Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brain Sprain

Our team, Brain Sprain, won Trivia Night on Monday. The host was a different person than usual, and the questions were noticeably easier. Or, our team became immeasurably smarter since last time. Probably the former.

One question did test us and the rest of the crowd quite a bit. Here it is:

If I gave you $100, then I would twice as much money as you do.
But if you gave me $100, then I would five times as much money as you.
How much money do I have and how much money do you have?


Monday, August 30, 2010

Breaking News: Oak Knoll Fire

I covered for another reporter on Saturday and Sunday and was given Monday and Tuesday off as my "weekend." Tuesday afternoon, I sat down to watch the 6:00 news to see what was going on and get primed for work the next day.

After the usual video intro used everyday, I saw something different.

A graphic reading "Developing Story" was used, then there was live video of a huge column of smoke in Ashland.

A grassfire broke out next to I5 in Ashland and the weather conditions were just so (100˙, 15mph winds, humidity in single digits) that the fire spread quickly. After burning for about twenty or thirty minutes, witnesses say embers were carried by the wind over the freeway into a residential neighborhood.

There the fire set over a dozen homes on fire. Hundreds of firefighters from 15 agencies and three helicopters responded to the fire. The bad news: 11 homes were completely destroyed. Residents had nearly no time to prepare and most were evacuated out the front door as the back of the homes were on fire. They had no idea. The good news: Not a single person died or was injured.

There are so many smaller shorelines within this tragedy.
-Two Ashland PD officers rushed to the scene and ran door-to-door to evacuate people.
-One home housed a teacher who had all of his lesson plans in the garage. School starts soon and he has no curriculum.
-Some homes were burned completely to the ground. The only remnants are chimneys and shells of burnt cars.
-Some homes had a few walls still standing and residents could go in and sift through the burnt remnants for possessions. Others were kept from their condemned homes.
-Many of the homes had wooden shingles and dead vegetation that fueled the fire and allowed the fire to burn as quick as it did.
-A homeless man was arrested for starting the fire. It wasn't arson because police believe it wasn't intentional.

I heard from several people that the newsroom was crazy that evening. All of the dayside workers (who should have gone home around 6) stayed for the 11:00 show and even later. At 9pm I got a call asking if I could come in early in the morning and do some live remote shots in the 5-7 morning show. Of course, the answer is yes.

I woke up at 1:30a after barely four hours of sleep and got ready for the day. I got into the newsroom before 3 to look over the previous day's scripts and press releases about the fire to prepare for the live shots. The producer had me doing what's called a "straight live" each half hour at the top and bottom of the hour between 5-7. Straight live means that the camera is on me the entire time, there's no cutaway to a different video or shot or anything. First time I've been asked to do that.

I got out to the street where the fire took place and it was still dark except for street lights. My cameraman and I ran into some technical problems we couldn't figure out how to fix, so we were a bit late for our first hit. But it finally came and it went pretty well. I did a live interview with the Information Officer for Ashland Fire and another with a Volunteer who had been at a relief site nearby offering food, water, and a place to recover for evacuees and firefighters. She had been there since 6pm and hadn't left or slept in over twelve hours.

By the time I finished all of my hits in the morning show the sun had come up and I had the chance to walk through the street that had been burned. It looked like a war zone. Homes were collapsed or completely gone. Blackened shells of cars were still parked in driveways. Morning wind blew burned magazines through the empty street. The smell of smoke hung heavy throughout the neighborhood.

It was hard to wrap my head around all that had happened and what it meant to everyone who lived there.

Later in the day, I was assigned the story of following someone who was returning to their home and going through their home and looking at their possessions. I was told the story was supposed to me "emotional, and show devastation." After asking some neighbors for help, they found a woman who would be willing to talk with me. Danna wasn't able to get into her home and had a very positive attitude. I say positive not in relation to the tragedy that hit her street, but positive for anyone. As I interviewed her, I wasn't getting the outpouring of sadness that I felt that I needed to fulfill my producers' requests. So, I kept prodding. "What did you lose?" I asked. She responded, "It's just things. They're memories. I'll be able to take them with me." Then, I asked, "But those are things that can't be replaced, does that make you upset?" Danna paused for a moment, then looked back at her garage. Her garage roof had collapsed and just about everything inside was blackened. She said, "I didn't think about it till just now. But my mom used to make all of my clothes when I was a girl. And she made me this beautiful blue cape and a matching blue hat. I had kept it all these years. But it's probably gone to ashes now…but that's life." As she said that, her voice cracked and she started crying behind her sunglasses. I felt a strong twist of guilt in selfishly asking her something I knew would cause pain. Knowing that I got the obligatory crying shot, I steered the interview into the positive as much as possible afterward and Danna followed without an reinforcement needed. Once the interview finished, I approached her to take off the mic I had pinned to her collar earlier, but she misinterpreted my movement and opened her arms for a hug. We hugged and she thanked me and I thanked her. I had much more reason to thank her: for opening up, for trusting me, for not stopping the interview, for her strength to carry on despite everything.

It's almost Fall...

I wake up every morning at 7:40 to get ready for work. Unfortunately, this happened today, Saturday, too.

My body must have gotten used to that wake-up time and just gets going at that time everyday. A little bit of a bummer on a Saturday with sleep-in potential.

The weather brought a change today, cool and completely overcast. To honor the weather indicating the transition to fall, I threw on warm clothes and turned on College Gameday.

Watching the hour-long, Season Preview Special got me real excited for the coming football season. Over the past few years I haven't been able to watch a lot of football because my dorm only had a communal TV and usually someone else would be watching something. But now I've got DVR and a beautiful HD set so I don't have to miss a thing.

Summer is still my favorite season, the sun, the music, hanging out by the pool, baseball. But Fall is good too: football, crisp weather, tailgating, and, most importantly, football.

How do they do it?

I was in the studio waiting for my hit in the show, and a package was running about a teacher named Mateo Tirrilium. During the package, the anchors are usually talking with each other and many times they'll make jokes.

One of them said "Tirrilium…isn't that number 43 on the Periodic Table?"

The other, "Actually, I think that's the amount of our federal deficit. One Tirillium dollars."

This all happens in the last 10 seconds or so and soon they're back on camera and having to say "Mr. Tirrilium" wither seriousness. I couldn't keep from snickering, so I don't know how they do it...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Updates Coming

I know it's been almost a week since I last updated the blog. I haven't forgotten, or gotten sick, or been kidnapped. It's just been a busy week.

Needless to say, I'll have a lot of updates this weekend. I can already think of seven or so topics I want to hit.

Stay tuned...

In the meantime, you can watch this story I did today. The Oak Flat Fire is a 5300 acre wildfire that's been burning for about two weeks. Last night, the fire jumped containment lines and grew 500 acres. I went up to cover one aspect of the story, but hit a dead end and had to change it up a little. I'll go into a bit more detail with this weekend's updates, but for now, here's the story.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week in Review...

It's been a workweek full of ups and downs. When I told a professor who has been a reporter, anchor, and news director that I found a job and was going to be reporting he said: Get ready for a rollercoaster of highs and lows. I've certainly been feeling some of those this week.

Rogue River Lodge Re-Opens
A historic dining lodge on Crater Lake Highway had lost popularity over the past 15 years or so, but new owners (from Walnut Creek) bought the property and renovated it. They opened the new Lodge on Wednesday, but this preview piece looked at what they aimed to do.

Medford Schools to Charge Rental Fees
In the past, the Medford School District charged some groups facility usage fees while some used it at no cost. Tuesday the District discussed the proposal of charging all groups a fee. Some non-profits and children's recreational leagues could be hit hard by the new price.
I liked doing this story because it was interesting and many of the people I needed to talk to actually wanted to talk with me. I made many calls and was able to get the interviews I needed. I also met the superintendent for Medford Schools and he was very helpful and friendly.

Later in the afternoon, a summer thunderstorm hit. This was big because we've had such hot and dry weather that the chance for wildfires goes up a whole bunch with the lightning strikes. There was over an inch of rain in a few hours, hail, and over 800 lightning strikes.

3 Bridges Program
Our General Manager, Renard, suggested this story in the morning meeting and gave me a contact for it. In the 15 minutes between when i first talked with him and when I arrived, he was able to wrangle up three clients to interview. Having everyone in the same building and having all of the interviews set up allowed me to shoot the entire package in just over an hour. This timeframe had been a goal that I'd been trying for for a while, but hadn't reached yet.

I did a folo (TV slang for follow-up) with Oregon Dept. of Forestry on what they were doing to look for fires that may have started or smoldered and were now starting because of the hundreds of lightning strikes from the day before.
After a lot of running around, changes of plans, and driving to where a fire engine was supposed to be, but wasn't there I started to head back to the station. However, it was about 2:30, I was still at least thirty minutes from the station and still hadn't shot a single frame of video.
I don't think it was my fault because I was told to go to different places by ODF, but nothing or no one was there. Still, to my producers and co-workers, the ultimate responsibility is mine. If I don't have video it's my fault.
I stopped by ODF headquarters and shot some video very quickly and got back to the station at 3:20. Not a lot of time to turn around all the stories I had that evening.
Somehow I was able to get all of the video cut and stories written and it all worked out OK.

Even though I ran into a lot of problems, I was very happy with how I handled it and how quickly I worked to make everything work. I couldn't have done it without help from some of my co-workers though. One helped write part of the story and another shot some video for me too.

I had three vosots and no packages. Which usually is a good thing. One was a folo with ODF on the fires, one was a story about Goodwill's Back to School Donation Drive, and the last was about a woman who had hundreds of thousands of dollars of property stolen from her.
I felt good about today because I worked quickly and was able to finish all of my stories and videos by 4:30. I had two live remote shots, one in the five and another in the six. I wouldn't have time to drive the 20 minutes from the Goodwill store back to the station to finish my other stories, so I had to finish everything before I left. And I was able to do it. Felt very good.
At Goodwill, I used some of the clothes as props during my live shot and felt pretty good about how I performed. Unfortunately those videos aren't online because our station has a policy not to showcase the "air check" (an in-house recording of the show) stalled and couldn't be used. This happens several times a week. But believe me, it was one of my better performances.

This one was a bit tougher, I worked on a story about people who dredge rivers in Southern Oregon; that is, they suck up dirt and ground at the bottom of the riverbed and send it through a sifter looking for gold. A state senator wants to ban out of state dredgers because they use public land and are a burden on law enforcement. I was able to interview the lawmaker and an out of state dredger, but the two sides of the story turned out to be a "He said, he said" argument. Both were on opposite ends of the spectrum and maintained the other was completely wrong. It's a difficult story to tell fairly.
Getting video was tough and I got a late jump on the story and it ended up being not as great as I thought it could have been. It was a not-so-solid way to end up the week, but since I'm working the weekend I'll have a few more chances...

Not Quite the Weekend Yet...

This week is a little in different in that I'm working as a reporter on Saturday and Sunday. Erin Maxson usually anchors and produces the 6 and 11 o'clock shows on the weekend, but her family is in town and she's taking the days off. So Steven will step in to anchor and produce and I will be reporting.

Thankfully I was told about this change about a month ago so it didn't come as a surprise. While I will miss the usual weekend, I'll be able to take Monday and Tuesday off, then go back for a shortened week on Wednesday.

I have heard from several people that the weekend shift is a lot more relaxed. There are less people running around the newsroom and it seems like it will be a little more enjoyable atmosphere.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Southern Oregon Adventures I: Crater Lake

Sunday was fantastic. We jumped off a cliff into Crater Lake.

Five of us from Newswatch12 (Kaylin - morning anchor, Emily - 11 anchor, Adam - photographer, Kelley - 11 producer, and myself) took a day trip to Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US, and one of the deepest in the world. It's also a brilliant color of blue.

After the 90 minute drive, we were pleasantly surprised to learn we had free entry because it was National Park Weekend, and no park was charging for entrance. Great!

We drove to the top and spent some time at a couple of the lookout spots. The lake is gorgeous. It was formed when a volcano erupted millions of years ago and the explosion left the crater that was eventually filled with rain and snowfall. It's the only body of water in the US, and maybe the world, that's only source of water is rain and snowfall. And because the lake is so deep, most of the colors are absorbed by the water and blue is the only color of light reflected back. That's why it's so much bluer than other lakes.

After driving halfway around the 6-mile wide lake, we got to a point where we could hike down a trail to the water. So we hiked down one mile and got to the water. Then we got to the cliff.

There was about 50 people there (a number much higher than usual), some jumped and some watched and some just took pictures. We had already made up our mind: we were jumping into the lake.

Standing at the top of the cliff and peering over was pretty terrifying. We were maybe 25 feet above the water. And add a minor fear of heights, and it's not the easiest thing in the world to do.

Sure enough we all ended up jumping.

Kelley and Emily (roommates)



and me.

The water was freezing cold, but it was a fantastic thing to do.


On the way home, we stopped at a cool looking waterfall just off the freeway.

It was beautiful to see and hear and feel the water rushing by.

There was a designated area to stop and take pictures, but sure enough, we hopped that fence. Well, most of us did. Kaylin ninja-ed her way through the fence.

We stayed there for about half an hour, soaking up all the beauty. It was a great day.

Friday and Saturday

This weekend was spectacular.

Friday about fifteen or so people from 12 went out to celebrate our morning weather girl's, Kristen's, birthday. We went to Four Daughters, the Irish Pub where I usually play trivia then to Howiee's for a few more drinks and good music. We closed Howiee's down at 2.

Saturday I spent the morning running errands, getting a haircut, and having lunch at Costco with Faris. After a quick swim and quick nap, I went to a barbecue hosted by the anchor of channel 5. There was a good mix of 12ers and 5ers there and we ate burgers and watched the Giants game (extra innings win!) and hung out in the backyard.

One of the more memorable parts of the night came when rain started coming down from the sky. It was a little at first, then got more heavy. It was still in the 80s, so no one ran for cover. In the Eastern distance, lightening lit up the sky for at least 15 minutes. The silhouette of one of the mountains was lit up while lightening struck behind it. It was pretty cool.

Friday and Saturday were fun, but Sunday was even better...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Staying Local

Every day that I work I try to be successful.

Some days success means getting good shots out of a story that doesn't have good visual opportunities.
Some days it means getting to the bottom of a story and then telling it well.
Some days it means making a not-immediately-entertaining story entertaining.

For the past few days, I wanted to be successful at managing my time.

Every day there is a race against the clock. Getting the story, getting the video, getting to the second story, getting back to the station, cutting video, logging interviews, writing stories, re-editing video, getting to live shots. Every day the show will start right at 5 and 6 and being late is unacceptable, so you have to manage your time and be as efficient as possible without skipping any details.

Driving to Ashland is at least 20 minutes each way, and Grants Pass is more than 30 minutes each way. That time really adds up and makes that deadline come much quicker.

Luckily, three of my four stories Thursday and Friday were in Medford and I was able to use that extra time to make my videos and scripts a little better.

Also, it helped keep my stress levels a bit lower. I've already got about a dozen grey hairs above my hairs. I'd like to keep that number as low as possible.

Breaking News

There's quite a bit of dark humor in the news business. One saying: "If it bleeds, it leads."

Unfortunately it's true.

Thursday morning right before the daily 10am production meeting, the "Squawk Box" (scanner that hits all police, fire, and emergency frequencies) reported a structure fire in Medford. Because I was on call, I had a camera already loaded and ready in one of the station's cars, and I took off.

I went to the residence fire and by the time I got there, the flames were extinguished. I was the first media on scene though.

It was a home that caught on fire. Fire officials say the fire started in the back of the home and set off the smoke alarm. Crews were on scene two minutes after getting the call and quickly knocked down the fire. Thankfully, much of the house was still standing.

After shooting video from the street and sidewalk, one of the firefighters, who I had met and interviewed two weeks prior, motioned for me to come to back of the house. He showed me where the fire had started and I shot video of the burned studs and wood.

When I returned to the front of the house, a man said, "Hey, what channel are you with?" But it wasn't the typical inquisitive tone I was used to. It was accusatory. He continued, "That's my property. You can't just go on to my property without my permission. This is a very rough day. You don't have any (expletive) permission to go into my backyard and shoot video of my (expletive) burned house. You can't use that. I don't want to be interviewed and you can't use that video. You don't have any (expletive) right."

Wow. I knew that some people wouldn't like me since I was media, but I wasn't expecting that.

I told him who I was with, that I would check with my producers about the ethics of using that particular footage, and that I was beckoned to the backyard by the firefighters.

From my point of view, the fire crews have jurisdiction over the property. They knew what I was doing there (and the other two TV stations and still photog from the paper) and they knew whether or not it was legal or right for us to go back there, and invited us anyway.

Either way, I used the footage in this story.

Good Friday

A few weeks ago I did a "preview" about free dental care in Grants Pass. The actual event took place in Medford on Friday and will happen in Grants Pass on Saturday. I suggested the story to our Assignment Editor (who looks for and assigns stories to reporters) and she was able to get interviews for me for the Medford date.

I've realized that I really like covering these softer stories. Some reporters really like the harder, investigate, breaking news stories about shootings, conspiracy, or death. But I like the happier, heart-warming type stories. Maybe it's a phase, maybe not.

But I liked covering this story. Everyone involved was willing to talk (a far cry from investigative interviews) and wanted to help and give information.

Also, because I knew a little about this story, I felt more comfortable reporting on it and could get more done when I was out in the field.

It was a good day, a great Friday, and a fantastic way to start the weekend.

Too Personal?

We received word from KRCR (Redding TV station) that a police officer was leaving the Redding PD because he had been told that he was losing job, then told he was getting it back, then told he was losing it again, then told told they could keep him on. This went on for a few months until he got fed up and started looking for other jobs.

He moved to Medford with his wife and two kids and applied for a job here.

I got lucky enough to cover this story.

After finishing the package, I'm not sure that I did the best thing in creating it. It's a very personal and individual story. It doesn't really apply to the greater Medford community.

What this story taught me is: Yes, this is a nice, happy, heart-warming (possibly) story. But it doesn't really matter to the Joe Schmo who's watching in Klamath Falls.

Every story has relevance to every single viewer. It's my job to make each of my stories relevant.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bingham-Sandberg Wedding

Steven Sandberg is the reporter who I met nearly a year and a half ago as we both were student reporters for our schools at the Conference Basketball tournament. We kept in contact since then and I chimed in on his sports blog. Eventually, he was the one who let me know about the job opening at Newswatch 12, put in a good word for me, and basically got me this job.

On Saturday, August 7, 2010, he married his high school sweetheart Amanda Bingham.

Steven and Amanda took part in a contest for a free wedding from a local radio station and won thanks to their friends and family voting online and getting the over 50% of the vote (especially impressive because there were about a dozen couples in the contest).

Anywho, I was lucky enough to be invited to the wedding and went with about a dozen other Newswatch12-ers. It was fun.

First, the ceremony took place at the Riversedge Hotel in Shady Cove, a small town about a half hour from Medford. The Riversedge is, well, right on the River's edge and the sound of peaceful rapids of the Rogue River were a beautiful background to the wedding. The outdoor ceremony was shaded by tall redwoods so it wasn't too hot. And it was only an 11 minute ceremony, fantastic! Steven and Amanda were so happy, it made everyone else happy too. Cheesy, but true.

Second, Faris, the web editor for the station, and I carpooled and made our way to Medford for the reception. We were the first ones there. How did this happen? We were certainly not the first to leave and we didn't speed back or anything. Weird. A few other 12 people were next to arrive and after about an hour and a half, the wedding party showed up.

Third, we ate and toasted and tried to catch bouquets and garters, but then the party really started when DJ Hype (provided by the radio station) started spinning some music and got everyone dancing. The libations helped.

Fourth, I battle danced a ten-year-old. Lil Hype. The DJ's son. This went on for a good three or four minutes. I'm writing this on Wednesday and I believe that I'm no longer sore from all the crazy moves. I lost, but only because I gave up.

Fifth, eventually the party had to end and some us went to Kaliedoscope (will be referred to as K-Scope in reality and in the blog from here on). I got a hawaiian. Pretty sure KScope is some of the best pizza I've every had. I'll be back there often.

Sixth, an even smaller group of us went to Kelley and Emily's (a producer and an anchor/reporter from the station who live together) place. There we discovered a common interest in Jurassic Park and have since been quoting the movie and adding vague quotes from the film to newscasts all week. Yup.

Seventh, after watching the 11 newscast, we headed to Elements which touts itself as a Tapas Bar & Lounge. But most people call it: The Classiest Bar in Medford. I would probably agree them. They had a late happy hour which includes $5 cocktails and appetizers. I ordered one of each. Some of the crew and talent who were working the 11 oclock show came by and we all hung out.

Eighth, we probably left around one or so.

It was a fantastic day.

Juicy Story

I'm taking down Washington politics in this story.

In our morning meeting the producers, anchors, and reporters throw around stories and we decide what will be the lead and what angle each story will receive. Tuesday morning we glossed over a story about a local district being awarded a portion of a one-million dollar grant. Cool. But on second look, we realized that the district was getting one-million for itself, and it was one of 120 or so districts across the country, each receiving a million dollars. Cool! What's the money going towards? Saving teacher jobs maybe? According to the press release, "improving teacher quality through intensive professional development." It looked to us like Federal Government was giving $115 million to teachers to go on retreats. Is that the best way to spend $115 million in schools right now?

I interviewed the man who wrote the winning grant from Medford and he immediately brought up the fact that this grant could be perceived in the "money misspent" light. He told me that the money was ear-marked (his words) for this purpose and stressed that one hundred and fifteen million really isn't a lot of money against the entire national budget. While that may be true, that could pay for thousands of teachers to keep their jobs or improve classrooms or new facilities or about a half dozen other problems with public education. It's hard to justify spending that kind of money for sending teachers on trips.

After a bit of investigating I found out that the money is appropriated by Congress each year. The next step was to contact Oregon's Senators and the Congressman from Medford. None of the politicians had a comment, but Congressman Walden (a Republican) did send a letter he wrote in support of the program.

Writing the story was difficult because I wanted to be balanced and not place blame on any one person. That wouldn't be fair. Also, the program did have some merits. Test scores for students whose teachers took part in the program went up.

It was a juicy story with a lot of sidebars and information and questions. Hopefully there's more out there I can find.

I'm finding out.

I'm finding out that my job is primarily: Journalist. I've realized that while I'm a camera-operator, reporter, writer, and editor, I am foremost a journalist. My job is to get credible information on a subject and then tell that story in an understandable and entertaining way.

What I'm working on is doing a better job of getting to the bottom of a story. Asking all the right questions so that nothing is left unturned. Thinking on the fly, "what's next?" or "so what?" and then finding a way to answer that. Sometimes it means prodding past the point of comfort, not taking another person's word at face value, and being eager to get more information. This is taking some getting used.

Those are usually qualities that I don't see in myself and need to push myself to put into action. I don't like forcing people to tell me something they want. I initially trust someone's word. I'm usually satisfied with whatever someone tells me. So it's a struggle to put my profession as a journalist above my personal tendencies.

I'm not sure if it's a "killer instinct" that most reporters or journalists naturally have or if it is something they are able to turn on or off at the end of the day. I'm not sure how it manifests in myself. But I'm finding out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Missed Opportunities

One of the things that I'm very quickly learning about being a Reporter is that the stories I report on must be filled out and explored by me. Not all of the contacts I need will be handed on a silver platter, not all of the information will be readily available, not everyone is going to be willing to talk, and if they are, not everyone is going to say something interesting and useful. It's up to me find all of the pieces and to fill it out.

Thursday was a bit of a slow news day and I was out with one story, waiting for a second story to break and then go off and cover that. I got a call from the station saying Medford Police released a statement saying a man was arrested earlier that morning after he took Meth, started cutting down the tree in his yard, then flew off the deep end and cut down trees in his neighbbors' yards.

I took off to street where the man was arrested to get some cool looking video of fallen trees and huge stumps where they once stood. When I got there, I saw one tree that had been cut down, but it wasn't nearly the visual I had expected. I called back to the station and told that it didn't look fantastic or even special.

Our competing channels actually ended up taking the Chainsaw Rampage story and made it their lead in the 5 and the 6. They used interviews with neighbors, the man's wife, and shots of the cleanup.

The next day I was approached by two of my producers and we talked about how I missed the story and what I could do next time to not miss it. Talking with neighbors, calling Medford Police, double checking I had the right address. All things I could have done and will do next time.

On Friday I covered a story about an outbreak of a Norwalk-virus at an assisted living home. I called up the administrator at the home and said that I'd like to ask her some questions about the home's response to the virus' spread, but she told me that the newspaper article that ran the day before had several errors and that they were reevaluating how they dealt with the media. Eventually, she directed me to her corporate office. I called corporate about a dozen times and left a handful of messages, but got no response.

This was problematic because I was supposed to package this story and it takes two points of view to make a package. I had the County Health Department, but it wasn't enough.

When talking to the producers about the dead-end I ran into with the home, they recommended going on-site and interviewing some who was out and about. And if the community didn't want me to, they could kick me out. So next time, it's ok to play a little aggressive and take some chances.

Next time I'll work to not miss any opportunities.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tough Stuff

Today I had a taste of what is one of the worst parts of being a reporter: talking to a family member of a recently deceased person on camera.

I try to write this with as much humility as possible.

The deaths occurred about three weeks ago, and Newswatch 12 reporter, Steven Sandberg, was able to talk to the uncle of an 18-year-old girl who was killed in a car crash. Today, the driver of the car that the girl was in was charged with manslaughter. I was assigned to the story and was asked to follow up with the uncle and get some reaction from him on camera.

There's a lot more to the story, here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Police Practice

I got a great story today. Fifteen police officers from four city's police departments were taking in a simulation of a school shooting as the finished a two-day training on how to respond to an "active shooter." I got to cover the officers as they simulated searching the building and taking down gunmen holed up in a room.

It was like being in a video game. The ones where the SWAT team moves as a group and barges in on rooms and fires off rounds because no lives really depended on it.

The gunfire and shouted orders gave great opportunities for nat sounds (natural sounds; makes for a much better video because it adds audio and helps the viewer feel like they are there.) I was lucky and my story wasn't aired until 6, so I had a little extra time to spend editing the package to highlight those sounds and get the right visuals over the narration.

It was a great story to cover and I'm happy I was assigned it.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Underage Labor

Underage labor is usually bad. But this is the good kind: http://kdrv.com/news/local/183451

It was cool to meet kids who were passionate about a career choice and devoted their whole summer to it. The construction system they were using reminded me of the work I did in New Orleans. There were a few masters who knew all the secrets and were patient with the majority of us who didn't know anything but we're willing to learn and did so pretty quickly.

And they did some good work, the finished dock looked great. And I can't wait to see the trailheads they finish.

I had two stories due in both the 5 and 6 and it was a crunch to get it all done, but I got it all done in time, and actually a bit ahead of time. I'm getting faster, not where I want to be, but faster. Good stuff.

El Equipo Fantástico

That's our team name. The Fantastic Team.

Burt Reynolds was originally asked to play Han Solo in Star Wars.
When McDonald's trains its employees, it tells them that the best way to put out a shortening fire is to smother it with frozen french fries.
Juneau is the largest city in America, in terms of area.
Butterflies don't fly in the morning because their wings are damp.
Before twinkies were filled with vanilla creme, they were filled with banana creme.
There is a regulation size half court basketball court in the Matterhorn.
Before American Express credit cards were green, they were purple.
There is the most static electricity during the winter.
Venus Flytraps eat mostly ants.
Fred Flintstone drank Cactus Cooler, Coconut Cola, and Sabertooth Tiger's Milk.
The White House was grey before it was burned down. It was also called The Presidential Mansion.
Before they are roasted, coffee beans are green.
Slinkies are made up of 80 feet of wire.

We came in second place. $20 gift certificate.
After two second place and one first place finishes, our team has accumulated $70 in three weeks. Nice.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hanging Out

I've been hanging out with some of the people who work at the station this weekend. On Saturday, a group of about seven or eight of us went to a bar in downtown Ashland. There was a band playing covers and adding some great blues guitar too. We were there for a good three hours or so just hanging out and talking and laughing.

Today, Sunday, I got a call from Faris the web editor for the station, saying he and a few other people from work were going to see a movie, so I joined them. Faris and I saw "Salt" with Kaylin, the morning anchor, and her friend, Jackie. I actually really liked the movie. It was a spy thriller with a lot of twists and unexpected turns. After the movie we went to Kaliedoscope, a delicious pizza joint where Grateful Dead memorabilia adorn the walls and servers and chefs wear tie-dye shirts. We talked about the movie for a full hour afterward, trying to make sense of all the intricacies. It was that good. We also debated whether or not cinnamon is the best spice. Faris believes you can put it on any food. We're still debating.


Friday was a very good day.

I only had one assignment: Wine Marketing. I looked at different ways that wineries were bringing people in. Those of us in the Newsroom had seen that they were offering events with music or food or art. It was a fun story to cover.

After traveling to two wineries I got back to the station and cut my package and vosots. The producers had me fronting my stories in a live remote at a third winery in Medford. This winery has a summer concert series and a farmer's market on summer Fridays, so I felt right at home. The 6:30 show will sometimes recap a human interest type of story at the top of their show. The 6:30 producer wanted me to stay at my live location and give another hit. So, I had three live remotes.

They all went pretty great. I messed up a few times, as usual, but I felt much more confident in what I was talking about and it helped me to relax and, hopefully, be more natural. I had a good time doing these remotes, learning about the wineries, and telling the story.

It was a great way to start the weekend. http://kdrv.com/news/local/183211