Breaking Into Photojournalism

I’ll never forget the first time video I shot aired on the evening news. It was 1992. U2 was in town for a concert at my alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More than 65,000 rabid Bono fans crammed into Camp Randall Stadium to see the Irish rockers jam out every hit single from Achtung Baby.

The concert went off without a hitch. It was the post-concert activity which led to my photojournalism debut. Some drunken idiots, who didn’t have tickets to the concert, but sat outside the stadium to soak up the residual sounds decided to pick fights as fans exited onto the streets surrounding Camp Randall.

A fellow broadcast journalism classmate of mine was videotaping reaction from U2 fans as they left the venue (for an assignment we had due later that week) when the fights broke out. I was exiting the concert just as the melee got underway and ran into my friend wielding his Hi-8 camera.

Long story short, he threw the camera to me while he chased down one of the victims for an interview. I rolled on the chaos, and thanks to my journalism professor, part of my fight footage ended up on the evening news the next day.

These days, it’s not unusual to view amateur photojournalists’ work on TV or the Internet. Smartphones make it easier than ever to capture pivotal moments in time. In fact, about five years ago CNN instituted what they call iReports, an opportunity for citizen journalists to submit video or photos taken of newsworthy events. The cable news network accepts video, photos and audio from a computer or cell phone, and then broadcasts the material to millions of viewers each day. So basically, I didn’t have to blow $90,000 paying for a degree in broadcast journalism. All I had to do is wait for technology to advance to the point where I could submit my video and wait for CNN producers to select it to air on CNN networks, CNN.com or other CNN platforms.

Who knew breaking into the world of photojournalism could be so easy?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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