We teach communication through storytelling.
Tim Knight himself has done almost everything in the communications field — writer, reporter, anchor, interviewer, foreign correspondent, filmmaker, journalism trainer, script doctor and communications coach.
It’s been a long and winding journey.
In South Africa he worked for the Natal Mercury, the Sunday Express and the Rand Daily Mail. Then it became politically necessary for him to cross the border to work with Zambia TV.
After that, three years and two wars as foreign correspondent with United Press International in the Congo. On to 10 years in New York with ABC TV and Radio, NBC-TV, and PBS. Then he crossed another border and spent 15 years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
He produced CBC’s flagship news program, The National, and for 10 years served as Executive Producer and lead trainer for all CBC’s TV journalists.
He eventually tired of working for other people. So time to move on and go freelance.
As President of Tim Knight + Associates, he coached communicators in Canada, the U.S. (five years as Consultant to PBS), Jamaica, Mauritius, Spain, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana and South Africa. (See Training Reviews.)
In Canada alone, he led communications workshops at, among others, the CBC; Radio-Canada; CTV; The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN); the National Aboriginal Communications Society; TV-5; Wawatay; The Sports Network (TSN); TVOntario; Radio-Québec; TV-A; VideoTron; Vision TV; Discovery Network; HGTV; The Real News and Shaw Cable.
Knight’s workshops and presentations for professional groups included the International Television Workshop (Rockport, Maine); the Commonwealth Journalists Association; INPUT (keynote speaker at the 2002 international public service TV producer’s Rotterdam conference); Médecins Sans Frontières; the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium, the Radio and Television News Directors Association; the Innoversity Creative Summit; Journalists For Human Rights and the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Knight is a former director of the Writers Guild of America (East), and former Advisory Board member of both Journalists For Human Rights and the Innoversity Creative Summit.
That’s the shortened, more formal résumé.
Now, in Tim’s own words, some highlights along the way:
I start out as a very young newspaper reporter in South Africa. An exclusive report for the Sunday Express on the funeral of the 69 victims of the Sharpeville police massacre is one of many anti-apartheid stories which make it wise to take my family across the border to Zimbabwe, then on to Zambia.
As United Press International correspondent in the Congo, I cover two wars and join a United Nations reconnaissance team — led by the U.N.’s chief spy — captured and beaten by Katangese rebels.
The story makes headlines around the world and is Chapter 22: The Man in the Red Bandanna in my book Storytelling And The Anima Factor.
In New York, I’m part of the team that produces WABC’s trailblazing Eyewitness News, described by Marshall McLuhan as “a revolutionary event in telecommunications.” For better or worse, Eyewitness News is still the industry standard for local TV news around the world.
Closest I get to a formal tertiary education is producing ABC-TV’s coverage of the student riots at Columbia and Yale universities in the seventies, guest-lecturing at more than a dozen universities and journalism schools in different parts of the world, and lecturing on Social Documentary at Wilfrid Laurier University.
My ABC-TV documentary on the Black Panthers never screens in its entirety because Apollo 13 broadcasts “Houston, we’ve had a problem” ten minutes after the program rolls. So the network cuts to space and never returns.
I cover a Klu Klux Klan cross-burning in Pennsylvania, freedom marches in Mississippi, the funeral of Malcolm X, and the founding conference of the Radical Women’s Movement in New York (a group of the more radical delegates seize much of the best footage, drown it in the East River.)
I drop acid with “turn on, tune in and drop out” guru Timothy Leary for the Emmy-winning ABC documentary LSD: Trip to Where? and am the NBC reporter covering the Brooklyn bank hostage-taking later filmed as Dog Day Afternoon.
For NBC, I produce and report my own vasectomy operation.
I write three documentaries for UNESCO — I recommend the splendidly civilized company in the U.N. Delegate’s Lounge — and news for my friend, ABC anchor Peter Jennings.
In the line of duty, I meet three prime ministers and seven presidents. I’m invited to Nelson Mandela’s 81st birthday celebration in Johannesburg and suggest to the Nobel Prize winner that the only actor who can play him in the planned movie on his life is my old friend, Morgan Freeman, with whom I once collaborated on a never-finished book.
Nine years later comes the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman.
I write and narrate the two-hour documentary, The Russians Are Coming, for CBC Radio’s prestigious Ideas program, famed as “the series for people who just enjoy thinking.”
In 2008, I executive produce, co-direct, write and narrate Inside Noah’s Ark, a three-hour wildlife series shot in South Africa for the Discovery Channel. Also aired by Animal Planet, PBS and 15 international broadcasters. Its focus is that wildlife reserves are no longer truly wild but have to be managed like giant ranches — huge zoos — if they’re to survive for our children. The three hours are now licensed internationally to Amazon where they can be screened and downloaded.
In 2009, I’m writer-in-residence at the world’s most notorious resort, Hedonism, in Negril, Jamaica.
Between 2012 and 2014, I write Watching the Watchdog, a regular column on politics and the media, for Huffington Post, Canada, and The Canadian Daily.
In June 2014 I teach a seminar on storytelling at APTN, the world’s only aboriginal people’s television network.
The next month I move my headquarters to Cape Town, South Africa, to write and consult in a warmer climate.
Almost immediately I head off to Lesotho to cover an attempted coup for The Journalist, The Canadian Daily and ColdType. I overstay my South African visa, and am banned from returning to South Africa for a year. Three weeks later, I’m unbanned. (See Fall and Rise of Our Man in Lesotho.)
So much for a quiet life under the sun.
Over the years, I write three books on communication and journalism including Storytelling And The Anima Factor, now in its second edition, and the CBC-published The Television Storyteller: A Guide for TV Journalists.