The video is a winner from the start.
“I’m seventy- …” says veteran civil rights activist Daisy Fields before pausing, correcting herself, and bursting into laughter with reporter JC Whittington of WUSA-TV.
That moment of humor belies the significance of the discussion that follows: Fields—friend to Martin Luther King Jr., onetime neighbor of Rosa Parks—went on to talk about being forced to give up her seat, while pregnant, on a Montgomery, Ala., bus; about joining the bus boycott in December 1955 after Parks refused a similar order; about participating with King and 250,000 others in the 1963 March on Washington and then supporting her granddaughter’s decision to march in an anniversary event 57 years later.
WUSA knew it had something memorable.
“That was my first time having a story appear on our 11 o’clock news, which is kind of like our prime time,” says Whittington, a 2021 graduate of the Georgetown Master’s in Journalism program who won a Gracie Award for the piece from the Alliance for Women in Media. “I was, like, ‘Wow, this is just a story that I did for class.’”
And it was just a story—in the same way that Fields was just a grandmother. Or Nicholas Jackson, the subject of another video, was just a Black teenage bull rider from Upper Marlboro, Md. Or another of her protagonists, George London, was just her former high school physics teacher—who happened to be one of the U.S. Air Force’s first Black test pilots.
When Whittington came to Georgetown, her experience was mostly limited to short, live pieces. It was one of her instructors, Jarrad Henderson, senior multimedia producer at USA TODAY, who introduced her to video storytelling.
“That’s kind of where I want my career to go, because the industry is changing and we have to meet people where they are,” says Whittington, who is now a video producer for Politico. “And they are online.”