Connect-Bridgeport's 2017 Top Feature Stories: #6

By Julie Perine on January 01, 2018 via

Editor's Note: The community never tires of hearing about Bridgeport High School alumni who make their mark on the world. This Aug. 26 feature about Andrew Scritchfield, NBC photo journalist/camerman for NBC News Washington, is no exception. Scritchfield, who has interviewed political personalities including past U.S. presidents, attributes his career interest to BHS and journalism teacher, Alice Rowe. Both the traffic this story generated and the comments posted make this one of our top feature stories of the year. 
"Career of NBC News Washington Photo Journalist Andrew Scritchfield Inspired in Halls of BHS"
A 1994 graduate of Bridgeport High, Andrew Scritchfield is a photo journalist/cameraman for NBC News Washington. He has interviewed former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, President George W. Bush, President Barak Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, among other major political figures.
Last week, Scitchfield’s video of Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly – taken during an Aug. 15 presidential press conference concerning violence in Charlottesville, Va. – went viral. Last Friday, “Scritch,” as he’s known in the industry, was – like his journalistic peers in DC –scampering to cover the resignation of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
“It’s really kind of crazy,” he said. “And it all started back in the halls of BHS.”
Scritchfield, who lives in DC with his wife Rebecca and their young girls Audrey and Isla, looks fondly on his high school days and the journalism teacher who inspired his career.
“I think it was my sophomore year when I took journalism with Alice Rowe and I just really fell in love with photography,” he said. “First, it was still photos for the yearbook and then I moved into the morning news program, ‘Indian Insider” so students in the class took turns anchoring or doing technical stuff, running the camera, directing, setting up the show. That all really fueled my interest and passion in broadcast television. It’s what jumpstarted the whole thing.
While at BHS, Scritchfield also played soccer, ran track and was a violinist in the BHS Orchestra. It was through his musical pursuits that he earned a partial scholarship to West Virginia University, where he primarily pursued journalism.
 “I majored in broadcast news with a minor in music,” he said.
Scritchfield’s career has been a long and winding road. While still studying journalism at the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, he interned at WBOY TV.
“It was like my second or third week there, they asked me if I had ever done any news reporting for school and I said that I had,” he said.
“They asked me for examples of my work and I brought them in," he said. "Then they basically told me that the next day they were putting me on TV.”
Throughout that summer, Scritchfield was recording and gaining important on-air experience. After he graduated from WVU, WBOY offered him a fulltime job as a reporter.
“I was there for a very brief period of time,” he said. “I kind of got an understanding of what life was like as a local television reporter and I realized that I liked putting the stories together, but what I really loved was shooting the pieces – shooting he B-roll, the interviews and all the behind-the-camera stuff.
Scritchfield made a determination at that point that he didn’t want to go the local news route.
"I went to a little bigger market in hopes of one day landing somewhere," he said.
He applied for a job with a CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. and was hired as a production assistant.
“I did that for about a year and a half. This was right about when the whole dot-com boom was taking off, so basically I left TV and went to work for a dot-com and was out of the industry for about a year and a half,” he said.
From there, Scritchfield worked in a sales role for an electronic-based organization.
“I really did not like that, but it gave me flexibility to start doing some in-house media work,” he said. “I got to shoot different in-house videos, edit them and do some video production. I quickly realized that was where I needed to be, so I left that job and started a production company with a buddy of mine.”
The corporate gigs were good experience and the client base another perk, but being in a big city, it was a tough market and after his friend took a different career path, an offer came along for Scritchfield that he couldn’t refuse.
“NBC called me and asked me what I thought about coming to work there,” he said. “I thought about it for about 13 seconds and told him it sounded awesome.”
His first day on the job was the funeral of former President Gerald Ford.
“It was crazy,” Scritchfield said. “I just sort of got in and started making my presence known. Slowly but surely, they entrusted me to do more and more things and started bringing me out on interviews to help set up. Eventually, I convinced them I was a capable camera man and they said OK.”
He was soon the third cameraman for some major presidential interviews.
“One of my first big things was George Bush’s last interview from the White House,” he said.
Scritchfield has worked in 60 different countries, hopping on military planes to fly to various hot spots.
“The whole reason of being there is to tell the story as it’s unfolding,” he said. “Journalism is fascinating work.”
He explained how his viral video featuring John Kelly came to be.
Though he sometimes films for the presidential pool – footage which can be utilized by various major networks – Scritchfield was solely representing NBC at last Friday’s presidential press conference.
“That gives me much more leeway to sort of shoot things other than the president,” he said.
Typically, his camera would have been on the NBC correspondent or reporter as he or she is asking questions.
“My reporter was standing in front of me, going back and forth with the president, but being a journalist I immediately started looking around for other things,” he said. “I immediately saw John Kelly there and I see him start to angle a little bit toward the president. In my mind, I immediately thought that he was at some point going to give the president a cut-off sign and that I needed to get video of him doing that.”
So Scritchfield turned his camera on Kelly.
“Everybody else was shooting to the right and I swung all the way to the left and started shooting,” he said. “I pushed in, wanting to get facial expressions and he just starts reacting and his reactions are so fascinating. I kept rolling on him for several minutes.”
Scritchfield's activity wasn’t unusual.
“My colleagues and I do this sort of thing every day,” he said. “We are cameramen, but also journalists so we’re always looking to complete the whole story and this was an opportunity to complete the story by adding reaction by the newly-appointed chief of staff.”
Scritchfield found it funny – in a good sort of way – that the piece was picked up by ABC, CBS and other major networks.
“It was an NBC exclusive, but it definitely aired on multiple platforms,” he said.
Though he has done many high-profile pieces, Scritchfield said two very different shoots stand out in his memory as career highlights.
“I had opportunity to travel to Kenya for a week and we just did these great stories about a program designed to help young girls in need. We were just outside Nairobi, in the world-famous slums. The people are so unbelievably poor and the little girls especially have such a hard time. As soon as they are born, they are second-class citizens,” he said. “But this program was designed to give girls self-confidence and education and build them up. I spent a week there doing stories that were uplifting and heartening and just really left feeling like there was really some good in this world.”
Another very memorable shoot was in 2010, just after the earthquake in Haiti.
“They flew me and a producer down to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where a group of marines were going down to spend almost three weeks on the ground in Haiti, handing out aid and really just sort of talking on this humanitarian effort to be embedded with them, seeing daily lives and meeting all these amazing people in Haiti who had an unbelievable outlook on life,” Scritchfield said. “That was another time I came back home completely humbled. Even months later when I would go to the grocery store and there were 500 different types of yogurt to choose from, I thought about how some people may not even eat that day.”
Scritchfield’s parents George and Susan still live in the Bridgeport area. He is glad his girls, ages three and four-and-a-half, get to spend time on the farm where he grew up.
He credits BHS and the education he received there for inspiring him to pursue a career about which he is passionate.
“Like they say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.”
Filmed by Scritchfield, the video below is one of several versions posted on networks and social media platforms, collectively garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

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