Grand Jury Perspective: Amy Katz

NYF’s Grand Jury Perspective offers an intimate glimpse into the thought process and creative insights of the award-winning industry superstars who serve on the TV & Film Awards Grand Jury.

Amy Katz, Senior TV Executive Producer for Voice of America

This week, New York Festivals TV & Film Grand Jury Perspective shares the industry observations of Grand Jury member Amy Katz, Senior TV Executive Producer for Voice of America. With a career spanning more than 25 years, Ms, Katz brings years of broadcast experience to the judges table. She launched her career at ABC News and worked as a producer for 16 years, followed by stints at Fox News and Discovery Communications.  In 2006, Ms. Katz brought her production skills to Voice of America, hired as an Executive Producer, she was promoted in 2010 to Senior Executive Producer.

New York Festivals: Talk about what qualities makes great content?

Amy Katz: It’s all about visual story telling for me. Great video does half the work for a writer. Compelling images and carefully chosen words that take the pictures into account – especially clever references that make the video more relevant, are what makes content great for me. Years ago, we sent a reporter to Greece to do stories on the failing economy. He went to a bakery where some of his best footage was of a gigantic mixer. In his script he was talking about the elements contributing to the economic decline. To make the video of the mixer work, he said something like, “adding into the mix…” And it just worked. The BBC is brilliant at this. I often wonder whether such writing to images is part of their training.


New York Festivals: What was your mantra for career success? Was your path to success linear or a winding road…how so?

Amy Katz: My path to success has been pretty linear. I spent the first half of my career at ABC News, starting at the bottom and working my way up, one promotion at a time. I think my mantra is to keep working hard. Honestly, just that simple.

New York Festivals: What are some of the tools you use to keep your audience?

Amy Katz: Working at an organization that broadcasts in 47 languages, that’s impossible to answer easily. But, keeping up with technology is a big deal. For example, many viewers in Africa don’t have computers or TVs but they have smart phones, so content for them needs to be geared that way. Also, as a general rule, try to tell stories in new and engaging ways, but mostly through real people. They’re always better than statistics.

New York Festivals: Share your thoughts on freedom of the press?

Amy Katz: Freedom of the Press is paramount. We’re living in tough times on this one, but we must always fight for it.

New York Festivals: How important is building a social experience around a program?

Amy Katz: This is not my area of expertise, but I do know that good social engagement drives viewership and is crucial to success.

New York Festivals: What projects are on the horizon for you?

Amy Katz: We are working on a women’s initiative – both covering more issues of interest to and about women and also a drive to include more women experts in our coverage.

New York Festivals: If you could select any iconic creative to collaborate with on a project who would it be and why?

Amy Katz: Gosh, I don’t really know. Spielberg maybe.

New York Festivals: How has video streaming changed your creative approach?

Amy Katz: No. It adds to and supplements what we can provide to our audiences.

New York Festivals: Talk about how story structure has changed with the spread of mobile?

Amy Katz: We usually create different content for mobile. What works on a TV program is often not appropriate for mobile and also many people don’t listen to audio while viewing video on their phones. So, we are doing shorter pieces with captions for mobile/social.

New York Festivals: How will storytelling continue to evolve to keep pace with the omni-platform environment?

Amy Katz: Each platform requires a slightly different type of writing. Today’s multi-media journalists need to know how to do it all.

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