Andrew Fowler awarded for his broadcast journalism | Local News
St. Louis’ Andrew Fowler won Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism’s top graduate award, the 2016 Harrington Prize, in the videography/broadcast category.
Named for the late Harry Franklin Harrington, who was Medill’s first director, the awards are given to outstanding graduate students “on the basis of journalistic promise and high academic achievement.”
The industry had already come to terms with his former professors about Fowler’s “journalistic promise” when he learned of the award as a professional working in New York. He is a video producer for Insider, an online lifestyle journalism venue in the Business Insider family of brands.
“It’s my job to find human interest stories, people who will somehow go viral,” Fowler said. “In a typical day, I research stories, anything with a human interest angle, contact people, and find a way to get their footage or film if needed.”
Unusual for a first full-time position, he is a lonely man for his stories.
“I have a few editors that I report to,” Fowler said. “They approve a project before I go too far, and review it when it’s finished and make suggestions, but a lot of things are going through my head.”
The place to see his current work is the Insider People page on Facebook.
For someone with a graduate degree from a prestigious journalism school and a job at Business Insider, Fowler was surprised to find that his high school and college internships with The St. Louis American, a community weekly in his hometown, prepared him well.
“The parallels are obvious,” Fowler said. “I learned my basic reporting skills doing human interest stories at The American, which is basically what I only focus on now. Knowing what questions to ask in an interview to reveal how people feel is something I learned at The St. Louis American before I went to journalism school.
Although Fowler did extensive business reporting in graduate school, as well as a major train derailment investigation, his signature project was a human interest feature film, a short documentary produced and directed with his fellow students from Medill Yining Zhou and Avinash Chak.
Filmed entirely in Chicago, “My Muthaland” follows the journey of actress Minita Gandhi. In early 2015, Minita decided to write her first-ever play, a solo show about her family, her culture, and being stuck between two worlds as a second-generation Indian-American woman. Because she was sexually assaulted during a family visit to India and talks about it on camera, it becomes a documentary about the importance of talking about sexual violence.
“It was a passion project,” Fowler said. “At the first screening, it was cool to see the reaction. Some people even cried. I had never worked on something that got such an emotional reaction.
Fowler has been corrected on this point. In fact, he wrote a story for The St. Louis American that brought some readers to tears. When an 18-year-old college student on winter break after his first semester as a freshman, Fowler spent the day after Christmas 2009 with exonerated Darryl Burton and his grown daughter, Tynesha Lee. Burton had been released from prison after serving 24 years for a murder he did not commit.
Fowler was there when Burton had the first chance to give his 26-year-old daughter a Barbie doll for Christmas. Her story about their bond was so powerful that it won a national journalism award. The National Newspaper Association, a trade group of community newspapers, awarded it as the best feature story for all major weeklies nationwide published in 2009.
Fowler remembered that.
“It was the first time,” he said. “I was shocked that anything I was able to do – my story was heavily edited – affected readers and audiences, and that’s something I understood. And I do emotional stories now. It’s something I would like to continue doing. »
Follow this reporter on Twitter @chriskingstl.