By Jessica Noll
No other journalist can tell a story quite like Jessica Noll.
She listens to the story—their darkest secrets and deepest pain, their greatest passions, their rawest vulnerabilities and their fears. She captures it into a heart-wrenching piece of journalism, whether it’s with text, video, photography or all three.
“Jessica is a compassionate reporter who has a knack for building relationships with fragile and complex sources who give her unfettered access into their lives,” said Taylor Mirfendereski, a multimedia journalist who co-chairs the Society of Professional Journalists’ digital community.
Noll has won multiple awards and was nominated for an Emmy in her first year as a TV multimedia journalist, but the greatest prize to the community is being the voice of those who need to be heard.
“I don't chase the stories that everyone is talking about. I chase the stories that make everyone talk,” said Noll, who was the Life reporter for WCPO.com Insider.
It's a beat that required a hard edge with a heart and a critical eye with compassion.
“People who are going through the worst moments in their lives, talk to Jessica,” said Lanny Brannock, WCPO-TV’s multimedia investigative journalist. “It happens over and over, so it’s not an accident. It’s a gift. And it makes her a powerful storyteller.”
Noll covered issues and the people who are affected by them throughout the Tri-State, including immigration, addiction, poverty and faith. As the community's eyes and ears, she sought the truth and amplified their voices, getting the answers the public deserved.
“I am even more impressed by her ability to get people to open up about their battles with poverty, drug addiction and other very personal matters. Invariably, she tells their stories with compassion and accuracy, engaging readers with innovative storytelling techniques,” said Bob Driehaus, former reporter for the New York Times and current Insider education reporter.
After working in print for six years, Noll made her move into the digital realm of reporting, as well as a year in TV, where she excelled in visual storytelling.
“She enhances her writing with her photography, which reaches a level of excellence that would justify her thriving strictly as a photojournalist if her writing weren't so good,” Driehaus said.
As a multimedia journalist, she worked with WCPO-TV and WCPO.com for nearly a decade and has 14 years of experience in newspaper, TV and digital reporting—as well as engaging the community by optimizing social media. She reports, writes, investigates, photographs and shoots her own video to enhance the storytelling experience, taking you inside the story.
What her editors say…
“Powerful, compelling, emotional…"
Those are the words Noll’s editors used to describe her exclusive story about a missing heroin addict found dead in snow last winter.
READ MORE ABOUT NOLL’S COMPASSION IN STORYTELLING
She nabs the exclusive interviews that most cannot.
“She can connect with virtually any source and has the uncanny ability to get ‘regular’ folks to talk with her. She is almost immediately trusted and because of that knack and ability, she has landed stories that I am confident no one else in this market could get,” Christine Graves, Noll's managing editor, said in her most recent review.
“She is tenacious and pursues her stories with vigor.”
Storytelling outside the box
“Exit 34: The last watch of Officer Jason Ellis” is a prime example of the innovative work that Noll dominates in executing.
Written in present-tense narrative, “Exit 34” detailed the last 24 hours of slain Kentucky police officer Jason Ellis. Her writing included powerful details, supported by photos, video and audio that enhanced the user’s experience.
“She showed us all what is possible,” Graves said. “Jessica comes at her storytelling in rich and insightful ways and strives to answer a reader’s every question.”
READ MORE: Ellis’ last 24 hours reconstructed online
Noll not only understands, but also has mastered TV and digital integration within her ABC-affiliated station and digital newsrooms. That includes her work on “Exit 34” when she worked with Brannock.
Together, they built more than just a multimedia online story. They tailored the content for a TV segment to fit a different audience’s needs.
“It's rare to meet a reporter who is as well-sourced and technically skilled as Jessica. She uses video, text and photos to tell stories, and she knows how and when to effectively utilize each format,” Mirfendereski said. “She thinks outside the box as a storyteller, and she is one of the few people I know who lets the story drive the medium.”
Listening to her readers
The numbers don’t lie. Noll’s stories resonated with her audience.
“Exit 34” and a story about a local hospital’s volunteer baby cuddler program were two of the highest trafficked stories on WCPO.com in 2014.
The story doesn’t end when she files on deadline. Noll is meticulous at reviewing her own stories’ Google analytics, in which she habitually topped the charts for WCPO.com on a weekly basis. Those numbers allow her to better understand her readers and report on the issues that truly matter.
Noll undoubtedly brings a new voice to journalism with the tools she uses and the compassion she carries. She’s an industry leader and innovator for taking storytelling to the next level, across multiple platforms.