New York Times media chief to discuss journalism at college

MIDDLEBURY — Sarah Kramer, the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning journalist behind The New York Times series “1 in 8 million” and “Coming Out,” will return to her alma mater, Middlebury College, this Thursday to share insights and experiences gleaned from her 15 years as a multimedia journalist.
Her talk, “Personal Narrative in the Digital Age,” will be the first in this year’s Meet the Press lecture series, and begin at 4:30 p.m. in Bicentennial Hall 220 on the Middlebury campus.
Currently the multimedia producer for The Times, Kramer’s work has been informed by many mediums. She has a background in photo archiving, documentary film, radio production (she was the second person hired for StoryCorps, a Peabody-winning oral history project) and print journalism.
“These are all different ways to put people’s voices out,” Kramer said in an interview last week. “There is an ongoing need for personal storytelling.”
Digital and multimedia journalism combine Kramer’s passion for visual mediums, which she explored as an art history major at Middlebury, with nonfiction-based storytelling.
“You need the balance of journalism,” she said, “to check something and make it substantial.”
Media outlets across the country, including historically print-based companies like The New York Times, have jumped on the use of multimedia on the web in recent years. With the Internet as a platform, video, audio and photojournalism are easily accessible to readers and easily uploaded and published along with print pieces.
Some of Kramer’s wildly successful projects started with a basic storytelling premise (the native New Yorker pitched the “1 in 8 Million” series, which profiles individual New Yorkers from a variety of backgrounds, with a number of people already in mind, people she passed each day and found compelling) but used multiple mediums to get the story across.
Digital advances have certainly changed the face of storytelling in the 15 years that Kramer has been working.
“I got my first email account my senior year of college,” Kramer recalled with a laugh. “And it was this weird, new thing.”
She has returned to Vermont regularly in the years since graduating in February of 1997. The family of a close college friend runs the Morningside Inn in the town of Addison. She has fond memories of her college days, including swimming in Silver Lake and learning how to drive a stick-shift car; these memories are described with a level of detail that befits a person whose living is made compiling personal narratives.
She described living in the (now-defunct) A-frame buildings on campus her senior year. She had a ritual of walking up from Otter Creek Bakery to an evening art history seminar, a pastry and cup of hot cider in hand.
“There’s a certain smell,” she explained. “In the fall, when the leaves have changed. Even now I sometimes smell it, and it’s Middlebury.”
When she returns to her alma mater this Thursday, the storied journalist is looking forward to her pastry and cider.
“I’m so excited,” she said with a laugh. “It’s the first thing I’m going to do.”
The Meet the Press series was established in 2003 by author Sue Halpern, a Middlebury scholar-in-residence in English and American Literatures, and has brought dozens of renowned editors, reporters, critics and producers to Addison County since its inception. Notable past lectures included “The Power of Something True” by NPR’s Jay Allison, and “Civil Liberties in an Age of State Sponsored Torture” by the New Yorker’s Jane Meyer, among many others. 

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