Friday, April 29, 2011

Dealing with Death

I had no doubt when I entered the local news business that I would end up reporting on a death. And that scared me.

Many people believe in the stereotypical journalist who, in search of the most gripping story and best ratings, tracks down friends and family and prods them with questions into crying for the money shot.

For me, and for many of my friends who find themselves in the same position, this isn't true. We just want to tell stories. We feel the responsibility of being the eyes and ears of our viewers.

A few weeks ago, a car accident killed an 18-year-old who was riding in the back of a pickup truck. He was with buddies and they were camping at a nearby lake on Spring Break.

The next day I was assigned the story of finding out if the school was going to be doing anything-- holding a memorial service, bringing grief counselors on campus, helping the family. I talked with Eagle Point HS Assistant Principal, Tim Rupp. He gave me a great interview and talked about the student, Andrew Roberts.

Eventually, we found out that Andrew's father is a teacher at Eagle Point High School.

I kept in contact with Mr. Rupp and used him as a gateway to the school, friends, and parents.

Because I kept a respectful distance and honoring the family's wishes, Andrew's dad was gracious enough to allow me to attend the school-wide memorial and he gave me an interview.

In my eyes, this is one of the most important stories I've told at NewsWatch 12.

Mr. Roberts says some of the other stations didn't respect the family or the situation so the story was exclusive. Our station wanted to pump up the fact that it was an exclusive, which felt weird to me. Here we are turning this sad, grief-filled situation and branding it "exclusive" so as to promote ourselves.

As unnatural as it may have seemed to me, Mr. Roberts sent an email to my bosses that honored my work. I'm very proud of that.

I treated them without changing any difference between my reporter self and my personal self. I'm also proud of that.

I see myself as a storyteller and I try to gauge my work by how my subjects feel about the way I report. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts' email was a confirmation, to me, that I'm on the right track.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Looking back on "Live in Medford" over the past month or so, my posts have been spotty at best.

In an effort to do a better job, I'm implementing a schedule for myself.

Check back to the blog Tuesday and Friday mornings. There will be a new post twice a week, and sometimes more.

There'll be a mix of stories I've covered, thoughts on the news biz, and an update of what's going on outside of work. And more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Exciting"(?) Stories

I had two "exciting" stories Tuesday. As exciting as budgets and health insurance can be. Tuesday it was quite exciting. To me, at least.

First: Budgets.
School districts across Oregon are facing deficits forcing them to cut anywhere from 10-15% of their budget for the coming school year. Jobs, days, closures, programs -- everything's on the table. We got word from a senior at Grants Pass High School that their Board would be voting whether to cut the school's Child Development Center. It's a day care center for infants and toddlers where students get experiential learning and class credit. The program is well-known in the community, sometimes with a two-year waiting list. About a hundred people came to the meeting, hoping to convince the Board to not cut the program. They were successful... at least, for now.

Second: Health Insurance.
Whooo-hooo! Who doesn't get excited about health insurance? Probably the uninsured. And according to my report there will be less uninsured in Oregon. $48 million, in the form of a federal stimulus grant, is coming to the Beaver State to help provide insurance to as many as 400,000 uninsured Oregonians.

I enjoyed working on both of these stories.
Does that make me a nerd? Maybe. But I embrace it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Tradition

What's the main tradition associated with Easter?

Going to mass in the morning?
Eating ham during Brunch?
Easter Egg Hunts?

Maybe it's the last one most people think of. At least young children and their parents probably think of hiding and searching for eggs.

For my family, and certainly my brother, hunting for eggs holds a fond place in our hearts.

In the olden days (1992?) my parents hid eggs in our backyard while we searched for them. My dad preferred home video over still photos and now we've got a golden moment captured on tape from Easter long ago.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opinions in Stories: My report on how e-Readers are taking over the world

If you believe journalists don't insert their own opinions in their reports, you're sorely mistaken.

Actually, that's not true, but it happened today.

I was scanning headlines on a national news website and saw that e-books out sold paperback and hardback books for the first time ever. Intrigued, I read further and found that in February $90.3 million worth of e-books were sold. More than double from the same month in 2010.

I brought up the news in the morning meeting, and to my surprise, the producers liked the story and wanted me to package it (turn it into a long-form story).

I was enthralled because I find myself preaching the benefits of e-readers at least once a week in my real life. Now I get the chance to do so on TV… stellar.

I love my Kindle. It's easy to read, lightweight, small size, currently has a couple hundred books on it. More than anything it's convenient.

Two exemplifying anecdotes:
1) The Giants' World Series trophy was in Medford and I went to take pictures with it. Knowing the line was going to be long, I stuck my Kindle in my backpocket, and pulled it out, reading while waiting in the hour-long line.
2) The first book I bought (e-book prices tend to be cheaper) and read on the Kindle was The Book of Basketball, an 800-page behemoth. With the Kindle, I can read in bed, hold the book with one hand, balance it on my leg, get comfortable with it. There's no way I'd be able to do that with most traditional books, let alone 15 pounder like The Book of Basketball.

The nay-sayers worry they'll miss the look, feel, nostalgia, smell of traditional books. But I'd argue those sensory stimulations are so enjoyable because they're associated with a pleasurable act -- that is, reading.
But once you start reading on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad, new qualities will be enjoyable. The feel of the plastic casing. The click of "turning pages."

But mostly, it's just the convenience of it all. It's so convenient that it's got me actually reading again. I've read six books in the past two months. You couldn't get me to do that if my grade was dependent on it. But I'm enjoying reading again. And you can't put a price on that.

Well, I paid $179. So there's that.