What sets TV news apart from print and radio?
Video, of course. And at KX News, we’ve been spoiled for 30 years with great video courtesy of photojournalist Gaylen Ness.
But today, we have to say goodbye to Gaylen — he’s hanging it up after a very successful career.
“This is the most exciting job anybody could ever ask for or wish for,” Ness says, “and I was lucky enough to get it.”
And we’ve been lucky enough to bear witness to his handiwork since 1990 — a different era for TV news.
“Everything had to be shot by 3 o’clock in the afternoon because that’s when it went to process,” he recalls. “It could be shot after that time, but it wouldn’t be developed until the next day at 3:00 PM.”
Now things are a little more convenient. But some things never change. Here’s Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma, who worked alongside Gaylen at KX for 13 years.
“He’d take that little dust rag out of his pocket, and wipe the lens,” says Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma, who worked alongside Gaylen for 13 years. “Then he’d take the white card out of his pocket and white balance. And there was one — I won’t say who it is — one guy who would always, immediately after Gaylen got that done… lick his finger and wipe the lens! Just to mess with him.”
“No day is typical with this job. And that’s the best part about it,” Ness says.
We’ve seen northwest North Dakota through his eyes: the farms. The fires. The flights. The freezes. And of course… “The flood of 2011 was quite an experience,” he says.
“Having to get up and come into work knowing that my house was underwater — that wasn’t easy to do.” But he did it — and produced some of his best work in the process.
“I looked down and the water had moved up closer to my feet. So I moved the tripod, I’m doing some more shooting, I look down, and the water was back at my feet again.”
The quality of Gaylen’s work speaks for itself — but his warm personality and his deep roots in Minot are irreplaceable.
“Growing up, he’s always been a kind of superstar for Minot,” says Minot resident Staci Kenney.
Jim Vitko of Minot says Gaylen was “always interested in the other person.”
“You’re gonna be framed up well,” Sipma says. “The sound is gonna be good. The light is gonna be good.”
“He just is that embodiment of a great citizen, in my mind,” says Caisee Sandusky, the School Resource Officer for Magic City Campus. “Somebody you can always feel comfortable around, and have a good conversation with.”
It’s that combination of friendliness and photographic prowess that makes it hard for us to say goodbye.
“I’ve always considered myself an artist,” Ness says. “The television is my canvas and my camera is my paintbrush. And sometimes there were masterpieces, and sometimes they were not that great. But hopefully I had more masterpieces than anything else.”
Gaylen’s list of accolades should settle that debate: he earned 91 television awards in his time as a photojournalist. That’s why he’s Someone You Should Know — and someone who will be dearly missed by everyone at KX.
—Tim Olson, KX News