Multimedia journalist Jason Plotkin of the York Daily Record won the 2014 Journalist of the Year DFMie for mid-sized newsrooms.
The editors’ nomination detailed his outstanding year.
For his community leadership, passion for people, personal drive for truth and gift for storytelling, please consider Jason Plotkin for Journalist of the Year.
A multimedia journalist, Jason seeks out stories, brings them forth and makes them awesome. He shoots photos, produces video, makes documentaries. He Touts, tweets, blogs. He reports and writes. He never coasts. He earned three monthly DFMies this year.
He’s the guy for spot news photos and cute kid pictures. He’s the guy for high school sports and conversation-changing enterprise. And he’s the guy to bring our community together. Among his exceptional 2013 efforts:
- The Hands and Heart of Paul Miller: When a man woke from a coma to find his hands and feet amputated, he gave thanks. Jason’s documentary tracks the highs and lows of Miller’s journey toward robotic hands, and how faith played a role in his outlook.
- Machete attack survivor: In 2001, a man attacked a kindergarten classroom with a machete. One victim — then age 5 but now 18 — came forward from a community that had swept away the incident. With patience and empathy, Jason and a reporter drew out her memories over many months. Jason’s photojournalism was compelling, but his interviewing work is what helped bring this story to a community that could draw strength from how one of its own blossomed after a tragedy.
- Transgender Civil War re-enactor: Jason owned our two-week, all-out multimedia coverage of the Battle of Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary, which brought hundreds of thousands to our backyard. He produced captivating photo galleries and video stories full of action and fun. But his video of a transgender re-enactor told a serious story with an appropriate tone.
- Burger King funeral: Jason’s image of a woman placing a Whopper on her father’s casket — because the man loved fast food — resonated nationally. The image was published in major magazines, on CNN and NBC News, and earned Jason national AP photo of the month honors.
- Touting pumpkins: Jason jumps on new technology. When a new social video sharing app called Tout came down from DFM, and when someone stole a local boy’s giant pumpkin — and later returned it with an apology — Jason found a creatively simple and fun way to tell the story.
- Immediacy and engagement: Jason championed a workflow using a DSLR camera and digital tablet to immediately tweet photos from the sidelines of major sporting events. The workflow has since become standard for our photographers at news scenes. He also leads seminars with local firefighters to teach the benefits of sharing news and images via Twitter, keeping their communities informed.
- Sparking discussion: Jason blogs about his experiences in the field, and they usually result in great journalism debates. One post, about his encounter with a homeless woman on a sub-zero-degree morning, sparked industry conversation about the responsibilities of journalists as good citizens.
- DART Center for Journalism and Trauma taskforce: After a project about the lasting effects of a school shooting earned an honorable mention in the Dart Center’s national awards for trauma and journalism, Jason participated in a Dart panel discussion on how the project came together. He and a colleague are now working with company executives to create the groundbreaking DFM Trauma Awareness and Peer Support Program.
In addition to winning Journalist of the Year, Plotkin was a finalist in two other categories: He and Brandie Kessler were finalists in feature/lifestyle/entertainment journalism for the story of the transgender re-enactor and his video about Paul Miller was a finalist in the long-video category.
Jason Plotkin has a wonderful visual range, and a voice that can translate into different media and still match his subject. He seems to see his assignments with a sideways cock to his head: “How can I make this different? Is this better as a video? What angles would be unusual?” To say his visuals complement text would be an understatement: They do not overwhelm the text, but somehow allow the text to shine brighter. Though his medium is visual, his impact is far deeper, which makes him an excellent journalist, and journalist of the year.
Plotkin was also a finalist in feature/entertainment/journalism and long video. Judges weren’t asked to provide comments about the finalists, but a long-video finalist volunteered this comment about Plotkin’s video:
We’d like to give special recognition to Jason Plotkin of the York Daily Record for his video about Paul Miller. Plotkin did a nice job of being at the right place at the right time to capture the emotional moments of Miller’s journey that helped tell his story. It was great that he was able to spend a lot of time with Miller so we could see his story unfold.
This is one of four DFMies for the York Daily Record and one of seven for Pennsylvania newsrooms.
As one of four Journalist of the Year winners, Plotkin went into a second round of judging with new judges to select the Digital First Media Journalist of the Year. The winner of that award will be announced April 23 at the DFMies program in St. Paul, Minn.
About Jason Plotkin
Plotkin, a 1993 graduate of Shippensburg University, has been a visual journalist with the York Daily Record for the past 10 years.
In that time, he has covered stories ranging from fires and features to presidents and Penn State football. Jason engages the public with passion and compassion and drives for truth in his storytelling. He is a multimedia journalist who shoots photos, produces video and makes documentaries. He Touts, tweets, blogs, reports and writes.
He has been married to his wife Melissa for 17 years and has two daughters, Hannah, 13, and Ella, 6.
Other finalists for Journalist of the Year in mid-sized newsrooms were:
- Photojournalist Sarah Reingewirtz of the Pasadena Star-News for her black-and-white photo project on a homeless woman, “Dorothy’s Journey,” and other work.
- Reporter Beau Yarbrough of the Los Angeles News Group, whose coverage in 2013 included reporting on a verbally abusive teacher and an accountant who embezzled from a school district.
The 2013 Journalist of the Year for mid-sized newsrooms was Brian Charles of the Pasadena Star-News (now of the New Haven Register).