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Digital Storytelling | Oct. 23-27

Data Visualization coach Jonathon Berlin, of the Chicago Tribune, gathers his team around him on the opening day of the 2017 Mountain in Morehead, Ky. The 2018 edition of the Mountain Workshops is delighted to host its first master series in team collaboration storytelling. | Nina Greipel

5 Days



Early Bird Registration | $800 after Aug. 31, 2018

Jul 1

Registration Opens

MT. STERLING, KENTUCKY   |   OCTOBER 23-27   |  2018


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.

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 43-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 Storytellin Lab 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 Dataseam Teacher Track 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





Gateway Regional Arts Center
101 East Main Street, Mt. Sterling, Ky. 40353
Please park in lots #1, #2 or #3 located on South Wilson St., just one block south of the Arts Center.


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23   |   all times are EDT


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 - 12:30 PM   |   Provided lunch

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 Wednedsday, confirm visual content goals, assign all field assignments

Midnight   |   Lab closes for night


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24   |   all times EDT


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

1:00 AM   |   Lab closes


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25   |   all times EDT


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   

2:00 AM   |   Lab closes


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26   |   all times EDT


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  

3:00 AM   |   Lab closes


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27   |   all times EDT


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

6:30 PM   |   MWS closing ceremonies and presentation viewing

9:00 PM   |   Vendor sponsored pizza party

Midnight   |   Workshop closes





The nearest airports are Lexington (LEX), 45 miles; Cincinnati (CVG), 117 miles; Louisville (SDF), 107 miles or Huntington, WV (HTS), 107 miles. We have found 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. Our headquarters for the Mountain is about 2 miles from the nearest hotel. 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 arrangments. We suggest that you book your room when you know that you are accepted as there are a limited amount of hotels in this rural area of Kentucky. Be sure to book your hotel in Mt. Sterling, most hotels are located at the Maysville Rd. exit off of I-64.



"If I skipped Mountain Workshops, I’d get more sleep. I might look younger…and feel older. Without it, I’d have less energy to pour into personal projects, less sense of belonging to a global tribe of storytellers. Less places to be a kid, less opportunities to fail. And less people still teaching me, even though I graduated years ago, how to be a better student and kinder human being. Going to Mountain is kinda like going home to see family — I don’t do it often enough, and whenever I do, I wish I could stay longer."

Adam Lau, M.A. Candidate/UNC, 2016 Paducah Participant




Code of Conduct


The Mountain Workshops does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender, national origin, religion, disability, protected veteran status, political affiliation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, in any of its activities or operations. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, faculty, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, members of the host community and participants.

Western Kentucky University and the Mountain Workshops complies with Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all programs and activities (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) in the University’s educational programs and activities.

Title IX states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title IX also prohibits retaliation for asserting or otherwise participating in claims of sex discrimination.

Discrimination, sexual harassment and misuse of power or position will not be tolerated at the Mountain Workshops. We remain committed to providing a quality educational experience in a safe and professional environment.

If you have experienced an incident of gender-based or sexual harassment, domestic or interpersonal violence, sexual assault, abuse of power or any sexual misconduct while attending the Mountain Workshops, we ask that you promptly report the incident to the director of the Mountain Workshops either verbally or by email at director.mountainworkshops@wku.edu.

You can also file a report of the incident here. If you file the report anonymously, the case is not subject to the Title IX process, but the director may conduct an investigation to remedy the situation. The complaint will be treated in a confidential manner and any concerns raised will be immediately addressed. The safety of all our participants, coaches, staff, vendors and our host community is of the utmost priority.




Seats fill quickly. Your participation is only secure after payment is received in full. Acceptance does not guarantee a seat. It is best to make your payment as quickly as possible once you have been notified of your acceptance. If a workshop sells out before you pay, we will start a waiting list and contact you based upon the order of your initial registration date if any openings occur. You will have 24 hours to pay once we contact you via your registration email to secure a wait-listed seat. After that we will contact the next applicant on the list.


Cancellation and Refunds


  • If notified by August 31, full refund minus $100
  • If notified by October 1, full refund minus $200
  • We cannot offer any refund if notified after 12:01 a.m., October 2


We understand that life happens and there are reasons that you may have to cancel your participation after you have paid. We will do what we can to assist you in your cancellation but the Mountain Workshops is not responsible for cancellations due to family or medical emergencies. If, for some reason, we have to cancel one of our workshops due to inadequate enrollment or other situations beyond our control, we will reimburse all funds paid directly to us. We cannot be responsible for hotel or non-refundable airline tickets.


Transportation, Food and Lodging


A car/transportation is required for the photojournalism, video and digital storytelling workshops. For picture editing it is possible to secure rides with other participants in the same workshop or the Mountain Workshops MAY be able to assist with ground transportation in-town if you are staying at one of our recommended hotels, but mobility may be very limited. It is best to communicate with us before paying tuition if you intend to not have a car at the workshops.

You are responsible to obtain your own airline, hotel reservations and meals as well as transportation to and from the airport to the workshop community.


Subject to Change


Our coaches are professionally in high demand and sometimes a listed coach is unable to participate because of a last-minute change in their schedule. If we need to replace a coach, we will do so with a person of similar credentials in the business. 


Copyright and Archives Agreement


In order to preserve the longevity of the Mountain Workshops content, and to realize the importance of this collection of images, stories and videos about the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we have partnered with WKU Archives to manage and archive your edited work from this week.

• You keep your own copyright of everything you collect.

• The Mountain Workshops may use content or your likeness to promote the workshops.

• The WKU Archives is accessible to WKU faculty, students and staff for research only.

• If an interested party wishes to use an item beyond research, the WKU Archives can sell the content, but you will be contacted first.

• If you want to sell the image yourself, WKU Archives will provide you with a contact of the interested party.

• After 25 years from the date on this contract, all rights to your collection will transfer to WKU Archives unless you specify otherwise in writing to the Archive office.



I retain the copyright to my own work obtained during the Mountain Workshops and I agree to allow the Mountain Workshops to use my photographs, video, audio, words, design or interactive graphics and all other materials, as well as my likeness taken during the workshops, without compensation, for promotional products such as websites, social media, broadcast dissemination, books, multimedia, digital distribution and exhibits related to the Mountain Workshops or Western Kentucky University’s promotion of the School of Journalism & Broadcasting and its associated events.



I own the personal property and original art gathered at the Mountain Workshops and desire to give said personal property to the WKU Archives. As copyright holder I do hereby give and transfer to the WKU Archives the full use and limited rights, title and interests, including limited copyright, trademark and related interests, in and to the described property for educational use by WKU students, faculty and staff. I do hereby agree to inform WKU Archives of changes in my contact information. After a period of 25 years from this date or upon my death, I hereby grant that all rights will irrevocably and unconditionally transfer to WKU Archives unless requested otherwise by written communication to WKU Archives.

WKU Archives will digitally store and have available for academic research by WKU faculty, staff and students, the photojournalism participant's final edit as well as the video storytelling participant's final published video. You will be notified via email (your registration email) for any request for use other than research. You will have an option to approve or deny the request. If you deny, WKU Archives will make available to you the requesting party's contact information and it becomes your responsibility to pursue the business exchange. If you approve the request, WKU Archives will make arrangements for the sale and collect all monetary gains from the sale. You are required to keep your contact current with WKU Archives by communicating with WKU Archives at 270-745-4793 or archives@wku.edu.



Frequently Asked Questions


How do I submit my photos, videos and resumé for my application?


You can either put the URL of your work online on the application form, email images or videos (under 8 megs) to mountainworkshops@wku.edu or mail a hard copy to:

Miranda Pederson
Western Kentucky University
The Mountain Workshops
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11070
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1070


Can I attend any or all of the workshops?


Yes you can, but only one at a time. Workshops all run at the same time, so you can only take one workshop per year. However, each workshop has its own educational component, and coming back each year for a new workshop will result in an entirely new experience. There is no suggested order for taking the  workshops; just choose whichever order that makes the most sense to you in your educational training.


Can I attend any of these workshops even though I am not a student?


Yes, the workshop is open to anyone who wants to improve his or her storytelling abilities. We have had participants from major newspapers and magazines as well as freelance visual storytellers who run their own business and see the workshops as a way to give them an edge over the competition.


If I am a student but not at Western Kentucky University can I attend any of the workshops?


Yes. In fact, almost half of our college-age enrollment comes from universities other than Western Kentucky. We welcome graduate students as well.


What do tuition fees for each workshop cover?


Tuition covers educational costs only. You will need to pay for your hotel, travel and food costs during your stay.


Do I need to bring a laptop?


The Mountain Workshops has a network of Macintosh computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling or picture editing workshop, you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the photography workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Photography participants write captions and stories in our writing area that is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the photography workshop are archived on our servers, but if you wish to archive your own images and take them with you, you should bring a laptop and card reader and download your images throughout the week. If you are in the digital storytelling workshop you are required to bring your own laptop for individual use but "team" computers will also be available.


Do I need to bring an external hard drive?


Whichever workshop you enroll in, if you wish to take your content home with you, you will need to bring a hard drive. We recommend at least 400 GB of free space for video storytelling workshop, and 250 GB for the other workshops.


Do participants need to provide their own equipment?


We expect all photography, video and digital storytelling participants to have their own camera bodies, lenses, tripods and lighting system. For many years, camera company representatives have been at the Workshops with a wide range of loaner gear, but nothing is guaranteed. Our audio equipment sponsors provide a limited amount of audio gear, and various vendors may supply a limited number of tripods for participant use. Every year the Mountain Workshops depends on sponsor support, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we encourage all participants to bring as much of their own equipment as possible.


Do I need a car?


Yes. Covering your story and shooting features will require that you’re able to travel to different locations in the county throughout the week. The picture editor and digitl storytelling participants spend most of their day at the headquarters. However, you are responsible to get yourself to and from the hotel and also to get out for dining purposes. It is possible to share rides, and in some instances, it is possible to walk. But verify the headquarter location to your selected hotel before you choose the walking options. These communities are small and many do not have taxi or Uber service. Please communicate with us if you do not intend to not have a car on location before paying your tuition.


Who will the coaches be?


Each year we select coaches based on their professional experience and their ability to mentor participants and support their learning and growth. We usually announce the final roster of coaches about a month before the Workshops begin, often sooner. You’ll find the announcement on our web site and also on our social media outlets.


Do I get to pick my coach?


No. We pair coaches and participants based on a variety of factors. You will be assigned to one coach, but you are also encouraged to meet with other coaches during the week and take advantage of their insights and suggestions.


Do I have to find my own story?


No. We have story researchers scouring the county well in advance of the workshop.


How are stories assigned?


Names, descriptions, and contact information for story subjects are put into in a hat, and each participant randomly draws an assignment at the opening of the workshops. After drawing your assignment from the hat, you will discuss the story with your coach and then go out and try to secure the cooperation of your subject. Every person has a story, and the faculty and staff at the Mountain Workshops will come together to help you find a compelling way to tell that story.


Can I shoot as much as I want and in any format that I want?


In the Photojournalism workshop we limit the amount of images you can take. Your coaches will work with you about how each photograph is made. Our educational philosophy is to slow down and concentrate on moments. Turn off your motor drive and connect with your subject. Our workflow is in JPEG format, if you wish to shoot RAW files you will need to shoot both RAW and JPEG. We will ingest the JPEGs into our workflow and you will be responsible to save your own RAW files for later use.

Ready to Apply?

The application process starts July 1, 2018 and will continue until all seats for each workshop sells out.


Interested applicants must fill out the online application to start the process to be considered for the 2018 Mountain Workshops. Data Visualization participants are required to express an interest in journalistic storytelling and a desire to learn. There is no portfolio requirement, however, a link to your photography/design work is always helpful in determining our selection. Once accepted, you will be notified by email and instructed on how to pay to reserve your spot. This workshop can sell out. Your seat is not confirmed until you make your payment. Registration and acceptance alone does not guarantee a seat.

Apply Now

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