Thursday, September 30, 2010


I've been a passionate Stanford Cardinal fan since I was a young'n. My family and I have had a season tickets to Stanford football games for as long as I can remember. And, for me, college football and tailgating is synonymous with BBQing and throwing the football around at The Farm.

The Cardinal and I have struggled through some difficult years (I'm looking at you Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris) but the Jim Harbough era has been a different story, especially this year.

I've been watching as much of the Cardinal's games as possible and think this new team is something special. And a lot of people are taking notice. On Saturday, Stanford will play Oregon in Eugene. College Gameday will be there, the game will be the primetime game on ABC, and many articles have been written about the new-look Cardinal and Harbough's effect on the team.

Two have stood out to me.

The first as about Stanford's leader, Owen Marecic. He plays fullback. And inside linebacker. Starting in both positions. He is a true athlete. This article about Marecic was in Sports Illustrated last week and praised his effort and skill. I'm glad that I get SI in the mail now. In the past, I would read the magazine after my Grandpa, Ben Camera, had finished reading them. It was a nice tradition to get a stack of SI magazines. However, he is a Cal fan and I'm not 100% sure that when I got that issue, the Marecic article would have still been in the mag. Just kidding, he knows a good football team and good player when he sees one.

Stanford Football: Character, Cruelty
I'm not sure how I feel about the new Cardinal. They're merciless. They go for the kill. They wear black. They're almost a villain team.

This isn't the Stanford I'm used to, but it's a Stanford I'll continue to root for.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Rewind (9/20-9/24)

It was a good week at work. Got to have a pretty wide variety of stories and even got a live shot in the 6:30. Good stuff.

Localized a story about the FDA considering approving the sale of genetically engineered salmon. It would be the first genetically modified meat or fish available for consumption.
What might be most disturbing about the whole deal is that experts don't expect the FDA to require special labelling to distinguish the modified fish from natural fish.
Here's a blog entry I wrote about the whole FrankenFish experience.

Covered the dedication of North Medford High School. Was hoping to have a live shot at the top of the 6:30 just as the festivities were getting going, but technical obstacles didn't let that happen. Either way, it was a fun story to cover. In the past two weeks I've covered two stories at SOU, one at N. Medford High, and I'm expecting to cover one at S. Medford High next week. Maybe I'll soon have the Education beat?

Ashland is a bit like Diet Berkeley, it's fairly radical a bit artsy, but it's not nearly as hippie as Berk. On Wednesday, Ashland held Car Free Day. Officials from the city and from the local bus transit system closed down one block in downtown Ashland and hled a bike caravan down a main street. It was all in an effort to raise awareness about Shared Roads, roads that mandate bikes and cars share a lane of traffic. The story didn't get posted to the web, but it was pretty fun to cover and I shot a pretty cool standup*.

On Thursday, MADGE (Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement) released a statement that they had conducted a three-month long undercover drug sting operation and they had issued arrest warrants for at least 23 people. Of those 23, 12 were women. Medford Police say that number is much higher than what they had been used to. I interviewed a counselor from OnTrack, a drug addiction recovery center. She said that that percentage of women did not surprise her. She said drug addiction is a disease that affects women as often as men and that its s social stigma that tells us to expect drug users to be men. It was good to talk with her about these kind of issues. It reminded me of topics and stories we covered in Sociology classes that challenged our stereotypes and expectations. It seems as though the classes I took in college and the events that I took part in, encouraged me to think differently about things that I hadn't thought differently about before: gender roles, stereotypes, expectations. It was refreshing to talk to someone who was so upfront about these topics.
In the evening, I went to SOU for a story about their new class of freshman and how their student body may be it's biggest ever. Here's a blog entry about that story and thinking back to SMC times.

Fridays are excellent. Mostly because I cover one story in the afternoon and then get to shoot football in the evening. In the afternoon I previewed a fair-style event called the HarvestFest. I got there at the right time and saw organizers performing a test run of the Pumpkin Launcher. It was pretty spectacular. My producer wanted me to do something different, a look-live vosot. Now that might sound like a foreign language, and in a way, it is. Well, let's break it down:
Look-Live is a standup that goes at the front and back of a package or story. It's used when a reporter won't be able to front (introduce) their story in the show. The point is to have shot that looks as though you're doing a live remote shot, but wouldn't be able to because of timing or technology issues.
Vosot is just the form of the story. Usually look-lives are used in packages, but because this story isn't deep enough to package it was simply a vosot.
Anywho, I shot the look-live vosot at the HarvestFest grounds then headed out to football.
I love shooting football. It's exciting and relaxing at the same time. At SMC I shot a lot of basketball games and it was almost always more exciting to shoot the game rather than just be in attendance. The same is certainly true at the football games I've covered in the Rogue Valley

*A standup comes in the middle of a package where the reporter shows up on screen to explain part of the story. I'll probably write more on standups soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Getting a "real job," and especially, an on-camera job, means that I have to start looking professional. Some of you may have seen me pre-"real job" with extra hair on my head and face.

Nowadays I have to keep the hair trimmed and shave my face everyday. Sure it looks nice, but I hate it.

Also, I'm used to dressing in TShirts, shorts, sandals, and glasses. On camera and in the newsroom, it's dress shirts and ties, and tidy hair.

I've been told by several people that dressing this way makes me look older. Last week I was at a live remote shot running through my lines when I woman came up behind me and asked: "Excuse me, my friend and I were wondering (motions behind her to her friend) how many years you have been out of college." I smiled and asked her what their two guesses were. She said she thought one year and her friend thought five years. I told them I had graduated only a handful of months ago in May. She said she guessed one year because I was reading my lines and practicing furiously.

On Thursday I stopped to get coffee as a jot of energy before editing my story quick-style and I was talking with the girls who were making my drink. Turns out one of them is actually from Pittsburg, CA, but that's a different story. I told them I was new in town and that this was my first job out of college. They were surprised and asked how old I was. I told them to guess my age. They guessed 26.

I talked to a few co-workers about the difference between what I looked like and what age I actually am. They said they could see how people would guess 26 as my age.


Maybe it makes sense. I've already started getting grey hairs, but they're short ones since I've got to keep my hair trimmed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Back to College

Twice in the past two weeks I've been lucky enough to cover stories at Southern Oregon University (SOU). First it was a story about student leaders going through emergency training. More recently, I looked at SOU's enrollment numbers that might be the highest they've ever had.

Thursday was move-in day for the freshman and when I went to the Ashland campus to cover the story at nighttime, the students were right in the middle of their Orientation sessions and Welcome activities...something I am more than familiar with after three years of being an Orientation Leader at SMC.

And I was happy to cover the story, but more happy to be back in that kind of college atmosphere. I love college. Everything about it seems great, young adults moving away from home and taking on academic, social, moral/ethical challenges. It's a chance to grow and change and explore. Also, there's the lack of "real world" responsibility and abundance of friends and fun times everywhere. It's fantastic!

There's something magical about move-in day. The realization of the impending brevity of college is finally settling in. These new students (Can't call them "kids." They're not. Most are 18 and are now living on their own) are giddy at the thought of not having chaperones or parents. How could you not love being around something like that? Well, I'm sure there are a lot of reasons that you might not love that, but I usually don't feel them.

Anywho, it as great to be around that atmosphere at SOU. I can definitely see myself working at a college at some point in the future. Maybe working in video, athletics, or student affairs, but I'd certainly want to work with students, helping them find their way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Follow Friday: Kevin Navarro, Grinding, and Running Music

Starting something new, every Friday I'll post links to three things that I am constantly checking out and can't get enough of. It's all in the name of using social media to pass along interesting, and sometimes important, info!

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My brother, Kevin, is in his third and final year (yes, third and final) as a Political Science major at UC Davis, but for one quarter he won't be at Davis, but in Washington DC. He's studying at the UC in DC program and will be taking classes, interning, and exploring in Washington.

Kevin has started a blog and has been updating it everyday (something I can't say for myself) and it's been really entertaining to see what he's been up to as he interns with Raben Group, a political consulting firm (I think).

Check out his blog, it's got candid takes on his living situation, his work, politics, DC, and, occasionally, Bay Area sports.

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There are a few things that I'm really curious and passionate about, and this web video combines two of them: 1.) Digital documentary films, and 2.) The world that sports can open up.

This is an eight-minute short film that overviews a football camp for high schoolers. While it shows some emotional, pivotal moments filled with passion, it's also shot and put together in a beautiful way. Several of the comments praising the video come from self-proclaimed, non-football fans who can't get over the beauty and inspiration of the film.

I've probably watched it six or seven times in the past two weeks. Check it out.

Nothin' but a Grind - documentary from Richard Cameron White on Vimeo.

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I love this song! Been listening to it for a few weeks now and I can't get it out of my head.
At work, Emily and I will "clap-clap, clap" the beat and start singing along.
PLEASE NOTE: I don't particularly like the video, but the song is excellent!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The New North

Throughout Summer, the talk of the town was the new South Medford High School.

However, North Medford spent the past four years renovating buildings all over campus. Tuesday, the school dedicated it's new buildings with a big ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 6:30 NewsTeam initially planned to have a live shot at the school at 6:30 right as the party was getting started. About 200 people were there, the band was playing, the ribbon was about to get cut...LIVE SHOT GOLD! Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as we wouldn't have time to get a live van there.

But the high school was very nice, and I liked covering the story. The campus was beautiful and the students have some great places to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Monday I covered local reaction to the possibility of genetically engineered salmon being available for sale and consumption. If the FDA approves the modified fish, it would be the first genetically engineered fish or meat product on the market.

One of the ways that we work on stories is to take national stories and localize them to make them more interesting. For this story, I talked to a co-owner of a real cool store called The Butcher Shop that sells local beef, pork, fish, and produce. The co-owner was incredibly willing to talk with me candidly about his opinion on the genetically engineered fish. We tried getting in contact with the FDA to get two sides of the story and make it more balanced. The FDA would not talk with us (or any other local affiliate) but pointed us in the direction of our national news affiliate. ABC produced video and soundbites on the story that we ended up using.

There already is modified fruits and vegetables in the market, and if it passes, GE salmon wouldn't be available for about two years. However, critics are concerned because it appears that the FDA might not require special labels to signify the difference between GE salmon and natural salmon. There would be no extra labeling, reportedly, because the salmon are so genetically similar.

Last Week: (9/13 - 9/17)

I got called in early to head out to a wildfire that was burning near the city of Gold Hill about fifteen minutes north of Medford. The fire broke out late Sunday and the station called in reporters to come in to work early so we could have coverage all day. I got in to work around noon and did stories for the 5 and 6 shows, then went out again to do a third story for the 11. The fire changed a lot over the day; officials said they had only a little containment in the morning, but the weather stayed overcast and relatively cool and by the afternoon, there was hardly any smoke coming from the fire site.
For my nightside story, I went to firelines with crews as the performed cleanup operations between 8pm and sunrise. Here's the beginning of the 11 newscast from Monday the 13th.

I was set up with a story and was on my way out the door when the scanner reported a fire in a barn in the middle of a grass field. I stuck around to hear if it evolved into anything else. The scanner said there were reports of explosions at the barn. I had my story. I went out to the barn after ODF had knocked down and contained the blaze. I got back at just about 5:30, and wrote and edited a story on the fire for the 6, 6:30, and then packaged the story for the 11.

I was called in early again! This time to head out to Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland. The Resident Advisors were going through emergency training, with help from the Ashland Fire Department. AFD set up realistic scenarios to give RAs a better sense of what they may go through during an emergency. I liked working the story because it dealt with college level students and most of them were the over-involved type that I was a few months ago. The story also offered some pretty good video opportunities.

Called in early again!! For the fourth time in nine work days! Sometimes it gives me overtime, so it's not a totally bad deal.
I was, however, sent out to Klamath Falls about an hour and a half from Medford. We have a station in KF that used to be staffed by a full time reporter, but now it just operates as a remote place to edit and work. However, I had never used the online program that sends videos from KF to our main station in Medford, so the decision was made that I would shoot my two stories in KF, drive back and edit them from the 5 and 6.
One story was about the KF Sheriff's Office. The office sustained over $1million dollars in cuts that forced them to limit the number of inmates in their jail and lay off deputies. The county jail has been at its maximum capacity for a while and when criminals are arrested, they have no where to go and are released that day.
A second story dealt with the US Senate giving $10million dollars for drought relief to the Klamath Basin. The area has seen its worst drought since 2001. That money will go to farmers who have been asked to idle their land and to deepen wells that have dried up because of the drought.
The drive to KF was long, but beautiful. I spend part of the time ghost-writing my story so when I got back around 3:00 (way late to turn two stories for the evening shows) I had a small headstart. Thankfully, the producers were nice enough to schedule only story in the 5 and make the other "New at 6:00" and I got it all in.

I headed out to downtown Medford where there was a report of a stabbing earlier in the day. As soon as I got there, I started talking a few neighbors who were out on their porch. But before I got more than a few sentences in with them, a man pulled me to the side and said he saw the whole thing. He told me he was the one who committed the stabbing. When some people see news people they will go ahead and shmooze them up and say or do anything to get on camera and get a little attention. This guy seemed like he might fall into that category. I didn't initially trust him and was trying to get rid of him. After a minute or so, what he said matched up with the small amount of info we had. He told me where the stabbing happened, why it happened (personal argument), why he stabbed him (the victim was drunk, challenged him to a fight, and started attacking him). The alleged stabber said he had just come from the Police Department and they released him because it was self-defense. Right then a cop car drove by and the cop and the man exchanged glances with each other. As the cop got to the end of the street, the man said, "Watch, he's going to turn left." When the cop did, the man told me, "Oh (expletive)! He knows where the knife is." He started getting nervous and said he had to go. Before he left, he said, now I don't want you putting my face or my name on the news unless the police release it. But he hadn't told me his name yet, so I asked him what it was. He got nervous again, told me a name and the walked away quickly. I wasn't sure what to believe, but at that time, I thought he was telling the truth.
I interviewed a neighbor about his reaction to the crime and headed out.
Sure enough, on Saturday, Medford PD released details about the stabbing and the man's story and name matched up.

Later on Friday, I got to shoot football for The Blitz. I was sent to Ashland High's home game. It was their first game at home since their bleachers had been burned in an arson fire two months prior. The bleachers were remodeled and re-opened to a welcome crowd for the game. I got some video and sound for a short VOSOT in the 11.

The game was great too. Ashland dominated the first half. They were 0-2 going into Friday's game, but they moved some personell around. Their starting QB moved to Wideout and ended up paying off. They ran a Wildcat-style play were he received a lateral and threw downfield for a 60-yard touchdown. Later in the half, he caught a screen pass near the sidelines and bowled over a few defenders for a long touchdown. It was good to see Ashland win the first game in their new home.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Southern Oregon Adventures III: Toketee Falls and Hot Springs

On Saturday, September 11, five of us made a day trip to Toketee Falls and Toketee Hot Springs. The five included co-workers Emily, Kelley, and Adam, and Kelley's sister, Shannon.

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A short half-mile hike brought us to the falls.

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Adam and Shannon ventured out to a fallen log that bridged over a river.

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The falls!

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A huge 8-ft pipe ran next to the parking lot. There were quite a few leaks in it.
It looked like it was from a movie scene and could explode at any second.

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The drive was two hours but we listened to good music to make it pass more quickly.

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We stopped at Phil's Frosty in Shady Cove.
Home of some of the classiest dining experience featuring the finest cuisine on the Rogue River.

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After the trip, we watched a recording of the Ohio State v. Miami game.
Emily (far right) went to college at Otterbein, a tiny liberal arts school
about twenty minutes from Columbus. She's basically a Buckeye.
I'm a Tressel and Pryor fan, so it worked out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Insightful and Inspiring

The Oak Knoll Fire completely destroyed 11 homes without warning a few weeks ago. The fire jumped from house to house and several of the people were evacuated out the front of the house while the back of the house was still burning. In those 11 homes, most of the possession were left behind and destroyed.

In 2007 and 2008, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to New Orleans to perform hurricane relief work there. Our class (yes, it was an academic class requiring reading, writing, and creating multimedia projects) focused on having dialogue with the people we worked with. Many times during the day we would stop work just to listen to what the New Orleanians had seen and felt and what they thought about it all. What surprised me was how positive and how strong they were despite all that that they had gone through. Their homes had been flooded and sat underwater for weeks while they received little help. Their neighbors went to the Superdome and saw people die. Some lost just about everything they had in their homes and didn't have a clear idea on what their next step would be. It floored me how positive and welcoming they felt about the help they received and the loss of their possessions.

In January 2006, about four months after the storm, Rosie Boitmann talked with some of our Saint Mary's people about her experience with Katrina.

When I was at the scene of the Oak Knoll Fire, I couldn't help drawing parallels between what was left after that fire and what was left in New Orleans after the storm. Some homes were completely destroyed, some were mostly destroyed. Some homes had possessions still inside, burned or covered in collapsed walls or roofs. It looked like a warzone.

I interviewed one woman, Danna Gustafson, the day after the fire and her positive outlook was incredibly similar to the people we met in New Orleans.

On Wednesday, Sept. I covered a fundraiser held for those affected by the Oak Knoll Fire. I was blown away by how the community rallied behind those residents. Businesses donated items, people opened their wallets, and, maybe most importantly, people were there to listen and offer emotional support.

I spoke with a homeowner who lost her home in the fire in that piece and she said some beautiful things about her experience. Here is a log of some of most insightful and inspiring things she said during our conversation:

"It's just really wonderful to be here with the community members and see them coming around and rallying around all the families. It's just been wonderful"

"It's not fun to have your whole house and all your belongings go away and it just seems to be a kind of innate compasion in people's just wonderful."

"Its just wonderful to see a community binding together, not just a neighborhood and not just your family and friends and personal support group, but a the community at large, so it's been an honor."

"I think we take courage from one another and it makes us hopeful."

"I know there's been a lot of conversation about the victims of the Oak Knoll Fire, but I don't want to be a victim. I don't feel like I was victimized."

"People are...they rise to the occassion, they come along and support you...maybe you don't realize that people care as much as they do."

"Barn Fire -- Explosions Reported"

I came into work on Tuesday at the usual 2:30 time. The Assignment Board had me scheduled to travel to Grants Pass to do a story about how this year's cooler weather created a poor Pear season and would force the city to cancel its annual Pear Picking Festival. Usually citizens can go to the community garden and pick pears for free, but the pears just didn't take off. The person I would be interviewing was only going to be available between 1-3:30, so I needed to head up to Grants Pass pretty quickly.

I got my gear together, filled up my water bottle, and printed out directions. I was all set to go but over the scanner we heard: "Barn Fire -- Explosions Reported"..."The barn is surrounded by grassland. ODF (Oregon Dept. of Forestry) has dispatched helicopters and engines to the scene."

In our eyes, this clearly was going to be a bigger story so my assignment changed. The past month has seen the Oak Knoll Fire that destroyed 11 homes a few weeks prior and The Blackwell Hill Fire that started on Sunday. Both started in fairly remote areas but travelled quickly through wildland.

I left immediately and got to the remote barn about 45 minutes later. By then the fire had been extinguished but had completely destroyed the barn. Inside there were remnants of cars, containers that looked like oil barrels, and propane tanks.

After interviewing an ODF spokesman and a family member of the people who owned the barn, I headed back to the station (via a quicker route, thanks to the suggestion of that family)

It was a little after 5 when I left the barn and about 5:30 when I got back to the station. I found that they wanted the anchors to read a VO (voiceover) in the 6 and wanted me to front a VO in the 6:30. I started uploading footage and writing scripts and was able to get it all in! The other two channels were out at the scene too, but it looked like they didn't have video of the story in their evening shows. Score!

The VOs ran without a hitch in the evening shows and I packaged the story for the 11 oclock show.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekly Review 9/6-9/10

On Labor Day, I covered a picnic organized to celebrate those in the working class. It was nice to see an event that commemorated the real reason behind Labor Day:

On Tuesday, I met US Senator, Ron Wyden. He was visiting Medford because there was a summit for executives from E-Commerce businesses from the Rogue Valley. E-Commerce (online retailers like is an industry that's relatively big in Southern Oregon. Medford has 22 times the amount of internet commerce jobs that an average community does. It's an industry worth more than $1 billion dollars in So. Or.

On Wednesday, a benefit was held for the victims (I don't like using that word) of the Oak Knoll Fire that destroyed 11 homes in late August. It was organized by the City of Ashland and many businesses in the community donated products for the event. It was incredibly heartwarming to see so many come out in support of those affected by the fire. I talked with one homeowner who lost her house and she had some amazing things to say about the loss of her house and possessions, the community support, and what it all means. I'll be adding a post with some of her quotes and why they might be so important later in the week. For now, here's the story:

On Thursday, I previewed the opening of a pedestrian footbridge that crosses over a busy intersection. The footbridge is a $2.3 million dollar project that connects a bike and hiking trail that stretches about 20 miles along I5. I was able to talk with some bicyclists who have to cross the street and are looking forward to the new bridge opening on Sunday.

On Friday, I worked on a breakout story based on the big fire in San Bruno. I had heard reports that neighbors in the area smelled natural gas as early as three weeks before the explosion. I was able to talk with the local utilities company and fire departments about what people should do if they smell natural gas in their home or their own neighborhood. After that, I went to shoot another Friday Night Blitz game: Brookings at Phoenix. The Friday Night Blitz happens to be Newswatch12's most watched show. We provide the most coverage of games out of all of the stations in the market and tend to have better video (that's just a personal opinion). If you feel the desire to learn a bit more about Southern Oregon High School Football, you can watch the entire 15-minute show here:


This week I finally made the move to the Nightside Shift. In the news biz, there is the Dayside Shift (9am-6pm) and the Nightside Shift (2pm-11pm). The Dayside crew puts together the 5 and 6 shows, while the Nightside crew puts together the 6:30 and 11 shows. When I was first hired I was going to move to nightside my second week, but some management changes pushed everything back to this week. On Tuesday 9/7, I finally started working Nightside.

I was excited to change for a few reasons. The timeframe fits with my personal awake and sleep schedule a whole lot more. In college, I usually did homework in the late evening and night. Working in the afternoon instead of the morning just seems to a more natural fit for me.

Because the two shows are so distant, I will work on one story for the earlier show and a second for the later story. I think the way I'm wired makes it easier for me to focus on one story at a time. I have some difficulty going back and forth between different stories as I did during the Dayside shift. But I'll be able to break up the stories by show and really focus on one and not get anything twisted. Hopefully...

Also, I'm looking forward to working with the nightside team. The producer, Kelley Ashford, and the anchor, Emily Wood, are two of my closer friends at the station and we get along pretty well. I think I'm going to like working with them.

In the first week of being nightside, I am really enjoying my schedule. My timeframe looks something like this:
2:15 -- arrive at station, go through emails, check out possible story ideas
2:45 -- production meeting, assign stories and angles
3:00 -- head out into the field to first story
4:30ish -- get back to the station and start writing and editing my story in the 6:30
6:30 -- front a story live in the 6:30 show
7 -- head back into the field for a second story
8:30ish -- get back to the station to work on second story
11 -- front a different story in the late show.

Dear NFL, Welcome Back...

I'm very glad that football is back. This year I'm getting a little more involved with the sport and am taking part in a couple different pools.

First, for the past decade or so, my immediately family makes picks for each game all season. Everyone submits their picks for who will win each week before the game begins. I can't remember who's won over the past few years, but I know it's never been me. Hopefully it changes this year.

Second, I'm taking part in's Pigskin Pick 'Em. You make picks each week against the spread. Doing just alright there.

Last, but not least: Fantasy Football. A couple guys from work and their buddies have a league each year and they asked to me to be part. Though, I'd never played Fantasy before, I wasn't about to say no. Though I had no experience, luck played me a good hand and I had first overall pick in the draft. I chose Tennessee Titan RB Chris Johnson. I won't go into my whole roster, but I was able to get Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Hakeem Nicks, Calvin Johnson, Devin Aromashadu, and Tony Gonzalez. I think it's safe to say I have some of the best starters in our league, but we'll see how the season turns out. Winner gets a prize from a cash pool.

To watch the games, six of the guys in the league went over to our Sport Guy's house to watch some of the games on Sunday Ticket. In their basement, they set up two HDTVs: one airing the Red Zone channel that brings up the most exciting moments in all the games currently being played and the other had a channel called GameMix that showed all eight games that were being played at that time. It was like being in a control room at the NFL Network.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Story

Ron Brown has been at Newswatch 12 for decades and he always seems to have his fingers on the pulse of good stories in Southern Oregon.

Thursday, he reported on a one woman's dream coming true at age 87.

Into the Lion's Den

Thursday evening I was assigned to cover a story about the Jackson County Republicans holding a grand opening to their new Headquarters. I wasn't sure what to expect to find when I arrived. Sometimes these type of events are all hype and there's only half a dozen or so people there. When I got to new office, it was packed with maybe 70 people all watching and passionately applauding several candidates there.

Listening to some of the candidates speak about their upcoming campaigns, I couldn't help but think of counters to their views. And I wasn't sure if any of the GOPers near me could sense anything was off.

Thankfully they didn't. The organizers were happy to have media coverage there (the other TV stations weren't there, and I didn't see any print media there). I interviewed the Chairperson and afterward he asked: "So you're a Republican I take it?" I broke the news to him that I wasn't. No riots occurred.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Radio Interview

One of my colleagues and good friends, Matthew Robinson, is a Senior at Pepperdine University and hosts a radio show. For a while, we've been trying to connect and have an interview on his show. We're finally going to make it happen Thursday morning at 10:30. He says you can listen to the show live here:

The show will also be archived and available online soon. I'll have that link too.

Matt and I met covering the West Coast Conference Basketball Tournament in March 2010. He was a great guy to work with and has a ton of ambition. But what's more impressive is that he has the talent and drive to back it up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Week Recap (8/30 - 9/3)

I like the idea of having a Weekly Recap of all the stories I covered and a little musing about each of them. I've been getting pretty tired after work and haven't had the energy or drive to write a blog each day with the latest stories. Doing something at the end of the week might just be the solution...

With that, here's the review from August 30 - September 3.

I travelled 45 minutes through Grants Pass to the 3 Rivers School District. The District announced that their state-given funds were $2 million dollars less than the budget they had set for the school year. They had already made $2 million dollars worth of cuts and were now facing another huge set of reductions during the school year including cutting salaries, benefits, or cutting school days.
I planned on talking with the Superintendent, then visiting a school to find a teacher who was preparing for the first day of classes (Sept. 7). I went to a few schools, but no teachers were there. They weren't required to be there until the next day. After some phone calls, I realized I couldn't get an on-camera interview with the Union Rep. I would have to settle for a MOS (man-on-street) sound bite to complete the package. While it gives an interesting perspective, I prefer to stay away from MOS because it's a little bit of a cop out. I want to get the facts and the info from people who are credible in the story. Anyone can have an opinion, but having facts and experience is priceless.
Fortunately, I found someone who had children in the district (the 3 Rivers District is the smaller of two districts in Grants Pass) who wanted to talk. It was about 2:50 when I got back on the road and headed back to the station. That's a way late time. Fortunately, I got some help and was able to turn my stories for the show.

Wildlife Images is a non-profit that takes in abandoned or injured animals found on public land. There is no other place these animals can go. For several years, WI has been planning and constructing a new exhibit called Critter Creek. I was able to go out and do a story on the project.
It's funny how the stories get selected. This story was proposed and fought for by our Assignment Editor, Charlotte. She was able to convince our Asst. News Director to run the "cute and furry animal story." If it wasn't for her soft spot for otters, I would have had a different story.
I'd done a story at WI in the past and met the Executive Director of the program. He was very personable, helpful, energetic. I called up on my way up to the shelter, he dropped everything he was doing to meet with me, do an interview, and show me around. Great guy.
Because this was the day Obama gave the address from the Oval Office, our 5:00 show was cancelled and we were given only story. So we had half of a normal workload and an extra hour to complete it. Needless to say, it was a great day.

After the 6:00 show I headed out to a breaking news story, a home on fire in Central Point.

Firstly, how did September get here so quickly? Can it go back to summer?
I did a folo (TV shorttalk for a Follow-Up) on the house fire from the day before. The Public Information Officer was incredibly helpful. He walked me through the fire crews' standard procedures and even helped me on my other story for the day.
After some digging and talking with County officials, the story that I had read in the newspaper about the raised fees was a bit one-sided. Yes, fees were going up about 50% or thousands of dollars, but this was for only the biggest construction projects, multimillion dollar housing developments. An extra $1900 would be a drop in the bucket for them.

Once again I was called out for breaking news. The story I was orginially chasing turned out to be nothing, but I got the scoop on another story: A high speed car chase involving a stolen car, spike stripes, the car driving through a middle school, and ending in a foot chase. For all the details, check out the second half of this post on the breaking news.

I was able to go up to the firelines with crews at the Oak Flat Fire and get some shots of smokes and helicopters. Finally.
I was very happy to finally be able to get to the money shots of smoke after spending half a dozen days at the Incident Command Post and taking videos of maps, tents, and smoke from behind a mountain ten miles away.
I chronicled the entire experience in this blog post from last week.

Jacksonville is a small town with a quiant downtown area. It's about 15 minutes from Medford and is getting ready to have its 150th Anniversary Celebration in two weeks. Leading up to that big Jubilee, the city is hosting several festivals and fairs. Businesses in the downtown area are hoping that visitors who come in for those events also make their way downtown and spend a little money in the shops and restaurants.
In the 5:00 show, I had a vosot live in Jacksonville. Thought I was nervous, I felt pretty good about I did in the live shot. I'm getting more confident in my live remote shots. Being out in the field makes me more comfortable than being in the studio, in front of the greenscreen with half a dozen other reporters, anchors, or production people around. Don't know why it is, but I like the remote shots a bit better.

Friday Night Blitz
The Friday Night Blitz is Newswatch 12's most popular show. On Friday nights after about 10 minutes of news, the sports team takes over and shows highlights from the high school football games in the area. How do they get highlights? Reporters, producers, production crew, and whoever volunteers go out to assigned games and shoots highlights. After a little bit of time, we hightail it back to the station to get our video cut and short script (called a shot sheet) written. We're the only station that does anything like this and it's a big effort to get it all done, but it looks real good and is a lot of fun.
I'll write a longer post about this soon...but in the mean time you can >check out the show here.

...And that was my week!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Southern Oregon Adventures II: Oregon Coast

Last Saturday (8/28) four of us from the station decided to make a daytrip to the coast. We had talked about going a few weeks ago, but some schedule conflicts made it look like we weren't going to be able to make it happen. We found out at the last minute that it WAS going to be able to happen, and it did.

Faris (Web News Director), Kaylin (Morning Anchor), and Kerry-Ann (Morning Producer), and I packed into Kaylin's car and headed to the coast. On the way, there was an accident that blocked traffic in both directions for several hours. Finally, we got to Hwy 101 and were following the freeway north alongside the ocean. It was about 6:00 and we knew we wanted to stop at a few beaches at some point, so we decided to eat first (something we hadn't done in a long while) and then hit beach stops as the sun was setting on the way back.

We made it to Gold Beach and had dinner at the Port Hole Cafe overlooking the marina and the ocean. On the drive down we stopped at Cape Sebastian, some place I can't remember the name of, and Harris Beach. Three beautiful places.

We were on the unnamed beach as the sun set and I couldn't help thinking that we were some of the last people on the continental states to see the sun. People in New York hadn't seen the sun in three hours. Some people inland, maybe even in Medford, maybe couldn't have seen the sun for the last fifteen minutes. We were the last people to see the sun. It was momentous.

I took lots of photographs and a a few video clips and posted some of them here.

A swimming hole off the side of the freeway. But we didn't swim in it.

Blackberries grow everywhere up here. We picked some from the side of the road.

Beach right around sunset.

Kaylin taking pictures of the sand on wind-stricken beach.

Sunset on a fantastic day.

I'm an Oregonian!

Officially, I'm an Oregonian. I went to the DMV to get an Oregon Driver's License and registration for the truck, and now that I've got all the proper documents and plates, I'm officially an Oregon resident.
I also registered to vote here. I'm set.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finally Getting a View

For two weeks (since 8/21) I've covered the Oak Flat Fire four times. The Oak Flat Fire is a wildfire burning about 20 miles West of Grants Pass, an hour from Medford. Every time I've been out there, I've talked with the Information Officers who pass on the official info about the fire, the acreage burned, the resources used, the plans for the future. These guys are at the fire for the sole purpose of releasing information and taking care of the media. They've done a great job so far.

They've given me maps of the fire, gotten me as much info as they can, explained the processes the firefighters are using, and helped us in any way possible. Every time I've met with them, they've encouraged me to come with them to the firelines to see the smoke from the fire. However, the firelines are about an hour from the camp (which is an hour from Medford) and time would work against us.

On Thursday, the producers gave me the OK to go out to cover the fire and go to the firelines.

I got to the Incident Command Post, where the officials monitor fire operations and where I've met the Information Officers, and was quickly given the proper gear (firefighting pants, shirt, helmet, gloves, and fire shelter). I had brought my own boots. I changed into the fire clothes and got into a truck with one of the Info Officers with my camera gear in the back.

We drove through miles of winding and gravel roads to get to Drop Point 57, a road that overlooked a basin where the fire was growing. Immediately I could see at least half a dozen smokes rising from different points across the miles of land. It was actually a very beautiful sight. Like something out of prehistoric times. Almost like volcanoes and hot spots letting off smoke.

We were there for about half an hour and two of the fires grew quickly in that time. The white smoke got thicker and turned greyish-black. Officials told me that the peak burning time is from 4-7pm when the sun has dried the fine fuels like grass and leaves and brush. It was very smoky by the time I left and I can't imagine how much worse it got by that evening. From the distance in Medford, a grey smoke haze was visible across about half of the horizon. It was all coming from that fire.

Because the drive to and from the fireline was so long, and I was still an hour away from the station, I got back very late. It was almost 4:00 by the time I got the station. Luckily, the producers rearranged the form of my stories and Tove helped me edit another story while I worked on my package. Though it's not how I pictured it when the day started, I'm still very happy with how the visuals turned out. After travelling to the Command Post several times and getting shots of maps and people walking around a campsite, to see firefighters working, helicopters flying, and smoke rising from the forest felt like a major accomplishment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Covering Breaking News: House Fire & High Speed Chase

It's common practice to listen to the scanner for anything that sounds newsworthy: Structure fire, grassfire, shots fired. Mostly anything with the word "fire" in it.

Three times in the past week we would hear one of those key words on the scanner. Usually there is increased buzz on the radio and suddenly everyone is listening for an address. When we get that address, someone will mapquest directions to the location, someone else will get a camera kit ready, and the reporter or photog who's going out to the scene grabs anything they need (pad of paper, water bottle, car keys, etc.)

Those three times, I've been the reporter sent out to the story.

I've even joked that my beat is now breaking news that pulls me away from fronting a story in the 6:00 show.

On Tuesday, a fully-involved structure fire was the cause for me being sent out. In TV it's all about images and speed. Thankfully, I was the first TV reporter on scene and was only beaten by the Mail Tribune (Medford's Newspaper). I was quickly greeted by the Fire's Public Information Officer (the person who distributes information and handles press) and he pointed me in the direction of some of the still lingering flames. Being semi-competitive, I was happy to be the only TV reporter with video of flames, albeit small ones.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire. I did a folo on the story on Wednesday.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On Wednesday, I was sent out after the scanner reported a woman was injured after being hit by a bullet. The story was 30 minutes away, but we figured it might be newsworthy and didn't want another station to have the story when we didn't. So I dropped what I was doing for the 6 and headed out. The house was up a two mile dirt road and about halfway a Sheriff's car pulled over and flagged me down. He said nothing had happened. No one was hurt, no one was shot, nothing special. Then he tipped me off to a high speed pursuit involving a stolen car in Central Point. He said the chase started in Gold Hill (about 7 miles from Central Point), police used a spike strip, the suspect fled on foot, and was captured. The only location he had heard was that it was south of Scenic Rd (which I was introduced to because of the story above)

I headed out to the neighborhood and asked a few people walking around if they had heard or seen anything. No dice. I kept driving and found a Sheriff, he said he had just been called on to duty and didn't know much. He thought he had heard something about Victoria St. I headed there. I saw some neighbors and asked them what they had seen. I kept building on that and asked maybe ten people what they had seen or heard or knew. Slowly I began to piece together the story and shot some video.

After running around and talking to neighbors to police to custodians at a nearby school to kids to coaches of a football practice happening nearby, I had my story.

I came back to the station and wrote and edited it. Then checked in with Central Point PD to make sure my information was right. It was.

I definitely didn't see any other TV stations out at the scene, and I may have seen a writer for the Mail Tribune, but I haven't seen a story update online. And at four hours later, if they have it, it should be posted. Maybe they don't have it. In which case, 12 got the scoop on the story. Excellent.

Obama's Address

Last week we got word that Obama would be addressing the nation from the Oval Office at 8 Eastern, 5 Pacific. ABC was going to be airing the speech and we wouldn't have a 5 o'clock show. Great news for us!

During the day everyone got a chance to breathe a little easier knowing the our deadlines had been pushed back a little and when the address aired at 5:00, many of the reporters and editors in the newsroom stopped what they were doing and gathered around our TV bank to watch the address. It was something I hadn't seen at the station before: Everyone was transfixed by the speech and what President Obama was announcing.