Meet North Alumnus Dave Jorgenson – A Washington Post video producer, TikTok creator and author. 

Behind the scenes photo of Dave Jorgenson creating at TikTok with his dog Lola laying in her bed. For Jorgenson, the attention to detail is very important in his TikToks. “I believe pretty whole-heartily in the concept of editing in terms of keeping someone’s attention,” Jorgenson said. “I think that any little micro edit you make on a fifteen-second video can really make the difference in terms of keeping people’s attention and just making it flow. Doing subtle things like my easter eggs, or my can of SPAM in the corner, something that kinda is ‘oh wait, what’s that?’ That I think is really important in keeping the retention rate.” (Dave Jorgenson )

Heading into his senior year of high school at SM North Dave Jorgenson, had no plan for his future.

“That panic [of not knowing what to do] really set in and I think Tate saw that in me,” Jorgenson said. 

Jorgenson was approached by North’s current journalism teacher Becky Tate to be the Sports Editor for the 2009 yearbook. 

“Going into right before senior year they were looking for a sports editor for the yearbook and for some reason Tate thought I should do it,” Jorgenson said. “I was like ‘Okay!’, not realizing the undertaking that was about to be, and suddenly I’m learning InDesign and trying to make a bunch of spreads for the yearbook. It was crazy but amazing, learning Adobe, and Photoshop and InDesign through a crash course at the yearbook at North was perfect for me because Adobe also has Adobe Creator Pro which is where I edit videos even today. That was really my introduction to journalism and editing.” 

His parents, Mary and Mark Jorgenson noticed that Dave was immediately impacted by his position. 

“He was really passionate about it, and it was really important to him that it was done well,” Mary said. “It was the first time he really thought of it as a job. He was really loving what he was doing and realizing that this is something he could do, and do well.”

Joining journalism would prove to be a crucial step to spur Daves’ interest in writing. 

“In high school, it’s tough because I know by the end of high school I decided I wanted to do some form of writing,” Dave said. “Which I think is still true, I still have to write whatever video I’m making really scripted out. There’s an aspect to that, but I knew that whatever my career was going to be it had to be something that involved being creative because if that’s not the case I’m just instantly bored.” 

This was no surprise to his mom as creativity was part of her son’s personality. 

“When he was a little kid he actually started writing his own comics strips,” Mary said. “Big Nose Bob was a character that he created in grade school. He would draw the character and create a comic strip around it.” 

During high school, Dave was involved in a wide variety of clubs and sports at North, including drumline, Pep Club, musical theater and basketball.

Dave Jorgenson stands in his SMN Drumline uniform during his senior year in 2009. Dave was interested in Drumline long before he went to North. “When my older sister was first going to North I remember seeing the drumline at a football game, and I’d always wanted to do that,” Jorgenson said. “When I got there it was a blast, and the most involved out of all the clubs.” (photo courtesy of Mark and Mary Jorgenson)

Pep Club allowed Dave to express his sense of humor through writing scripts at assemblies. 

“Pep Club used to be that you would try out in teams, so you’d have Pep Club president, treasurer, secretary, vice president and you would try out in that team,” Dave said. “The way you ran for Pep Club was you put on skits for the spring assembly, and after everyone watched the skits they would vote for their Pep Club team. That to me was so much fun, and after that, we were in charge of the fall, winter, and spring assemblies at North. We had the best time putting together those sports assemblies, and we did a skit to start each of them. I remember we did the winter sports assembly, and we all came there dressed as different vice principals. I dressed as Mr. Bartel, and I got my dad’s pants and put a pillow in each buttock, because he had a weirdly large butt, and everyone knew instantly who I was.”

Dave’s creativity and humor would only grow from there, today he has made a career out of making TikToks and news-related videos for the Washington Post. 

“Right now as we’ve been in quarantine during the pandemic I have basically resolved to making two TikToks every day and that takes up eight hours, at least,” Jorgenson said. “That time also includes after posting them interacting with everybody who’s commented on them and sending links to them if it’s a news related TikTok and they’re asking [questions]. Being present on the app is a big part of growing the Washington Post presence.” 

But before Dave could get to creating TikToks, he would attend the University of Tulsa as well as DePauw University in Indiana, where he gained even more journalism experience. 

Dave smiles in his graduation photo from DePauw University in 2013. His father, Mark Jorgenson was surprised by how fast he had warmed up to the university. “He made the decision, a decision that I couldn’t have made at the time to go to DePauw,” Mark said. “I remember his calling one time to tell me that ‘I’ve just had the best class ever.'” (Mark and Mary Jorgenson)

“I was in a media program in college and to be in the honors program you had to be a part of the radio, the newspaper and tv station at the school at different times,” Jorgenson said. “So I definitely started to expand my horizons that way.” 

In 2012, Jorgenson moved to New York to start an internship at the Colbert Report, his original show before the creation of The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert. 

“Through that I learned a lot more about politics just by being there because it was the 2012 election when I was an intern. I actually came to really enjoy politics and learn about it. By the time I was at the Post I was sort of ready to make videos around political satire.” 

 Colbert would turn out to be an important role model in Jorgenson’s career. 

“He showed respect to everyone below him, including interns, by doing that he set a standard for how you should treat other people,” Jorgenson said. “So I’ve always taken that to heart and made sure to treat anyone that I’m working with, with the same respect. His general ability and desire to try something weird, and accomplish it in a short amount of time. I always get very frustrated when I try to do something and someone’s always like ‘Oh I don’t know about the time if this could work’, that drives me crazy. There’s always a chance that you can make something work in a small amount of time, which is probably why something like TikTok appeals to me.”

Eventually, Jorgenson’s interest turned towards the video making and editing portion of journalism, a small startup website called IJR where he would create political vines. 

“The place I used to work we would make vines every debate night in 2016,” Jorgenson said. “We would just pull footage as fast as we could and create funny vines based on what was being said of the debates; which was super easy to do because everyone was saying insane things. We actually grew the vine account that way, [and] I actually learned how to edit from six-second snippet videos, and from there I now make longer-form videos.” 

Jorgenson would end up meeting his future editor, Michelle Jaconi on one of his many video presentations at the start-up website. 

“I actually worked at a start-up called Independent Review, and I was hired there to run the newsroom so I was the big boss,” Jaconi said. “I came in, and I didn’t know anybody, and one of the first people I met was Dave. I knew that they had talent and was really excited. I went to go meet him and he was sitting there in the newsroom. I’ll never forget this because it was so different from my life experience, but as a news executive, he was there and he was wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt that had the Ninja Turtles on it, and it said Democratic party next to a square and Republican party next to a square, and then it said pizza party and there was a square with a checkmark on it.” 

After Jaconi moved from her job at the Independent Review to the Washington Post, Jorgenson soon followed in June 2017. 

“He has an incredible work ethic,” Jaconi said. “You never know how hard people work, and he has what I always look for when I’m hiring a host.”

Jaconi believes that a “host” needs to embody the values of the Washington Post newspaper. 

“Dave is an Eagle Scout, is patriotic, hardworking, resourceful, and he is very much of the people,” Jaconi said.  “He has sisters that he says keep him humble and you definitely saw something that I love in the interview process for everything he does. The self-deprecating humor, he really can be intimidating, he’s over six feet tall and is always so funny that he makes everybody at ease right away. The number one thing that scared me about the media was that it was intimidating to people, and that isn’t journalism. Journalism shouldn’t be elitist. Explaining things to average people without talking down to them is a skill that I love in any host I work with, and that’s really why I thought Dave was perfect.” 

Before creating TikToks, Jorgenson worked on a variety of different video interviews, one of his most popular being his Short Takes series.

“I was just pitching concepts and one of the concepts pitches back to me was doing a modern day version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, and doing one that was for YouTube,” Dave said. “For most of the Short Takes videos it has been like either going to a location or going somewhere in D.C where you can see the White House or something behind them and just ask kids something that’s happening currently in the news. As we’ve evolved I’ve discovered that open ended questions are always better because if I ask a kid a yes or no question they’ll say yes or no. But if I ask kids an open ended question they’ll either give me a really funny question or they’ll totally make something up.” 

Jorgenson and Jaconi both viewed this series as a much needed political break. 

“When we started at the Post the temperature of the media was so hot that Dave was looking forward to doing something that would lower the temperature,” Jaconi said. “There’s nothing more delightful than looking through the world in a kid’s eyes. My kids will give Dave feedback on his TikToks or his videos. They definitely love Dave’s dog Lola, they love animal content, their only criticism is more Lola.” 

To get the other members of the Washington Post staff comfortable with the creation of TikTok, Jorgenson and Jaconi would work together to create a video with Washington Post editor Marty Baron

“Even though he didn’t understand it, he understood that I really believed in this as something good for the Post,” Jaconi explains. “We did one with him where Dave thinks it’s Liev Schrieber. That was a really big moment because it made it okay in the newsroom. People who worked at the Post, their children were really into TikTok. We did a newsroom presentation to explain TikTok, so we actually made a TikTok in the process of that.”

This would be the first of many collaborating on the Washington Post TikTok. 

“Some people who I didn’t have preexisting relationships with, [creating videos] has allowed me to like ‘Hey can you do this for me, my name’s Dave by the way nice to meet you,’” Jorgeson said. “It’s actually been a really great way to meet the 800 people in the newsroom.”

Jaconi assures that Jorgenson TikToks have helped him to collaborate with other staff members as well.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is, he has probably collaborated with more than 500 employees at the Post,” Jaconi said. “He has collaborated with so many people, from the intern series to a series during the protests in the summer, I think that he’s had a super fun time collaborating.” 

Jorgenson created a variety of series that have attracted the Washington Posts’ attention, typically with the collaboration of other members of the Washington Post.

In the Washington Post newsroom, the staff has set up a sign which reads “Absolutely no TikToks – unless the WashPost TikTok Guy” Dave Jorgenson assures that collaborations inside the Post have only grown. “At least a 100 different people at work have probably come up to me with TikTok ideas,” Jorgenson said. “So that’s really great because it kinda diversifies not only our content but also the perspective content, and things that I would have never thought about, so you get a bunch of different voices that way.” ( Michelle Jaconi)
This is a t-shirt design made by the Washington Post staff, with their TikTok Slogan “We are a newspaper”. “Those who never might have grown up touching a hard copy of a newspaper, that wasn’t published by a school, it is really important for me, and for you to establish a relationship that is based on trust and appreciation, and hard work, and patriotism,” Jaconi said. “That’s what a community newspaper does.” (photo courtesy : Michelle Jaconi)

















“I love a lot of his stunt-fun videos, but I love when Eugene Scott did a TikTok during the Black Lives Matter protest,” Jaconi said. “Where he was talking about being a black man in the newsroom, and that was really so well done. It just captured the emotion, and was incredibly personal.” 

Jaconi watched over time as Dave’s account has grown, with quarantine, many people have started to discover his content. 

“Now he’s so become big that he gets ideas from everywhere in the newsroom,” Jaconi said. “People pitch him on the street, when we go for coffee people pitch him ideas. He is the creative soul of that channel, and he definitely deserves the credit for its creative arch.”

In May, MediaWise named Jorgenson as a MediaWise Ambassador The ambassadors help inform younger readers to distinguish media bias while also finding reputable sources. 

MediaWise’s primary goal is to inform readers of the “fact and fiction” from the news sources they rely on; Jorgenson joins a number of famous ambassadors such as John Green, Tyler Oakley and Christiane Amanpour. 

“I’ve been much more proactive recently about trying to make TikToks that are not only informing but kind of like having a conversation,” Jorgenson said. “With George Floyd’s death and just the Black Lives Matter Movement in general I started to incorporate way more TikToks that featured Black colleagues, but also discussions about what’s going on in a much more frank way. Not necessarily trying to make funny TikToks all the time. I want our account to reflect reality.” 

Jorgenson is currently working on a book which encourages others to create videos. 

“I just saw the cover and tears came to my eyes, to think that he has now worked hard enough to become an expert,” Jaconi said. “I just really get happy when the right people succeed, and he really is a wonderful human and storyteller.” 

Jorgenson advises students about the importance of involvement in school and trying new things. 

“Not only does this allow you to grow your own path, but it allowed me to grow my own interests,” Jorgenson said. “The more you span your horizons, the better off it’s going to be. I had this very clear idea, for a time I wanted to be away from Kansas City. When you have the opportunity to intern maybe somewhere else, do it. Don’t be afraid of leaving your comfort zone. That’s what it really boils down to, whenever you leave your comfort zone 99 percent of the time something good comes out of it.”


Washington Post Offical TikTok Account

MediaWise Ambassador

Eugene Scott TikTok

intern series

series during the protests in the summer

Marty Baron TikTok 

Short Takes

Eagle Scout Series