l e h e m Aca d e m
Katie Campbell ’98
“I want to tell stories of substance that give voice to people on the margins and inspire meaningful public discourse.”
BA Alum wins an Emmy while making a difference one story at a time... Class of ’98 grad Katie Campbell takes great pride in her work as an environmental journalist, and with good reason... She has just won a Northwest regional Emmy for Best Topical Documentary! Yes, last issue we shared with you an alum from the class of ’71 who has two Emmys to lay claim to and now we can proudly add another alum to the Emmy fold! Katie has had a passion for journalism and photography right from the start. After graduating from BA, Katie made her way to St. Catherine’s University where she studied journalism and English. While in college, she applied the crafts she was learning for various publications both locally at the Faribault Daily News and Sun Newspapers and abroad with the South Wales Evening Post in the UK.
beat then, but I found environmental stories to be some of the most challenging to tell. Environmental issues can be extremely complex and difficult to understand. But these issues are incredibly important because the environment impacts everyone regardless of their political persuasion. I feel an enormous responsibility to help general audiences understand these issues,” Katie said. Then Katie’s career brought her to Florida to be the Quality-of-Life reporter for the Vero Beach Press Journal. It was also at this time that Katie connected with her future husband, Michael Werner, also a journalist working in Sarasota, Florida. Katie in speaking about their relationship, said, “We’ve been a couple for 10 years, and we’ve worked together for nine of those 10 years. Michael is a true partner in every way. He always pushes me to be the best I can be in every respect – as a writer, as a journalist, and as a human being.”
Once Katie graduated she became a political reporter for the Owatonna People’s Press. It was while she was working at OPP that Katie discovered environmental journalism. “The environment was a small part of my
Katie traveled and worked in places such as Costa Rica and Los Angeles, finally settling in the Northwest. She completed a graduate degree in narrative journalism at the University of Oregon. While in Oregon, Katie
Below is the Elwha Dam in Olympic National Park, and is now completely gone, allowing salmon to journey upstream and reclaim their native spawning grounds. Katie followed this dam removal project and produced her first Emmy-winning documentary.
taught photography in the journalism school and freelanced for several media outlets, including the following: Oregon Public Broadcasting, Oregon Quarterly, Eugene Magazine, Etude: The Journal of Literary Nonfiction and the Ladies Home Journal. Now Katie works as an environment journalist at the PBS-affiliate KCTS 9 in Seattle, where she produces multimedia stories and documentaries. When asked about her passion as a filmmaker, Katie had this to say, “I’ve always tried to be both a writer and a photographer. I never felt like I truly understood something until I wrote about it, and I’ve always felt like having a camera around my neck grants me license to be inquisitive. Photography has trained me to be observant — to see, really see, even when the camera isn’t up to my eye.” “In college and as a young journalist, I was told that I had to choose – you’re either a writer or you’re a photographer. I didn’t want to choose. I wanted to do both. It wasn’t until graduate school that I discovered documentary filmmaking. All of the sudden it clicked! In video you have to do both – you have to work with images and words in order to tell a story in video.” Whether I’m working with words or sound or pictures, storytelling is at the heart of what I do.” Multimedia and videography have provided an exciting journey for Katie. Her work has aired on national television and been nominated for several Emmys. She said, “When my first video aired on television, I was pleased, of course, but it ran late at night and I didn’t hear back from anyone who had seen it. When my first piece aired nationwide it was fun to tell my family and friends in Minnesota to tune in. And my stomach did a little flip when I heard Judy Woodruff of the NewsHour announce, ‘Our next piece is by Katie Campbell...’” “When I received my first Emmy nomination, I was pretty surprised. I had only been a TV journalist for about six months, and I knew that I was competing among journalists who had been producing videos for years, even decades. I felt honored to be
nominated. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Well, I must be doing something right!’ Now that I’ve been nominated for five Emmys, I’m happy that the stories I’ve been recognized for are ones that I’m most proud of.” And now with great pride and joy, Katie can lay claim to winning an Emmy as well! This Emmy was awarded for her recent piece about the largest dam removal project ever attempted. You can view it online at kcts9.org/elwha. Katie’s videos have the power to inform many, and with that knowledge she has recently turned her attention to controversial plans to build coal export facilities in the Northwest. These ports would allow coal in Wyoming and Montana to be shipped to Asia. “It’s inspiring to be producing a documentary that has the potential to inform the ongoing debate around this issue,” she said. “If these export facilities are built, Washington State would become the nation’s largest domestic exporter of coal. This would generate jobs and tax revenue, but it would also open a market for the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.” The documentary is online at kcts9.org/coal. When asked about her fondest memory of BA, Katie said, “I absolutely loved my time in the BA Band, from 5th grade all the way through senior year when I was the student conductor. The memories of playing at tournaments, football games, concerts and parades are some of my most vivid from high school. We worked hard, of course, but we had a ton of fun too. And I still remember every note of the trumpet solos for Louie Louie and In the Jungle.” Katie feels that BA had a profound impact on where she is today, stating, “I filled every minute of my time at BA to the brim. In addition to taking advanced classes, I was a three-sport athlete, and at the same time participating in both band and theater. First and foremost, I learned how to work hard and enjoy working hard. I learned to manage my time and be successful at everything I put on my plate. Developing those skills have been essential to success in my career.
There were no doors that were closed to me at BA. My time at BA instilled me with the belief that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to.” “I also learned that I wouldn’t be satisfied unless that thing I set my mind to was something important, something meaningful, something that had the potential to impact the world in a positive way.”
Katie and her husband Michael accept their first Emmys at The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Northwest Chapter Gala in June.
Katie also credits her English teacher and BA Star advisor Mr. Jason Wallestad for influencing her greatly as well, “He helped me realize that I definitely wanted to be a writer. From Mr. Wallestad, I learned that writing isn’t just about having natural talent – great writing usually doesn’t just glide out perfectly like syrup over pancakes. More often the process of writing can be extremely frustrating. He taught me that writing is a craft and it requires hours (or even days) of revising, revising, revising. He served as my editor as I wrote my Valedictory address, and he pushed me harder than I wanted to be pushed. But in the end, it was one of the first times I felt true pride in something I’d written. When I delivered the speech at graduation and the crowd stood and applauded, I knew I’d gotten the speech right and that the message resonated. From that experience, I learned that the best kind of writing is writing that you work and rework until you want to throw yourself on
Katie had to overcome her fear of heights to photograph Wyoming’s open-pit coal mines, which are some of the largest in the world.
the ground and wail (which I did then and have done many times since). Now when I find myself in the throes of a particularly challenging piece, I remember that feeling of sheer agony that I felt when I was struggling to write that speech and I know that I’m on the right path.” Regarding her future career plans, Katie said she is right where she always wants to be. She said, “Someone recently asked me what I would be if I weren’t a journalist. Without a second thought, I answered, ‘I’d be very depressed.’ Journalism is part of my DNA. I want to continue to grow as a journalist. I want to tell stories of substance that give voice to people on the margins and inspire meaningful public discourse.” We at BA wish Katie and her husband Michael all the best on their future assignments, and want them to know that we will be watching with great pride!!!
We share a common thread... That is BA. We want to share many stories of our alums and the paths that life is taking them. If you feel you know of someone who has an interesting story to tell, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on Jul 24, 2013