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Student Spotlight

Student: Dan McKinney, a well-decorated newscaster, soon-to-be graduate of Conestoga High School, and production assistant to independent filmmaker TigreHill.


Dan McKinney, a well-decorated newscaster, soon-to-be graduate of Conestoga High School, and production assistant to independent filmmaker TigreHill.


McKinney, 18 of Wayne, cleaned up at the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic Chapter's National Student Television awards ceremony (the long, proper name for the student television Emmys) held at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School on May 2.

The Conestoga senior won four first-place trophies and picked up an honorable mention as well, scoring honors in five of the seven categories.

"He's quite a remarkable student," said Eileen Matthews, executive director of the NATAS Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

"He's just extremely creative, he's extremely talented. He pretty much did everything on his own; he's kind of like a one-man band," said Matthews. In addition to working at both Conestoga's TV station and student newspaper, McKinney volunteers for Radnor Studio 21, a public access station.

He added an internship this year, working as an assistant for Hill, the director of

Shame of a City

, about the 2003 Philadelphia mayoral race, on his next project,

The Barrel of a Gun

, about Mumia Abu-Jamal and the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. If all that wasn't enough, he scored an interview with Illinois Senator Barack Obama in April when the Democratic presidential candidate appeared at Great Valley High School.


How did you end up working for Hill?


It started out just as me doing research for his project. I found a posting on Craigslist that a film needed research work. As I got to know Tigre, and he saw my stuff and got familiar with my work, I started helping out with shooting, running a boom mike. I ended up helping shoot at certain rallies; I've been a production assistant at other interview events.


How was your experience working on Hill's next movie? What have you learned about documentary filmmaking?


I actually can't really comment on that, because Tigre doesn't want any of the details of the movie to come out beforehand.


How did you end up getting Obama one-on-one?


After the town-hall meeting we went up to the body guards and kind of just followed this Great Valley group. We were just standing around, and we just kindly asked his people, after explaining who we were and where we were from, if he had time for one question. They said yes. He came out, and their high school television people found out that we were going to get an exclusive, so they came out running. But I got to ask him a question, so it worked out.


What did you ask him? Did he give you a straight answer, or do you think it was mostly election-speak?


I asked him how much influence he thinks young people of America will have in the primaries and election. He gave a good answer, I can't remember word-for-word what he said, but he was nice enough to give us his time. I think it was definitely a legitimate answer.


Which story did you have the most fun reporting and putting together?



Midsummer Classic

, that was about a backyard wiffle ball tournament by some of our friends in Berwyn. This guy holds it every year around the 4th of July, he basically has a wiffle ball stadium in his backyard. I shot it for Radnor 21, then when we got back into school one of our shows at school showed it on the air.

It was exciting because after I uploaded the video on Youtube, some people uploaded it to their news sites. Not many times does something like this get covered, it's kind of like civic journalism.

To see Dan McKinney's work

for Radnor 21 and Conestoga, go to, and type "danmckinney" in the search box.

- Will Hobson