Top 30 Under 30 with Sandy Hooper

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Sandy Hooper felt like something was missing.

She achieved her childhood dream of being a photographer, but something wasn’t quite right.

“The voice of the subject was missing,” she explains. That epiphany lead her back to school where she studied video and broadcast.

“I love video; you get to hear and see the person speaking, and hear the story through them,” she says.

Now at 28, she is a producer and editor at USA TODAY, focusing on sports video.  She primarily works on features and enterprises. She starts her day hearing pitches and stories and deciding where video would best be a part of the content.

Dino Markus, former Director of Video at USA TODAY Sports Media Group, submitted her for News Media Alliance’s Top 30 Under 30. He wrote that she was originally hired to be a shooter, but exhibited talents from ideation to production to create truly compelling content.

She was hired full time to spearhead the sports video vertical.

“I wasn’t a sports junkie,” she says. “But you don’t need to be a sports junkie, knowing all the stats. At the heart, it’s about storytelling.”

Her advice on thinking about incorporating video is to get your art team involved as soon as possible, even bringing a videographer along for interviews.

“The earlier reporters and editors loop [photographers] in, the more ideas they’ll have for content,” she says. “Almost anything can be told visually.”

She brings her fresh perspective to the team as they tackle projects like Kobe Bryant’s retirement, as a 6-part series, from when he came out of high school to a final sit down with the legend.

“They’re things you don’t hear about. We got to do stories like that,” she says. “They’re amazing pieces that I’m really proud of.”

As one of News Media Alliance’s Top 30 Under 30, she considers her age to be an asset.

“I’m my field, specifically in video, it’s an advantage,” she says. “It’s a changing medium; a lot of places like newspapers are trying to figure out where they fit in this digital age. [Young journalists] have fingers on the pulse of what is new in technology.”

She is excited for the digital revolution that is happening and how it is shaping journalism. There are new and emerging ways to connect and interact with the audience.

“We’re doing things to make sure we’re staying on trends, but making sure we’re not sacrificing quality,” she says. “We tell quality stories and add a bit of social edge.”

News Media Alliance announced the winners of its first “Top 30 Under 30” Awards program at mediaXchange 2016 in April, which honors young leaders working in every aspect of the news media who are contributing to the future success of the industry. Over the next several weeks we will feature profiles on the winners, highlighting their work and ideas, and how they’re helping the industry grow and evolve.


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