Arrowman Justin Abshire can always find something or someone interesting in New Orleans, even on days aside from Mardi Gras. His work as a photojournalist for WGNO, an ABC affiliate, has landed him two Emmy nominations and one win from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Suncoast Chapter. This chapter represents parts of many states in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. Justin describes the stories he works on as “happy news” -- stories that lift the viewer’s spirits.
The category “Human Interest – News” is where Justin received one of his two nominations. The story he put together was on a young man known as “Little Levi.” Levi has one of the rarest forms of dwarfism, one with approximately twenty documented cases worldwide, and as such the doctors dealing with his required personal care have very specialized knowledge. Levi’s family partnered with Miracle Flights, a charity that assists families in paying for flights to see specialized doctors around the country. A small miracle in its own right, Levi was Miracle Flights’ 1000th flyer. Levi, one of the most cheerful individuals Justin has met in his career, never had a frown on his face. This story sought to show viewers that a positive attitude can itself overcome any challenge.
In the category “Arts/Entertainment – News Series,” Justin received a second nomination, which he won. Three stories were put together, one of which was the unique story of an artist. This artist did not work in painting or music but rather in performance -- and not the kind you’d see in theaters. This artist spends hours retyping novels with the same model of typewriter that the author originally used to create the work. Meeting this man was a unique encounter by itself. Justin, while recording for a story on a life-sized gingerbread car, asked for this passerby’s thoughts on it. After replying, the artist revealed a little about his grand project and from there, Justin knew he had found a very special story.
Justin began his career in Scouting as an Arrowman in Quelqueshoe Lodge from the Lake Charles area of Louisiana. In Scouting, he learned how to step up as a leader, how to teach others and how to develop top-notch organizational skills. His involvement in Scouting has given him a unique connection to people he meets while out finding stories. One time reporting from a courtroom, he struck up a conversation with a lawyer after noticing a NESA pin on the lawyer’s lapel. The brotherhood he has with his colleagues at WGNO is something he embraces, and he treats every day at the office as an adventure. The cheerfulness in him helps the subjects of his stories feel at ease as they go in front of the camera. Dedicated service in his career has taken him to one of the pinnacles of the journalism world – winning an Emmy. The values of brotherhood, cheerfulness and service that Justin applies to his job make it easy for him to love his profession. He remarks that his office, the news van, has “the best view” because “it can take him anywhere.”
Now an adviser in Chilantakoba Lodge, Justin shows the way for Arrowmen to become stronger leaders and better citizens of our country and the New Orleans community. His productive and fulfilling career is a beacon of inspiration to his lodge’s youth for them to seek a line of work that they love as much as for Justin. Bringing the happiest stories of New Orleans to its residents, while serving his community through his lodge, is how Justin Abshire personifies the principles of Scouting and the OA.
Like his news van, the skills learned in Scouting can take one anywhere. All it takes is deciding where “anywhere” is. Justin took his skills to the stage of the Suncoast Chapter Emmys and to the hearts of the viewers of WGNO. Where will your “anywhere” be?