Electronic Media Specialist, Office of University Advancement
Hometown: Navy brat
Fun Fact: Commutes to and from work via bus and bike
Have you ever wondered about the history of telecommunications in the remote bush communities of Alaska? Or how recent senior UAA nursing students helped Anchorage’s Bhutanese refugee community make it through their first northern winter? Of course you can find those stories right here in the Seawolf Weekly on our podcast and video pages, but who captures those colorful multimedia stories and why?
For two and a half years, Kathleen McCoy has been recording, taping and blogging for the Office of University Advancement as an electronic media specialist, with the sole goal of telling UAA’s stories.
“I’ve always thought of the university as a place where there are a lot of stories to tell,” says Kathleen. “Education is a good mission to push, and there are many people at UAA with excellent achievements. These are people who are very passionate about what they do, and that always makes a good story.”
Kathleen came to Alaska in 1981, shortly after college (UC Berkeley with degrees in journalism and rhetoric) and on the heels of a cross-country European bike tour and French language immersion.
“That Europe trip was a wonderful experience, and I thought Alaska would be a continuation of that,” she says. “It has always been easy for me to explore new places.” Coming from a transient military family and having a brother who had recently made the move to the Land of the Midnight Sun, Kathleen was soon on her way north with her sights set on the Anchorage Daily News.
The first job she landed was reporting for The Nome Nugget, and when she landed her dream job in Anchorage in 1982, newspapers were in their heyday. She began as an entertainment writer, was soon a writer and editor for the Sunday magazine, and eventually became senior editor for all the feature sections of the paper—which numbered 14 at the time.
Kathleen embraced traditional newspaper journalism for 26 years before she found herself “chafing at the bit” and applying for a mid-career fellowship through the Knight Foundation for a year of retreat and rejuvenation at Stanford University. With a commitment to return to the Daily News after the yearlong sabbatical, she turned her attention to exploring some emerging curiosities.
“My interest was new media, and creativity has always been intriguing to me,” she says. “Also the study of power: what kinds of power work, what brings out the best in people, and so forth. So that is what I went to Stanford to focus on.”
Back at her job 12 months later, she started incorporating video into her reporting, learned how to use the Web as a news tool, and launched about 25 community blogs to renew the paper’s local voice. She also felt a change in the air as the might of newspapers was starting to be challenged. She witnessed several rounds of layoffs as many of her fellow feature reporters were let go, and she saw the nature of journalism changing and the beginnings of an industry in decline. After a full year of being back, she decided to move on, and that decision led her to UAA.
“I’ve discovered that making feature videos and blogging are just more ways to tell stories,” she says. “It definitely took some time for the newspaper format to get out of my blood, but what keeps me here at UAA and keeps me interested is that the horizon is so far out. There is so much potential—so many stories needing to be told.”