Sally Stapleton

T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Spring 2016

Pollner Professor Sally StapletonABOUT: Sally Stapleton has worked at a number of newspapers, including the Tampa TribuneMinneapolis Star TribuneMiami Herald and Boston Globe, before joining the Associated Press. During her 14-year career with AP as a deputy executive photo editor, she was responsible for leading the teams of photographers that covered Princess Diana's funeral, the September 11 attacks, the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Coverage of the latter two events won Pulitzer Prizes in photography. Prior to her Pollner professorship, Sally was managing editor for online content and photography at The Day, a public-trust news organization in New London, Conn.

To learn more about Sally, visit her website.


Officially, I taught a 400-level multimedia storytelling course, and my visual journalism students heard the usual Sallyisms:

  • “My mother could have shot that picture." 
  • "Storytelling is about the value of the moment."
  • "If it’s been done before, just do it better or find the story within the story.”

Unofficially, identifying one’s passions and learning to trust the scrolling ticker tape in one’s mind are what we discussed for 15 weeks.

I was co-advisor to the Kaimin during the spring semester when the word came early on that finances were dangerously low. I feared the response from the packed room of journalists at their weekly meeting. But unlike similar scenes I had experienced with discomfort in U.S newsrooms, the Kaimin journalists listened without snide remarks and decided their response should be to produce the finest print and online product they could. I was inspired by their maturity, determination and visceral understanding about a journalist’s role. And with this attitude, they succeeded as the bottom line swelled.

The symbolism of that moment – 50 promising journalists and the future of journalism –

was evident. Not lost on me that Tuesday evening in February was a well-placed photo in the newsroom of Anthony Pollner, for whom this teaching experience is named. His Kaimin successors had worked as a team and prevailed, as did my multimedia storytelling class of 15. Isn’t that why all journalists view ours as one of the singularly great ways to spend a life?

On the final day of class, I knew that those I taught had given more to me than I had to them. I knew I had to follow my Day 1 advice or I’d be a hypocrite, all talk. 

Next for me will be taking a risk because good journalism matters.