I'll admit that this was one of the most exciting evenings for me in 2021. Although as an announcer I often hosted awards galas, this one was particularly close to me. For over 15 years, I have been subscribed to 'Press' – the most influential magazine depicting the world of Polish and international media. The 'Press' awards for the best photojournalists are a highly coveted competition.
What was required of me as an announcer?
I hosted an online gala broadcasted to several hundred thousand viewers, including viewers of the Onet.pl homepage, one of the biggest in Poland. And let's not forget about the handful of jurors and special guests invited to the studio.
What have we done to ensure a well-watched online event?
I paid special attention to go beyond the organiser's script, during the preparation stage. Throughout the numerous conversations for this online event, I proposed:
- minimising the distance between the host and the winners. We asked all the nominees to agree to refer to everyone on a first-name basis. I believe that in times of forced isolation - every barrier needs removing. The idea was well-received, all the more so as a great portion of the winners were 30- and 40-year-olds.
- introducing of a competition for Viewers, so as to engage them further. In the comments to the live video broadcast on Facebook, viewers could give feedback on the photo that raised the most emotions in them. In the opinion of the Editorial Board, the most detailed and heartfelt statements were awarded with an annual subscription to the 'Press' magazine. I also suggested that someone from the Editorial Board constantly respond to comments and even initiate and generate further discussion.
- entering into constant interaction with the Viewers. Instead of a traditional clipboard, I had only a tablet device in my hands. The screen of my iPad is divided into two parts – in one I have a preview of the scenario, in the other I observe what is happening on Facebook. I read many of the comments aloud, along with the commenter. In the moments when I did not speak to the camera, i.e. when the best photos were broadcast, I also replied to selected comments. People should have the impression that they are on stage with us and participate in the event on an equal footing.
How did I prepare my materials?
When I was working on my own version of the script, I tried to find additional information about the winners. Thanks to this, I learned, for example, that Mateusz Skwarczek from 'Wysokie Obcasy' magazine had already won the Grand Press Photo award – exactly 5 and 10 years ago. In the course of our short online conversation, I made a fun remark about this. In turn, analyzing the photo of Martyna Niećko, on the website of her University I found a curious fact: to get 'just the right' dramatic lighting of the heroine, she used only an ordinary lamp. An interesting conversation about the photographer's workshop ensued.
In the archival issues of "Press" I also found information about previous editions of the competition. I refer to the events from years ago, whereby I also decided to honorably mention the name of Mr. Roman Czejarek, the current, long-time host. I also listened to a few recordings in French to refresh my knowledge of the language for a conversation with Romain Laurendeau, chairman of the jury.
What are organisers and participants saying?
I was one of the few people who watched the gala on the spot, in the Relax cinema. Most of the viewers accompanied us online. I think that reconciling these two worlds is not easy, and the host of the gala did it by interacting with the commenters of the gala in the chat.
It wasn't another boring and static award ceremony. Being a representative of the young generation, Mr. Maciej introduced an element of openness to the audience, instead of speaking from the pulpit.
Artistic photographer, Member of the Jury, Grand Press Photo