Legend of multimedia journalism visits Incline  

The Nevada Humanities organization kicked off Pop-Up Salons with John Branch, Pulitzer Prize winner and seasoned sports reporter for the New York Times, at the Incline Village Public Library on Friday, March 25. Branch spoke to a group of around 50 community members. Media coach and former PBS news anchor Brent Boynton introduced Branch and led the discussion for the first hour.

Boynton asked Branch about his life before becoming a journalist as well as Branch’s plans for the future, among other subjects, then opened the discussion to questions from the audience.

When asked about the future of news, Branch said, “There would always be a need for newspapers.”

Newspapers aren’t regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so they don’t have to get their licenses renewed by the government every year, like TV and radio productions. This creates a greater opportunity for the truth to be found in paper rather than a television news broadcast.

“We have to have newspapers; we have to have people who are giving us the first version of history as newspapers are,” Branch continued. “I’m a big proponent of the First Amendment and Fourth Estate.”

Exposing the room that is hidden behind the curtain of sports, and taking his audience with him to the inner-circle of his story is what he loves about journalism; Branch sees this as an enjoyable obligation. He brings people into a world they would otherwise never have gotten a chance to view without him.

“I love reading people’s writing and then meeting them and hearing their story and what brought them to where they are,” Junior Jamie Wanzek said. “John Branch writes about the grit of sports, and the stories have a lot of substance, like the ones you don’t want to hear about because it’s tough to hear.”

Branch is best known for “Snow Fall,” the article that won him a Pulitzer in 2013, which chronicles a destructive avalanche at Stevens Pass Resort that killed six professional skiers.

The article is told through multimedia journalism that breaks up the 17,000-word story with photos, video interviews and graphics. About 20 different people are woven into the article.

“After the story ran, they had departments around the New York Times like Business, calling the Graphics department going: ‘hey, we have a cool story too. Can you ‘Snow Fall’ it for us?’” Branch said.

Branch said he gave information to editors and graphic designers, but he had “no clue” how they got it done.

“I get too much credit for the presentation of ‘Snow Fall,’” he said.

This legendary article has set a standard in modern journalism today and is taught in schools across the country and the world. Branch said there were many “unseen people” at the New York Times that helped to make the piece come together.