two guys that decided to switch [TNH’s] printing press from one to another to enhance the visual quality of paper and save some money.

Q: You obviously have a lot of experience in multimedia storytelling. Why do you think it’s important for news outlets to switch to this aspect in the digital age?

A: It’s so important because our world is a visual world and the digital medium is perfect to distribute that. There’s virtually unlimited space on our websites. That said…a lot of our citizens of the world are visually illiterate… A lot of people don’t recognize what makes a good piece… As visual as we are, we are very illiterate… Taking visuals seriously will make you go far in this digital age.

Q: Are there any stories from your professional career that stand out to you?

A: There are the high profile assignments with presidential candidates [and] the dangerous ones during bomb scares or fires, but the things I find most exciting or important are the quiet moments with regular people who aren’t even leading exceptionally extraordinary lives, but having moments with them that are real and me being in a position to bring that truth and beauty to my readers.  

Q: What is your advice to aspiring journalists?

A: I touched upon this a little before, but we live in a visual world. However, most people are visually illiterate. I want to encourage current students and professionals to take a photo or video class and take it seriously. I help manage a newsroom and I help supervise reporters who have to take their own pictures and video a lot of the time and I know every assignment could turn into exceptional reporting that just freakin’ nails it and brings it home, however a lot of reporters and writers have no idea how to visually report a story and we are missing that mark. I’m not saying everyone has to be a Pulitzer Prize winner in every aspect, but knowing basic visual language can be the difference between making a shot and getting a point.  

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