Video Wears Woster Out; Veteran Journalist Taking Break for Family and Fishing

Kevin Woster is retiring from KELO-TV. The long-time newspaper man went video three years ago. Woster loves telling stories, but he says TV journalism is no country for old men:

Woster's undisclosed location? Nope—just Kevin working on a story at Persistence Cave, Wind Cave National Park—photo from Facebook, 2015.06.11.

Woster’s undisclosed location? Nope—just Kevin working on a story at Persistence Cave, Wind Cave National Park—photo from Facebook, 2015.06.11.

I just can’t handle the pace. I’m tired. Some days exhausted. And I don’t recover at almost 65 like I did 10 or even five years ago.

It’s not like being a newspaper reporter, where — especially these days of limited staff and almost-non-existent travel budgets — most of your work is done in the office, on the phone, and a story can be turned in a hurry.

You’re expected to know more and tell more in the newspaper game. You work sources more, dig deeper, explain things to greater detail.

But you don’t have to chase around getting people on camera for interviews, collecting valid, entertaining b roll and doing all the equipment fiddling it takes to put it all together in a logical, hopefully compelling way and send off to Sioux Falls.

As a newspaper reporter, I can make one call to Allen or Winner or Custer or Timber Lake and another to Pierre or D.C. and have a pretty good story. As a TV reporter, I have to go there, then convince people to go on camera — which is harder than facing a notebook or a phone receiver.

As my assignment editor Dexter likes to say: “Without pictures, we’re just high-priced radio” [Kevin Woster, Facebook post, 2016.08.25].

Wow—I don’t even like taking the time to upload trimmed video to Facebook and punch in the date and location. One out of four times, I still hit “Power” instead of “Record” on my camera. Woster makes clear that quality TV is much harder than it looks.

Woster says he plans to take a break for family and fishing time, then take up writing part-time. While I await Kevin’s call to ask to be a weekly guest columnist (much worse pay, Kevin, but better hours and easier editorial policy!), I offer your after-dinner questions:

  1. Who are the future Kevin Wosters?
  2. What reporters today are as deeply entwined in South Dakota culture as Woster?
  3. Can contemporary corporate media foster such journalists?

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  1. There is no parallel. I’m going to miss Kevin’s insight, thoughtfulness, and fairness.

  2. Kevin’s old Mount Rushmore blog in the Rapid City Journal was a great place to hangout and discuss and debate. When he left the Journal I asked him where an old liberal like me could go to express himself, he suggested Madville Times and I have been here ever since.
    Kevin is class act and I suspect the newspaper business will never be taken out of him.

  3. It’s probably Mercer. Denise Ross had lots of potential but seems to have run out of gas.

  4. South Dakota has had some great journalists in the last 40 years, and Kevin is right at the top of the list if you had to choose your Most Valuable Journalist. Certainly for longevity, depth of knowledge about all sorts of issues, and genuine fairness, Kevin has to be king of the South Dakota beat.

  5. Journalism in SD and elsewhere is becoming much too fast a corporate ‘bandwagon’ advancing maily corporate interests. Without media like the Dakota Free Press we commoners without corporate interest are not invested. Power loves secrecy to work its will and knowledge of “what is going on” is hidden behind political doors and executive sessions!

  6. Perhaps Seth Tupper will keep on stepping up to the place and hitting it out of the park.

  7. bear-i’m a little leary of tupper’s bosses as mentioned previously. the very recent BLACK ELK PEAK coverage goaded daugaard to appeal the federal board action somehow, not in editorials, but in frequency, placement and self-creation of tupper/bosses own headlines…that the federal decision should be ignored, riling up supporters, fostering continuation of racism, and other legitimate issues. thx, seth….

    or, perhaps seth learned from woster?;)

  8. Denise Ross was so partisan she was oozing hate. Chet Brokaw was a fair and balanced actual reporter. She quit reporting and turned into a blogger a long time ago. Kind of like what I’m told young Ms. Kenecke is trying to do.

  9. Is there a history or an analysis written about journalism in South Dakota? I started seriously reading the paper and watching the news in the mid-1960s. My early years were spent in Sioux Falls. It seems to me things were pretty bad back then. The Argus was under FC Christopherson. I remember things improving a bit at the Argus under Anson Yeager (spelling?). I took off for school and work in Wisconsin, and when I came back in 1980 things had really improved. Did the Oahe Irrigation Project and all that controversy make a difference in journalism, as it did in so much else? I do know that KELO tried to censor stories on Oahe during that time, and there was some backlash about that.