Today we’d like to introduce you to Kaitlin Newman.
Hi Kaitlin; we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have always had a love and passion for journalism. I started my journey in high school; I was the editor of the music section of our paper, The Hawkeye. We had journalism as an actual class which was pretty cool. When I went to college, Towson University, my first major was political science. It didn’t take long for me to switch to journalism. I remained in the journalism major for six years, filling the extra two with internships. I also proceeded onto graduate school there, studying professional writing with a focus on long-form journalism. I received my Master’s of Science in 2016.
I was a part of the generation right in the middle of the evolution from print to online news. My journalism classes included writing, audio, photo, and digital media. We had to learn how to be reporters in both skill and ethics, and we also had to learn how to amplify the news we reported on. This unique period set my generation apart from those before and after; we grew up on print and broadcast news but were at the forefront of social media and news being what they are today. We had to learn how to be our own brand and keep our work cohesive.
My focus on Photojournalism happened when I took Photojournalism as an elective my sophomore year. My professor, Monica Lopossay, a former Baltimore Sun photographer, instilled a passion and drive for this aspect of journalism for me. As life has it, I now teach that same class at Towson at the same age Monica was when she taught me. I attribute my success as a freelancer to this evolution and learning as it unfolded.
Another big part of my journalism journey was that of my online presence. One of my required journalism classes was Digital Publishing, taught by Dr. Spaulding. This class had us create a blog which we designed and coded ourselves. We were allowed to pick our topic, focusing on something niche and interesting. I chose film photography for my niche. I got really into it, and ten years later, I still keep up the same blog. It is now read in 100+ countries and has won multiple awards. It is no longer about the film, but I talk about my life as a journalist and post my documentary work and tutorials. You can find out more about it at www.visualindividual.blog.
When I was in my early twenties, I started shooting for The Baltimore Sun as an intern and then later as a contracted permalancer (like a freelancer, but I was shooting up to 4x a week). I did that for about five years before moving on to The Baltimore Business Journal as another permalancer. I covered a lot of arts and entertainment, feature news, and environmental portraits. This combination and utilizing my photo, writing, and social media skills helped me amplify and project my work.
*While sandwiched in between those transitions, I started covering protests and conflict in Baltimore and DC around the time the marches and riots against police brutality began. This ignited a passion in me for shedding light on serious issues that plague our society and community and amplifying the voices of those who don’t have a platform to do so. That plague our society and community and amplifies the voices of those who don’t have a platform; this type of coverage opened the door for me to break into the news industry to cover more serious matters. This period also taught me a lot about my privileges in race and class and exposed me to many people who helped me become a better listener. I am forever grateful for them trusting me to document their stories.
Today serious, ongoing topics remain my specialty focus and my most fulfilling aspect of being a journalist.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
Journalism is NEVER a smooth road. Not only is it a hard industry to break into, but it’s also tough to be sustainable in. Newspaper staffs are shrinking around the country. Over 100 newspapers closed down in the past few years, probably more.
I am fortunate to have editors who trust me to take on assignments and compensate me fairly. I am also privileged to be able to turn down certain clients as well. I also do a lot of documentary work for private clients who see the value in ethical and truthful storytelling to get their ideas and missions across. I do not work with clients I deem unethical or with practices that don’t align with treating people fairly.
Another struggle is the general climate towards the media from the public. Journalists used to blend into the background, as we should while covering news. When Trump rose to power and began his “fake news” rhetoric, the attitude towards the media became very hostile to the point where we had to protect ourselves in covering unfolding events consciously. Protestors and police have attacked me; we are often sandwiched between the opposing groups, and it’s often like a rock and a hard place. I always keep protective gear in my trunk, and that’s the way it is now.
Lastly, another struggle in journalism is the mental health of those a part of it. It can be a very lonely and isolating line of work, especially when you’re the one covering things, and so many people who haven’t seen these things unfold firsthand have opinions not based on fact. Telling a person’s story requires a balance of empathy and disassociation; walking that line requires a lot of mental stamina. You have to be empathetic enough to tell the story and to do it justice, but you also have to keep emotion at arm’s length to see the story. Most of my very close and trusted friends are other journalists.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a photojournalist covering social issues, breaking news, features, arts, and entertainment. I am mostly known for covering protests, women’s issues, and concert work. I am most proud of my stories that have helped people. I have two long-form photo stories on my website, Ryan Diviney and Dale Crities, as well as my work that focuses on and brings awareness in factual and correct ways to people who might not have understood the plight of others. I take great pride in covering all aspects of a situation ethically. My experience and education set me apart from people – I have been involved in journalism since I was sixteen, which is half my life. I have had the privilege of living in a city with many stories. I try hard to capture events as they happen and convey the emotion and ideas of the people behind said events.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I was fortunate to continue to work during the pandemic, covering various stories from vaccination to funerals to testing sites in the thick of the shutdown. I learned that the news industry, despite its many faults and shrinking news staff, will always be a human thing. You cannot have robots replicating the job we do as journalists. I also learned that we all need a break. Before the pandemic, I took three to four daily assignments and felt guilty when taking any time off – my FOMO was pretty all-encompassing. Covid taught me to slow down and appreciate my life and those in it. It also taught me to treat myself better. It’s ok to rest and say no.
- Website: www.kaitlinnewman.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kaitlinobscura
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kaitlinnewman