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.

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