iSchool Associate Professor Michael McKisson Supports Storytelling Through Photojournalism

April 11, 2024
Cascabel resident looking up

Longtime Cascabel, Arizona resident Barbara Clark shows off a wing of the home she and her family built. She has lived along the San Pedro River for more than 50 years. Photo by Michael McKisson, courtesy Arizona Luminaria.

Michael McKisson doesn’t just teach classes and direct undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona’s School of Information. He also tells stories through his photography and drone piloting—both inside and outside the classroom.

An April 10, 2024 article in Inside Climate News showcases McKisson’s photographic storytelling while also telling an important story, authored by Wyatt Myskow, about preserving one of Arizona’s most environmentally sensitive landscapes.

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Michael McKisson, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies.

In “Residents of One of Arizona’s Last Ecologically Intact Valleys Try to Detour the Largest Renewable Energy Project in the U.S.,” McKisson’s portraits and landscape aerials provide essential visual context to the impact of the SunZia transmission line that would carry wind energy to California via a new, high-voltage line running from eastern New Mexico to a connection into the Western power grid just east of Casa Grande, halfway between Tucson and Phoenix.

“The San Pedro Valley is one of the last ecologically intact landscapes left in the country,” writes Myskow. “Among unfragmented landscapes in Arizona, it’s second only to the Grand Canyon.”

McKisson’s photos include aerial views of SunZia construction along the San Pedro River Valley captured via drone, as well as intimate portraits of local residents who oppose construction of the transmission line.

“Storytelling is essential for those who work in information fields,” says McKisson, as he considers how his photojournalism supports his teaching in the iSchool. “My work as a photojournalist and drone pilot helps visualize complicated stories and information for diverse audiences. I bring professional visual storytelling skills and experience back into our classes to help students tell their own visual stories, whether through video, images, data visualization or other media and technology.”

His photojournalism has also been featured in such publications as Arizona Luminaria, Arizona Public Media, where he worked on Emmy-award winning stories, and PBS News Hour.

McKisson is an award-winning visual journalist and educator. He works with students on uncrewed aerial vehicle data collection, visual storytelling, product development and entrepreneurship. He holds a Part 107 FAA Certification allowing him to teach students to use drones in their work and is expanding his aerial work to include photogrammetry, orthomosaic map making and data collection via UAS. He is a contributing photographer for Arizona Luminaria, a nonprofit news site, and was founder and editor of, an online news site devoted to reporting about Tucson's bicycle infrastructure and community. Prior to joining the University of Arizona faculty, he worked as an online content producer at Arizona Daily Star. McKisson holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA.

Learn more about McKisson on his iSchool faculty page or explore ways to support School of Information faculty and research.