To natives of San Diego, Chopper the Biker Dog is a well-known figure, in large measure due to the investigative videojournalism of Joe Little, BA Speech Communication ’98.
Chopper, a Boston terrier that rides a motorized trike to visit seniors, sick kids, and wounded veterans, was facing revocation of his therapy dog license. Little’s reporting on the issue earned him first place in the Video Journalist General Assignment category in the 2016 National Press Photographers Association (NPAA) Best of Photojournalism contest.
Little is a television reporter with KGTV 10News, an ABC affiliate in San Diego, and is on the faculty of the NPAA News Video Workshop in Norman, Oklahoma. He has won severn Emmy Awards for his news coverage.
He mentions he loves working by himself because he controls nearly the entire presentation. “If I do it right, I get all the glory,” he says. “If I mess up, I can’t point the finger at anyone but myself.”
Little also effects change as a teacher. As an active journalist in the industry, his teaching is topical, relevant, and fresh. “Our industry is evolving so fast,” he says, “we can’t have [students] coming in to our business with dated skills.” He is constantly working on new curriculum, including partnering with the E. W. Scripps Company, which owns KGTV, on a training program for younger solo videojournalists.
All of this forward momentum stems from his degree at Mason. “The people in the old Student Video Center in Thompson Hall and GMU-TV were integral to preparing me for my career as a solo videojournalist,” he says. “I went to Syracuse for graduate school to learn how to be a reporter. However, I was able to distance myself from my classmates because I had a strong foundation in the technical side of video production.”
“[Mason] propelled me to where I am today,” Little says. “It’s a dream come true to be able to do what I love and teach it to others.”