James Irwin, an award-winning video journalist whose career includes extensive experience in broadcast television and online news, is an independent video producer, as well as being a producer for cbsSF.com/KPIX-TV in San Francisco.
Irwin is the former director of video journalism and senior videographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, where he established and supervised that paper’s first foray into full-time video newsgathering in 2005. Before being named director of video journalism in the Chronicle newsroom, Irwin served nine years as multimedia manager at the Chronicle’s online unit, SFGate.com, which is among the nation’s most-visited newspaper Web sites.
A longtime practitioner of ‘one-man-band’ documentary-style journalism, Irwin has produced hundreds of video reports for broadcast, cable and the Web. In addition, he has also worked on numerous productions for network and independent production companies as a contributing field producer, cameraman, editor and live-to-tape director.
In 2007, James Irwin won a National News/Documentary Emmy Award for producing, photographing and editing “Prisoners Guide Teens on a Tour of San Quentin” and he was nominated in the same category for another Web video report, “Two Dads, Five Sons – Forever Family.” The former title was also the winner in the video-editing/Web features category in the National Press Photographers’ ‘NPPA: Best of 2006’ competition. In May 2009, Irwin received a Northern California Emmy Award in the category “Advanced Media: News Programming” for three reports he photographed, reported and edited for SFGate.com in 2008.
James Irwin began his career in 1979, interning as a news cameraman at KCRA-TV in Sacramento and soon moved to KTVN, the CBS affiliate in Reno, Nevada where he worked as story producer, cameraman and editor on the station’s PM Magazine team. Notable assignments he covered include the extortion/bombing of Harvey’s hotel and casino in Lake Tahoe, the first flight of the Learfan, the leper colony on Molokai, the real-life Melvin Dummar, whose story inspired the movie ‘Melvin and Howard,’ and heli-skiing the High Sierra (which won a 1981 PM Magazine national award for feature photography).
After leaving KTVN, Irwin co-founded an independent production company where he served as director of photography, editor and producer for productions that aired on CNN, BBC, Entertainment Tonight, ESPN, HBO, News Travel Network and KPIX-TV in San Francisco. As a freelance cameraman, his assignments have taken him from Hawaii to England, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, the Caribbean and across the continental U.S.
While still working as an independent producer, Irwin developed an interest in the emerging world wide web and, in 1994, he set up one of the early sites to feature video and interactive panoramic photography. In 1995 this led to a collaboration with the fledgling Chronicle/Examiner-owned news site ‘The Gate’ in San Francisco (later rebranded SFGate.com), where he joined the staff as a full-time multimedia producer in early 1996. In a subsequent role as multimedia manager, he supervised a 7-member team in the production, presention and integration of photos and video with articles while continuing to produce original, weekly multimedia news features for the site.
Born in California’s Central Valley, Irwin attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton and lives in San Francisco with his wife, Karen.