Journalism takes a new direction

WCC’s new Journalism instructor Kimberlee Bassford – Photo by Jessica Crawford

Storytelling isn’t just a bedtime ritual—it’s a tradition deeply rooted in human civilization that traverses all mediums from speech to print to visual.

Set to debut a video journalism course fall 2016, WCC’s journalism instructor and Ka ‘Ohana adviser Kimberlee Bassford believes in good storytelling.

“Students will make their own short documentary films,” said Bassford. “We’ll be doing the same thing we do in print, but taking it to the visual medium.”

Newspapers no longer hold a monopoly. In the 21st century, there are online, photography and video outlets in addition to the papers. Journalists have to be multi-skilled and adept at different ways of communicating a message.

Bassford is passionate and ready to help move WCC toward the digital media era. The video journalism class will teach students the technical aspects of filmmaking, from cinematography to sound recording to editing. Students’ films will then be published online.

Bassford believes having more skills will make students more marketable and better storytellers.

“I think it [storytelling] matters no matter what you do in life, even if you aren’t a journalist or a filmmaker,” said Bassford. “When you go to job interviews, you have to tell a story about who you are and why you want this particular job. Being able to articulate clearly and persuasively is important in all fields.”

Robert Barclay, English associate professor and co-adviser of WCC’s film club, agrees that storytelling matters immensely.

“It puts a human perspective on things,” said Barclay. “It’s not telling you about people; it’s telling things through people.”

He said storytelling allows one to inhabit other charactersʻ points of view and gives us a sense of their humanity. As visual creatures and storytellers, we are seduced by stories, and we seduce others with them.

Although in her first semester at WCC, Bassford is already excited about the future. She chuckles with admiration when asked about following predecessor Libby Young’s legacy at the college.

“It’s a little intimidating coming after somebody who obviously built the program, but it’s also kind of wonderful,” said Bassford. “You’re not starting from scratch. We’ve [Libby and I] been in touch over the summer, and she shared with me what she’s done.”

Bassford has already made a stamp in the video journalism community. Her latest project “Winning Girl,” the four-year journey of a local teen judo and wrestling phenom, premiered last fall at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival. She is currently working on three new documentary projects.

“What I love about film is that it’s something that connects us,” said Bassford. “We dream in film. The way we dream and process memories is more akin to film than a book.”

Barclay mused, “You can take the skills you get from that and not only make video journalistic pieces, but you can take those skills and make creative pieces.”

For students, Bassford said her course could open up a whole new realm for people and is ideal for anyone passionate or curious about telling stories.

Keep your eyes peeled during registration next year. It’s time for WCC’s stories to go digital.

by Austin Weihmiller, Special to Ka ‘Ohana