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Kari Costanza: Crying in My Cubicle

September 14, 2012

Kari Costanza’s Tips for the Re-purposed Journalist:

  1. It’s not about you. (You’re not there to be the best writer or to win a Pulitzer)
  2. Don’t do it if you don’t truly like people (People in need will open up only if they know you care).
  3. Be prepared for a joy and a pain that you could never imagine when you were studying to become a journalist in school.
Repurposed journalist Kari Costanza on assignment in Marich Pass IPA, Kenya

Repurposed journalist Kari Costanza on assignment in Marich Pass IPA, Kenya. Photo by Jon Warren / World Vision

After graduating from the University of Washington, Kari held a job as news producer at KIRO 7 TV and at several stations on the East Coast. As a producer, Costanza says, “I shaped and wrote much of the newscast. I worked with anchors, reporters, photographers and production staff to condense the news of the day into a 30 minute broadcast.”

Costanza met that daily deadline for 10 years. Then one day she remembers a KIRO 7 TV colleague walking by her newsroom desk and whispering, “You’re not happy. You need to make a change.”  The words haunted her because they rang true.

It was spring, 1995.

Then her mother cut out a news article in her hometown paper, the  Tacoma News Tribune, about how a Christian non-profit called World Vision was moving from Southern California to Federal Way. Her mother urged her to apply for a job. Kari interviewed in May. In June she was hired.

She has never looked back.

In the first five years after joining the World Vision video department, Kari produced 300 videos. She became Managing Editor of World Vision Magazine in 2000. In 2010, World Vision International asked her to be Global Editor. Today, Kari Costanza is Editor of Special Projects and Content Curation. In 17 years with World Vision, Kari Costanza has been to 40 countries.

Kari Costanza in Kenya with Ekomol

Kari Costanza in Kenya, with Ekomol. Photo by Jon Warren / World Vision.

“The hardest part is when you care about people and they die, ” says Costanza. “We did this story in Rwanda in August. We’d heard that 10 people had died in a refugee camp.”  As always, Costanza wanted to personalize the story. At a hospital near the camp, she met a woman named Solange who had lost a daughter since moving to the camp from the Congo. She and NPPA Photographer of the Year Lisa Berglund produced a video of Solange and her baby, Esther when they came back from Africa. “But then, after we left, we found out that Esther died. We mourned. I just went into my cubicle and cried,” says Costanza.

“That doesn’t happen in TV news.”

On Thursday, September 20th, at 1 p.m. (Pacific), Kari will join World Vision award-winning photographer Jon Warren for a presentation at Seattle Center as part of the Center’s “The Next Fifty” Celebration called “Approaching The Story.”

For the Solange story:

For the One to the World Digital Classroom:

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