Storytelling with Impact: Master Class with Byron Pitts

This Master Class was originally broadcast on:
March 13, 2015 Enroll Now
Details about an archived replay of the event will be announced soon. If you registered in the live event, you are already enrolled.

Course Overview

Storytelling with Impact: Master Class with Byron Pitts
Master Class
Time Estimate:
There will be two 90-minute sessions for online participants (with an hour lunch intermission).

About Master Classes

A Poynter Institute Master Class is a unique opportunity to learn from a prominent journalist or other media star in an intimate, exclusive online broadcast or in-person event.

When you think about the biggest news events of the last couple of decades, there are few who handle these stories with more care and conscious context than Byron Pitts.

From the emotions in Miami during the Elian Gonzalez controversy, to the heartbreak of 9/11, to the chaos of the Haiti earthquake, and to racial tension and mass protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Pitts has been at the center not only reporting the news but giving voice to the voiceless and helping communities foster conversations about the issues and events that threaten to tear them apart.

As a 22-year-old in Greenville, North Carolina, Byron Pitts dreamed of being an on-air network correspondent. "When I woke up," he said, "I went to work building a skill set." This Master Class will help you get in touch with the guiding principles that lead you to do this work. Broadcast news is not the work of the anchor or reporter alone; it is the result of the (often unsung) work of a huge cast of people. It will teach you how to think of yourself not as a solo act but as part of jazz ensemble.

Byron will describe his categorization of story structures and how thinking about stories as one of four distinct types helps him tell the stories that are most important. He will also discuss the reporter's struggle to deal with the atrocities and death that are so often a part of news events. The journalist's job isn't to be desensitized to death but to provide context and comfort to communities afflicted by tragedy and injustice.

Reporting about race in America is one of the things Byron does best, and it is one of the skills he is most proud to teach at Poynter. In this Master Class, he will discuss how he approaches stories that have a racial element, and how he fosters conversations about race in communities through television. The piece below demonstrates this extraordinary skill:

**If you see a blank box instead of a video player, use this link: You should now see the player. If you are still having problems, the video is also available on the ABC News site.

This Master Class will comprise two sessions, 10:30 a.m.-noon and 1-2:30 p.m. If you're able to attend here at Poynter, we'll provide lunch at no extra charge. For everyone enrolled, unlimited access to the Master Class video is included. The replay will be available on NewsU shortly after the live broadcast.

What Will I Learn:
  • How to identify and trust your guiding principles in your career
  • How to accept coaching and deal with criticism
  • How to emphasize fairness in your reporting
  • How to manage up, manage down, and manage laterally to ensure your role as a team player respects and highlights the contributions of those around you
  • How to think of story structures as four main types of stories, as well as how this can help your storytelling.
  • How to talk about race in America in productive ways
  • How to foster conversations around issues that affect your community
  • How to provide context and comfort during devastating events
Who should take this course:
  • Broadcast and other news professionals looking to take their careers to the next level.

Byron Pitts

Broadcast journalist Byron A. Pitts' career has made him a fixture in television markets up and down the East Coast, garnered him national Emmy Awards, and made him an inspiration to budding journalists across the country. Before joining ABC News in his current role as chief national correspondent and anchor, Pitts worked as CBS News correspondent, chief national correspondent for CBS Evening News and a contributor to the newsmagazine 60 Minutes. In 2013, Pitts left CBS News and was named chief national correspondent and anchor for ABC News.


Kenny Irby (Host)

Kenny Irby is Senior Faculty/Visual Journalism and director of diversity at The Poynter Institute. He founded Poynter's photojournalism program in 1995, and he teaches and consults in areas of photojournalism, leadership, ethics and diversity.

Since joining the Institute in 1995, Irby has traveled to Nigeria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Jamaica, Singapore, South Africa and Russia preaching excellence in photojournalism.