Interview Series: Chris Purdy

I try and do something light once in a while to kind of get my soul in check a little bit and lift the mood. Also, people like news that is good and uplifting, because they need a break

For the latest installment of our interview series, we caught up with Chris Purdy, reporter for The Canadian Press. Chris won the gold medal for ‘Best Online Video: Feature’ at the 2017 Digital Publishing Awards for her piece Toddler With Paralysis. The story follows Evelyn Moore, a 13-month- old girl who is paralyzed below her arms as she zips around an indoor playground racetrack in a homemade wheelchair. We spoke with Chris about how she got the story and what made it such a special one to tell.

How did you come across Evelyn and her story?
A few TV stations in Edmonton had done a story about her. So, it had been out there locally. My boss had picked up on it and said: “you know this is really kind of great and we could do something really cool with this.” So I contacted the family and they were open to us doing the story, then we kind of went from there. I wanted to do something different than had been done before, I wanted to make it more visual. We thought the story was great on its own but knew that the visuals were really going to get people. Others had interviewed the family in their home, but I wanted to get her out to see what her life was like outside of the house.

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What was it like to have such a small child be the focus of a video?
She’s such a sweetheart. She was so easy to shoot! Seeing her triumph and to know what
she’d been through and what she can do now was just amazing. It was pretty easy to see that she was a happy kid. She just rolled around and I just had to follow her, and I had to get low because she’s so little. Getting low down to the ground was something kind of new to me, crawling around.

How was it different from the local coverage?
Two TV stations had the footage of Evelyn at the house just rolling around—and that’s amazing enough in itself. But I thought what can I do differently? Seeing her roll around the house, you could only have so many shots of her going around on the living room floor, and I did that as well at first. We did a pre-interview at the home but then we went to the play area together. I think just getting out of the house made the difference. I was surprised at the attention the story got!

What else were you working on?
Usually, often, I cover a lot of crime and court stories—a lot of tragedy basically. Today, I’m writing a story about a guy in Edmonton who was killed. He had a fatal peanut allergy and was working on a construction site where they were sandblasting with walnut shells and he died. Then sometimes I get to do these great stories, like Evelyn’s, and that’s maybe why I spent a lot of time on her story and why it was so great. It was so good to doing something like that for a change.

Is that what makes her story stand out?
I try to do something light once in a while to kind of get my soul in check a little bit and lift the mood. Also, people like news that is good and uplifting, because they need a break too. She’s just an amazing kid, so it just makes you feel good.

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What’s it like for you now being an award-winning videographer?
Isn’t that funny? I started as a newspaper reporter and worked in newspapers for a long time before I joined The Canadian Press. I really like shooting video, it’s fun. I have to give credit to all the great people who put it together because I don’t know how to do that.  Shetu Modi (the video producer) did a great job.

You can see Chris’s work at The Canadian Press website and follow her on Twitter at
@ChrisPurdyCP.

Interview conducted by Stephanie Philp, an intern with the National Media Awards Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @msphilp.

You may submit digital content in our Digital Publishing Awards program, created specifically for Canadian digital publishers, for the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards. Submissions are being accepted from January 2 to February 2, 2018.

 

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