School of Media News
School of Media to present 'When Disaster Strikes' exhibit, panel discussion
- School of Media
- Friday, March 25th, 2022
When Disaster Strikes
Reporting community stories during the December tornadoes
Thursday, March 31, 2022
- 5:30 p.m. Photo Exhibit, Jody Richards Hall Gallery
- 6:30 p.m. Panel Discussion, Jody Richards Hall Auditorium
Everybody has a story to tell from the December tornadoes that struck western Kentucky. Area journalists began telling those stories before the tornadoes even touched down, and continue to bring to light the struggles people face while rebuilding from the storms.
Western Kentucky University’s School of Media, as part of The John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series, offers an evening looking back at the stories surrounding the December tornadoes and what was involved in sharing those stories with the journalists' communities.
The series includes a 5:30 p.m. opening for A Community United: Through Trauma and Grief, Resilience Emerges, an exhibit of 59 photographs documenting the impact of the tornadoes, taken by photographers throughout the region.
At 6:30 p.m., a panel of four journalists will discuss their experiences telling their communities' stories as the events unfolded. The panelists include meteorologist Trent Okerson of Paducah’s WPSD-TV, photojournalist Grace Ramey at the Bowling Green Daily News, and Rick Rojas, a national correspondent for The New York Times. WKU Public Radio host Alana Watson will moderate the discussion.
Grace Ramey, a photojournalist for the Bowling Green Daily News, recalled she had “never been so scared in my life” as the storm struck her neighborhood in Bowling Green. Ramey immediately went out into the darkness as emergency workers showed up searching for survivors in the rubble left behind. Ramey continues to tell the story of recovery for the Daily News as her community tries to rebuild. https://www.bgdailynews.com/news/slide-show-tornado-slams-bowling-green-area-during-catastrophic-outbreak-in-state/collection_74df2931-2425-5fff-ab18-9774c82b5aab.html
Paducah’s WPSD-NBC Chief Meteorologist Trent Okerson had been tracking the weather system days before it formed into the historic storm. That day he broadcast live as the storm made its way across the region, hitting his surrounding communities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kfoxBDLA7Q
Poynter Institute profiled Okerson and his team’s effort to save lives: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2021/meet-the-local-news-meteorologist-whose-forecast-saved-lives-in-kentucky/
Rick Rojas, a journalist and Nashville bureau chief for The New York Times, covers news throughout the south. Rojas began reporting from Mayfield the morning after the storm, helping to inform the national audience on the destruction left in its wake. Rojas continues to write for a national audience on our communities as they rebuild. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/17/insider/kentucky-tornado-reporting.html; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/us/tornadoes-kentucky.html
Alana Watson, Bowling Green’s local host for “All Things Considered” on WKU Public Radio, will act as the moderator for the evening as they discuss the events surrounding the tornado and the role of community journalist in telling the difficult stories in the community. https://www.wkyufm.org/people/alana-watson
If you need more information about the lecture series or want to connect with one of the panelists, contact organizer Jonathan Adams at email@example.com or (307) 733-6089.
The photo exhibit, A Community United: Through Trauma and Grief, Resilience Emerges, will be on display March 28-April 22 Jody Richards Hall Gallery. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. For information about the photo exhibit, contact Tim Broekema at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series: The John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series, launched in 2004 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Gaines’ family-owned newspaper, the Daily News, has brought several award-winning international journalists to WKU. Previous lecture participants include the Indianapolis Star Pulitzer Prize-winning team that uncovered the USA Gymnastics sex abuse cases; The Cincinnati Enquirer Pulitzer Prize-winning team that documented the addiction crisis; journalism icon John Seigenthaler and his son, former NBC network news anchor John Seigenthaler Jr.; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts of The Miami Herald; and Chicago Tribune photojournalist and official White House photographer Pete Souza.