Video storytelling at forefront for new Asper Visiting Professors

UBC Journalism is emphasizing innovative video storytelling with the appointment of its new Asper Visiting Professors.

Leslie KnottAward-winning documentary filmmaker Leslie Knott and prominent urban storyteller Uytae Lee are joining the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media as Asper Visiting Professors for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Knott, whose work has been featured on BBC and Al Jazeera, is known for her in-depth reporting on global conflicts and human rights issues.

Her documentaries have brought international attention to the plight of refugees and communities impacted by environmental disasters. They can be seen on Netflix, BBC, Channel 4 and CNN.

“I see this year's selection of the Asper Visiting Professor as a salute to local heroes.”
Director, School of Journalism, Writing, and Media

Lee, creator of the popular YouTube channel “About Here,” has gained recognition for his innovative approach to explaining urban planning and sustainability issues. His video essays have made complex topics more accessible and engaging to a broad audience.

“I see this year’s selection of the Asper Visiting Professor as a salute to local heroes,” says Kamal Al-Solaylee, Director of the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media.

“Leslie is a Vancouverite who has worked around the world for more than two decades as an educator and documentary producer and director. The Asper position marks her return to her hometown.

“And Uytae is no stranger to JWAM having co-taught our Visual Journalism course with Professor Alfred Hermida for the past two years. His work as an urban planner and decoder of cities has helped me understand how Vancouver works and doesn’t work.

“I’m confident that our students will gain valuable insights on local and global issues from these two talented journalists” said Al-Solaylee.

Range of video experience

As Asper Visiting Professors, Knott and Lee will be sharing their expertise and mentoring students through lectures and workshops.

Knott will bring her over two decades of experience producing investigative films in areas of conflict and post conflict to a new course, Investigative Journalism in Documentary Filmmaking. The course will teach students essential investigative skills, from conducting in-depth research and rigorous fact-checking to cultivating sources and uncovering hidden truths.

“After honing my craft in documentary filmmaking internationally for the past 20 years, I’m looking forward to returning home to BC. I’m excited to share my experiences and insights into journalism today,” said Knott.

“It’s a privilege to do that at UBC, helping the next generation of storytellers dig deep into stories that can change the way we see the world.”

Uytae Lee (Photo by Alfred Hermida)As the creator of the popular YouTube channel “About Here,” Lee has redefined how urban issues are communicated to the public, with his work garnering a substantial following for their insightful analysis and creative presentation.

Lee will teach students about the importance of visual storytelling in communicating complex urban issues in a way that resonates with audiences. In his courses, Visual Journalism and Advanced Visual Journalism, students will have the opportunity to create their own projects, receiving feedback and guidance from Lee throughout the process.

“Having previously taught at the school, I know I’m joining a passionate and engaged community at the forefront of journalism’s ongoing evolution,” said Lee.

“As the media industry evolves and finds its footing online, I find that there’s more and more demand for well-produced and ambitious stories that reach through social media algorithms to truly captivate people. Through this role, I hope to equip students with the skills and instincts to do just that.”

The visiting professor position is endowed by the Asper Foundation. It enables the journalism program to bring high-calibre journalists into the classroom and offer students additional opportunities to learn from professionals.

Last year, the visiting professors were award-winning multimedia journalist Carrie Ching and award-winning journalist and author Sadiya Ansari.