Digital Storytelling

Cynthiana, Ky. | Harrison County | Oct. 29 - Nov. 3

July 1registration opens

$750early bird registration | $850 after August 31

Sept. 28registration closes

Are you looking for a place where you can exercise your journalistic and creative muscle as well as work with a well-defined visual team of experts to create ground-breaking and exciting storytelling for a mass audience? 

We have the perfect advanced master workshop for you tucked neatly in the surrounding environment of the storied Mountain Workshops. For over four decades, the Mountain Workshops have been capturing the lives of Kentuckians in photography, print design, video storytelling, time-lapse, writing and data visualization. In what started as a class project to document one-room schoolhouses in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, the Mountain now hosts roughly 100 visual storytellers each year as they explore a different Kentucky community. The Digital Storytelling Workshop is a perfect opportunity to work on a team to produce a single, goal-oriented project while learning from industry leading storytellers and innovators in the historic context of the Workshops.

Click here to see last year's project, Telling Time.

Unlike our other workshop courses where participants, guided by a single coach, work as individuals; this workshop is built around collaborative cooperation. Each participant in the Digital Storytelling Workshop will play to their strengths but be intimately engaged with their team, multiple coaches and together, they will build a story on a selected topic.

Working with an average 1:6 coach to participant ratio, this interdisciplinary workshop will bring a team of storytellers together with a range of skills to focus on a single story — the team will code, visualize design, capture still and video content, animate, write, GIS, cartography, mapping and make use of time-lapse, 360 VR and/or drone work on a single topic. We will focus on using emerging storytelling tools and technology to tell our story. We will spend a week intensively covering, gathering, scraping, coding and building our story. The workshop’s award-winning production staff will provide guest teaching and offer a significant level of expertise alongside your assigned coach, who will guide you and your team to completion.

Why this workshop? This isn’t a few hours learning javascript or a day of speeches and panels: This is a group of talented people, telling a story on the edge of what can be done, adding a new and unique chapter to a 44-year story of Kentucky.

In short, we will work hard, edit hard, learn and in the end, produce a story that breaks new ground.

Once accepted to this workshop, you will have an opportunity to rate your skill level in various media acquisition and web development. Your coach will build the team(s) from that survey. Remember, it is a collaboration and everyone is an equal player in the game. It is encouraged that you bring your own laptop for your personal specific work. A “team” desktop Apple computer will be supplied for group work.

Spots for this workshop are competitive and seats are extremely limited. You will be informed of your acceptance into this workshop no later than August 15, 2018.

I think it’s a really significant thing that this really wonderful, innovative and long-running photography workshop wants to try to figure out how we do what we do with this other type of storytelling.

Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune | Digital Storytelling Workshop Coach


Each October, a group of visual journalists set up shop in a different community in Kentucky to document life and culture in a way that is rarely attempted. Raw and live, it’s all about the people and their stories, not the institutions. It’s called the Mountain Workshops, and dozens of students and professionals from around the country swoop in for a week every year to garner new skills and fresh inspiration.

It’s a crash course in visual journalism.

Participants can choose from one of five options for the week. Photojournalism, the original workshop at Mountain, has always been a big hit, but Video Storytelling is increasingly in demand. If you wish to increase your knowledge in other visual skills, the Mountain Workshops can deliver. Picture Editing pushes a traditional skill set of image selection and book design into the digital age, while Digital Storytelling takes us into a world of multiple forms of media and collaborative cooperation on a single topic.

A special workshop for K-12 educators is hosted by Dataseam, a Louisville-based nonprofit that provides resources for Kentucky educators. The K-12 Educators workshop is designed to help high school teachers looking to develop their students’ communication skills to tell their own stories.

Five workshops held in one location, in one week, with a constant flow of new ideas and one-on-one guidance by the top professionals in their fields, all add up to an intense five days of high-octane education in visual communication and storytelling.

A sneak peak behind the Mountain

Headquarters location and tentative schedule


Tuesday, October 13 (all times are CDT)

  • 7:30 AM Registration opens
  • 8:00 AM Vendor’s tables open
  • 9:00 AM Session #1. Introduction: Review scope and elements of project, goals for the week, workflow
  • 11:00 AM Lunch buffet opens (provided)
  • 12:30 PM Opening ceremony for all participants, hat draw
  • 1:30 PM Session #2. Content brainstorm, research
  • 6:00 PM Dinner on own
  • 6:30 PM Research continued
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Session #3. Set goals for Wednesday, confirm visual content goals, assign all field assignments
  • 11:00 PM Lab closes for night

Wednesday, October 14 (all times CDT)

  • 9:00 AM Session #4. Front-end sketches, user testing; back-end outline 
  • Noon Lunch on own
  • 1:00 PM Front-end and back-end teams separated
  • 6:00 PM Dinner on own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Session #5. Set goals for Thursday. Lab time
  • Midnight Lab closes

Thursday, October 15 (all times CDT)

  • 9:00 AM Session #6. Front-end wireframes and mock-ups, back-end punchlist
  • Noon Lunch on own
  • 1:00 PM Session #7. Second around user-testing, reporting review and edits
  • 6:00 PM Dinner on own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Session #8. Set goals for Friday
  • 1:00 AM Lab closes

Friday, October 16 (all times CDT)

  • 9:00 AM Session #8. Working beta, set up close-out punch list  
  • Noon Lunch on own
  • 1:00 PM Session #9. Second around user-testing, reporting should be wrapping up  
  • 5:00 PM Submit a poster, headline, nutgraf for web presentation
  • 6:00 PM Dinner on own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Session #10. Set goals for Saturday, Lab time  
  • 2:00 AM Lab closes

Saturday, October 17 (all times CDT)

  • 8:00 AM Building opens
  • 9:00 AM Session #11. Last-day testing, tweaks and video embeds complete
  • Noon Ceremonial close of content and group photo
  • 4:30 PM Final project due
  • 5:00 PM Team dinner
  • 6:00 PM MWS closing ceremonies and presentation viewing
  • 9:00 PM Vendor sponsored pizza party
  • Midnight Workshop closes


The nearest airports are Lexington (LEX),  Louisville (SDF), or Nashville (BNA). We have noticed drastically different rates depending on where you are coming from, so be sure to shop around for the best deals. You will need to have a vehicle for the workshop and there are car rental places at all of the airports.  If you are in the Picture Editing workshop you may be able to share a car rental with others in that workshop. Once you apply and are accepted to the Mountain, you will be invited to a private Facebook group where you can coordinate with others about the possibility of car and hotel room sharing. Keep in mind that the video, photo and digital storytelling workshops will require driving and it is best to have your own car during the week.


You are required to provide your own hotel and dinning arrangements.  Suggested housing options will be announced once we secure our community location.

What You Do

  • Collaborate with a diverse and skilled team to determine the best approach to tell a specific story
  • Research, document and produce storytelling that provides insights to a broader topic or story
  • Develop budding areas of interest in multi-platform storytelling while leveraging your existing expertise

What You Create

  • As a team, you create an online interactive project on a single topic
  • Moments of learning that rapidly propel your skills forward
  • A network of friends, colleagues and connections that will remain a part of your life throughout your career


Who Should Come

  • Journalists, both visual and the writing type, that includes web developers, data visualization creators, time-lapse storytellers, aerial specialists, 360/VR technique, GIS/mapping and cartography and designers from all journalistic walks of life
  • Working professionals that want a chance to "check-in" with the industry as well as engage in new opportunity
  • Those who have attended previous Mountain Workshops and want to return to absorb the inspiration the Mountain gives
  • Those in graduate programs or accomplished seniors in undergrad programs that have mastered their specific craft but now want to take the storytelling to a new level
  • Media specialists looking to apply what they know to an important and thrilling endeavor