Brooks Alum Shares Emmy with Detroit Free Press Team

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Brooks Institute Visual Journalism alum Stephen McGee recently shared a national Emmy award for a project titled, “Michigan Marines: Band of Brothers.”

Brooks Institute Visual Journalism alum Stephen McGee recently shared a national Emmy award for a project titled, “Michigan Marines: Band of Brothers” when the awards were presented in New York.

The award was the first ever given in the category called Outstanding Current News Coverage for Broadband, a new distinction resulting from the emergence of multimedia and video storytelling on the Web.

As part of a team of photographers, producers and reporters at the Detroit Free Press newspaper, McGee co-produced a six-month, 23-part series combining still and video storytelling posted on the newspaper’s website. McGee and another photographer shot and assembled the pieces in the series, all on deadline. The entire project may be viewed at .

McGee covered the Marines stateside, while fellow staff photographer David Gilkey and reporter Joe Swickard followed the Marines to Iraq. The stateside story required McGee to serve as reporter, videographer, still photographer and producer. McGee also worked with reporter John Masson and others. According to Free Press Managing Editor/Digital Media Nancy Andrews their efforts made McGee and Gilkey key contributors to this project.

Another Brooks Institute alum, Brian Kaufman, contributed to the project.

“Stephen has had a huge impact on the Free Press and by extension our profession,” said Andrews. “We could not have done this without him. David and Stephen were the perfect match, blending their experience, hard work and creativity. We helped teach Stephen journalism, he helped teach us video editing. All of us shared a passion for storytelling, our subjects and excellence overall.”

Five of the episodes were edited to a 20-minute segment to represent the entire series. These were entered in the competition held by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Judges were also given the URL of the complete series to review at their discretion. The Michigan Marines project was selected over other leading journalism finalists who included PBS’ Frontline,, and The Free Press was nominated for two other awards, one of which was shot and produced by McGee.

McGee attended the Emmy awards and was impressed with the level of the competition. “With each clip you saw how well they shot their projects and you just sank lower in your seat,” said McGee. When Emmy award presenter Dan Rather opened the envelope, McGee said it seem like an eternity before he called their project’s name. When Andrews accepted the award, McGee’s excitement was running high. “I actually didn’t hear what she said,” McGee noted.

Before the ceremonies, McGee had a slight premonition about the Emmy that was to come. He met Rather during the cocktail hour and mentioned he and others were nominees. At the end of the conversation, Rather joked, “I’ll see you on stage, son.” McGee appreciated the support but said, “I didn’t believe him.”

When the Detroit team actually got to the stage, Rather recognized McGee and remembered what he said. “I told you I would see you on stage,” Rather reminded him.

Photographers at the Detroit paper shoot both still and video, depending on the nature of the story and the needs of the paper. Both skills were part of the Brooks curriculum McGee encountered while in school. When he was hired in Detroit it was with the intention that McGee would teach the staff to shoot and edit video as well as complete daily photography assignments. His work at Brooks also got McGee into the Eddie Adams Workshop where he met Andrews who later hired him.

McGee credits much his own growth and the high performance of the Detroit photography and video department to Andrews, a former newspaper photographer of the year award winner when she worked for the Washington Post. He said Andrews pushed to have the photo department be the video and multimedia provider at the paper, drawing on the photographers’ visual skills to tell stories. “She made credible arguments to do things the right way,” said McGee. “She’s a genius.”

This was the first Emmy for the Detroit Free Press, which previously has won the Pulitzer Prize eight times.

About Brooks Institute
Brooks Institute celebrates more than 60 years of educating students in the visual and media arts. With campuses in Santa Barbara and Ventura, California, the school offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in fields including Professional Photography, Visual Journalism, Film and Video Production and Graphic Design, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography. Brooks’ graduates are visible nationally and internationally, working for distinguished organizations including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times and other national media outlets, including Hallmark Publishing, Cousteau Society, HBO, Kodak and other industry leaders in the visual media arts fields. For more information about Brooks Institute and the school’s programs, visit , or call 805-966-3888.

Jim McNay
Brooks Institute
(805) 966-3888

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