Imagine Ball State alumnus Danny Gawlowski’s life as a multimedia production. A montage of his awards segues into fast-action clips as he ping-pongs through stints at the nation’s top newspapers, where he produces high-energy video stories. Fast-paced audio from the police chase where he won his Pulitzer comes up loud, then fades out. The camera focuses in tight on the lean, thoughtful man with the bushy mustache as he relays stories and optimistic observations about the ever-changing industry to the country’s best multimedia storytellers.
Gawlowski, originally from Pinckney, Michigan, graduated from Ball State with a double major in journalism and anthropology in 2004 before studying documentary filmmaking at the Seattle Film Institute. He’s worked at newspapers in New Hampshire, Indiana, Texas, and Washington. At The Seattle Times, he and a team of journalists received the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2010 for their coverage of the shooting deaths of four police officers and the 40-hour hunt for the suspect. The award marked the first time that online reporting was specifically mentioned in a Pulitzer citation.
Ever on that cutting edge of visual storytelling, Gawlowski returned to his alma mater in June 2011 as a faculty member of the prestigious Kalish storytelling workshop for top-tier journalism professionals. Ball State hosts the annual Kalish, which draws applications from editors, producers, and photojournalists from all over the world.
“Having Kalish here is a real jewel for Ball State,” Gawlowski says. “The participants it draws in are of the top caliber. The faculty members are all award-winning professionals such as Emmy winners.”
Journalism students, who were invited to sit in on the four days of workshops, gained valuable insight as they listened to Kalish attendees discuss ethical storytelling, diversity, and using community resources to present engaging stories to a marketplace that increasingly demands more visual and web-driven content from its news sources.
Since moving from Marquette University to Ball State in 2004, Kalish has evolved to address those marketplace needs. The workshops formerly focused only on print journalism but now delve deep into multimedia storytelling techniques taught by the likes of Gawlowski, video editor at The Seattle Times.
“Ball State’s facilities were perfect,” he says. “It really does fit the needs of a high-end visual editing workshop.”
Kalish attendees used the high-end computer labs in the Department of Journalism to share their work and to aid in their discussions of editing techniques.
Sue Morrow, director of Kalish, appreciates sharing concerns and frustrations with others who have similar experiences during the annual event. “Kalish gave me some affirmation on what I wanted to do,” she says.
Ball State journalism instructor Ryan Sparrow’s background is in photojournalism, so, like Morrow, he enjoys connecting with others in the industry at Kalish. The relationship between Ball State and the Kalish program is mutually beneficial, he says.
“The benefit to Ball State is just having this incredible pool of talent that comes here every summer,” Sparrow says. “A huge number of Pulitzer Prize winners come, along with some of the biggest names in the photojournalism industry. If they don’t come, they’re well aware of what Kalish is, so having Ball State’s name associated with it is incredible.”
Spending part of his summer back on the Ball State campus caused Gawlowski to reflect on how his years as a student propelled him into the career at which he excels today.
“We learned about convergence at Ball State,” he says. “We were talking about it, but now we’re living it every day.”