Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm not here right now...

Live from Oregon should be retitled, "Temporarily in California." Bakersfield, that is.

I'll have a full report early next week.

In the meantime-- We're in the throws of the dog days of summer, meaning homestands and roadtrips, deadline deals, and pre-pennant race positioning.

But football is on the horizon. The lockout is over. College students are far from classrooms, but the conferences are gearing up. Including the Pac-12.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to Normalcy

Monday brought a welcome change, reporting on stories not related to the previous week's tragedy. However, there was one story last week that I want to share. Yessenia found the four kids' 12 year old babysitter who shared her memories of the lost children.

Monday, I reported on a new study that predicted Medford as the 3rd best housing market in the US for 2011-2016. Also, a library book thief who posed for a picture.

Two weeks ago:

Last week is still in my mind. I found this video on Portland newspaper The Oregonian's website, it was shot while Steven and I had a live shot together last Tuesday afternoon.

As per advice from friends and family, I've been looking towards the positive. Remembering that, I've been trying to remember that my stories make a difference. They bring people into the emotion and feelings of the story. I try to remember that several tens of thousands of people see my work everyday. Remember that I get invited into homes to tell stories and, hopefully, affect their lives.

Plus, there's this story out of Seattle that makes me see the power and beauty of our medium.

Swoboda Stays in SO

One of my best friends, Lindsay Swoboda, passed through Medford this weekend. Consequently, it was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time.

Say's birthday 2009

"Say" and I were in the same Orientation group at Saint Mary's, she was literally my first friend there, we had classes together almost every semester, trained for and played water polo, and travelled to New Orleans for Jan Term together. After graduation she took a volunteer opportunity in Missoula, Montana where she worked at a Women's Crisis Center. She's leaving Montana, en route to San Jose to volunteer for a second year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Say and I on our last night in New Orleans

She's the person I've kept in closest contact with in the past 14 months and it was an absolute pleasure to have her in town. We went out to eat, out to dance, and then breakfast Sunday morning. It was a whirlwind 17-some hours, but some of the best times I've had here in a long time.

Here's to having more friends pass through.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Continuing Coverage: The Tragedy on Tenth Street

On Monday, tragedy struck in Medford. A mother and her four children were murdered, seemingly by her husband.
Throughout the week more details emerged about what happened.

Thursday morning, Steven covered the victims' family's press conference. Their message: forgiveness.
Thursday afternoon, just 20 minutes before the 5:00 show, the autopsy results were released.
Thursday evening, the family visits the home where they died.
Friday night, that family held a candlelight vigil where 300 people healed together.

It's been an incredibly tough week for all who knew Tabasha and her family. For the first responders working desperately to resuscitate the children who, no doubt, brought to mind children they knew in their own lives.

I've spent countless hours this week absorbing as many facets of this story I could, then retelling it in four broadcasts everyday (and twice during live coverage where we broke into normal programming). I haven't yet processed everything or even most of it.
I don't feel like myself and am not sure when I will again. I sense another blog coming about all of this. Sometime.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tragedy on Tenth Street

There's been a tragedy in Medford. Five people are dead. Victims of a suspected homicide and arson.

They were a 30 year old woman and four children between 2 and 7 years old.
Police have named a 51 year old man, the woman's husband, as a person of interest.

It happened Monday. Details emerged throughout the day with a full picture becoming more clear by the time my story ran at 11:00.

Tuesday more and more information came out about the family and what police believe happened.
By 11, we had a little more information.

We'll be continuing to follow many aspects of this story as more information becomes available.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poker Night

Chris and I have been talked for a while about having a handful of guys over for a poker night. Saturday night we made it happen.

$10 buy-in, two medium sized pizzas, and a little over a dozen beers. We started at midnight and went til about 2:00.

Fun times were had by all. Hopefully, it will be a monthly shebang.

Matt won the big pot. (Insatiable Greed)

Chris came in second. (Inconsolable Sorrow)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SO Summits: Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak sits 15 minutes from Ashland, rising some 5900 feet above sea level, more than half of it above the valley floor.

The hike was in the middle of a forested area, surrounded by tall trees, lush grasses, and colorful wildflowers. Most of the 5.5 mile hike was covered in trees, but every now and then were beautiful vistas. Some were enhanced by the Antelope Fire which burned 1500 acres in 2003.

Sarah Schueler, morning show producer, was also on the trail. There were a bunch of other hikers-- families, dog-walkers, old folks on wildflower tours.

A fantastic midday hike with fantastic views.

Friday, July 15, 2011

All Good Things Come to an End

Friday two fantastic series are closing-- the Harry Potter films, and the TV series "Friday Night Lights."
Both represent a piece of my childhood.

Harry Potter

Potter and I have been pals since middle school when I was first pointed in the direction of a rather thick, previously unknown book called "Harry Potter and the Sorcorer's Stone." Nearly a decade ago, the books were translated into celluloid. I remember vividly, talking with Kevin about how Quidditch would be depicted on the big screen.

I've seen many of the recent editions of the HP films at midnight. Including film 7 part 1 last November. And Part 2 earlier today. USA Today's review.

-- -- -- -- --

Friday Night Lights

The film version of FNL is stellar. One of my favorite football movies. The TV show is a spinoff taking the feeling, politics, emotion of the film (which in turn is taken from the book it's based on).

As many will tell you, the show is less about football than it is about family, friends, high school, marriage, dreams, successes and failures, and the people around during those successes and failures.

I love the show. The characters, the feelings, the cinematography. Even the opening credits hits me like a freight train (I'll be writing a piece about the :45 seconds that open Season 1).

The final episode airs Friday at 8 on NBC. I had the chance to watch it early and loved it. It's a very satisfying ending to an incredibly satisfying series. I can't recommend it enough.

Reflections from producers, directors, actors.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Remember when I got all crazy about a candle I couldn't find?

Found one.
Compliments of Mom, eBay, and a nice Floridian woman who wrote a note for my mom.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Southern Oregon Adventures X: Emigrant Lake

Easier to take and afford. And they're fun.

I took one this weekend. We went to Emigrant Lake, just 25 minutes from my apartment and only $4/car for the day. Cheap, near, and fun.

Emigrant is a man-made lake just east of Ashland complete with campgrounds, RV hookups, boat docks, waterslides, and lake access for the wanna-be beach bums. That was me and my group of co-workers Saturday.

Six of us made it to the lake, bringing all we needed: chairs, sunscreen, inner tubes, sandwiches, chips, watermelon, and, of course, beer.

From 12-5 we were just relaxing, reading, swimming, laying out, and playing.

Perfect weather -- sunny, hot, but not oppressive, a light breeze -- made for a perfect day with friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

One Year Here

One year ago was my first day at KDRV. Time's flown by.

I remember moving in one year ago. Still trying to learn the lay of the land, how to navigate the tricky I-5 overpass between home and work, and the fact that I am legally not allowed to pump my own gas.

Then the real change came when I went to work for the first time.

I remember being in awe of the people, the equipment, the process, the ease with which everyone did their job and made it look good.

Coming from a small school with only two journalism classes put me in David's shoes trying to live up to the work that the Goliaths around me were doing after going to J-Schools with reputations like Missouri, USC, and Florida. I was a youngster in a big world.

I was told by a mentor, "the first year in the bid'ness is a roller coaster of ups and downs."

That's exactly what it's been.

I've come home exhausted, angry about my work. Other days I come home exhausted, but incredibly pleased about how I handled the curveballs I was thrown during the day.

-- -- -- -- --

Beyond work has been a roller coaster in its own right. Making friends who are more than a few years older than myself and seeing some of my bests leave for new jobs and new adventures has happened several times.

Also, being one year removed from college and my friends there has been an odd experience. I miss them, wish them the best always, and hope to reconnected as often as possible.

But it's the circle of life and in the future I'll play a different role, too.

-- -- -- -- --

Completely unrelated to being halfway through my contract, I got a performance review last week. The news director and assistant news director sat down with me for about 45 minutes talking strengths and weaknesses. It was very helpful to get constructive criticism and some tools to help me improve.

As they said, coming from a school that wasn't a Journalism powerhouse (or even a regular house) meant I could have turned out to be a real disaster. But I haven't. So far.

I'll be working on the notes to improve and, hopefully, will be the best I can be soon.

-- -- -- -- --

One year later, it feels a bit different. Every day throws the same number of curveballs, but I've learned how to do more than just foul them off, and actually turn them into solid line drives. Every now and then, there's a home run. And some strikeouts, but fewer of those.

I feel like I've grown a lot in past year. Can't wait to see where I go in the next year.

-- -- -- -- --

Also, I get a raise.
Which is nice.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SO Summits: Upper Table Rock

Trail number 2 on my training syllabus was the Upper Table Rock, just a few miles from my apartment (I live at the bottom of Table Rock Rd.). I climbed with my friend, Katie Conner, who works at channel 10, Sunday morning.

The trail is only 1.25 miles each way, but gains 720 feet in that span. It was a good trail, not too hard but still gets the heart working and sweat flowing. It's not as exhausting as the Roxy Ann hike was, but I feel it in a different part of my legs. I may try doing both trails back-to-back in the future.

The top of Table Rock is a flat surface where you can look out over much of the Rogue Valley.

Skyline: Roxy Ann is the curved peak on left. Pilot rock is the dome in the far distance in center. Mt. Ashland still has some snow on right.

Mt. Doom -- I mean McLoughlin -- in the distance.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Southern Oregon Adventures IX: The Fourth

The 4th of July is a 3-day weekend for most folks, but I was working with many friends on Monday. So, we did the only logical thing-- crammed 3 days worth of fun into Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday brought a pool party and BBQ at morning meteorologist Kristin Ketchell's apartment. No pictures because cameras and water don't mix, but also because we were having too much fun. Went from 3 til 11 and included all the necessities: burgers, dogs, chips, chili, pasta salad, cookies, beer, and wine.

-- -- --

Sunday brought something totally different, a 4-hour, approximately 7 mile hike up, around, and to the summit of Roxy Ann Peak. Why? Check out the start of Southern Oregon Summits.

-- -- --

The Fourth brought work, but fun work. At night, a few of us went to downtown Ashland for a snack, then walked towards the fireworks launching from SOU. We saw a few blasts then headed in for the night.

Fun times all around.

SO Summits: Roxy Ann

I'm hiking the peaks, mountains, and plateaus in Southern Oregon. For fun and for training.

In mid-August a few people from work and I are going to hike Mt. McLoughlin which peaks at 9000+ feet above sea level, and about 4400+ feet above the base. The trail we're planning on taking is 5 hours up, 4 hours down. It'll be rough.

To get ready, I'm hitting trails every weekend leading up to McLoughlin. I'm calling it Southern Oregon Summits. The first edition put me and some friends at the summit of Roxy Ann Peak in Medford.

Sunday's hike was a 4 hour adventure stretching, by my calculations (and assisted by Google Earth) was about 7.5 miles. Roxy Ann is only 2200 feet above the valley floor. It's a definite beginner hike, but you've gotta start somewhere.

Stay locked in for the next chapters in (and photos from) Southern Oregon Summits.

Kurt and Tricia, ©1981

Communication tower at the summit.

Hawks live near the peak.

On the way down, McLoughlin looms in the distance.


Medford from Roxy Ann.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Real World as Classrooms

"A journalist, it is said, enjoys a license to be educated in public;
we are the lucky ones, allowed to spend our days in
a continuing course of adult education."
--Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Following this thinking (which I do), my classrooms have been varied this week. They include:
~ a State Senator's office discussing low-income health care.
~ the park where a 40 rival gangmembers fought and 10 were arrested.
~ the office of the Timber Industries Association where companies are filing a lawsuit against the Obama Administration

Working as a journalist I've been forced to become an expert about something I had no previous clue about.
Taxes, Politics, Health Care, Education, Economics, Agriculture, E-Commerce, Courtroom Proceedings.

But there's something I am probably least familiar with -- Pregnancy.
Well, I got a crash course in April.

My real life classroom was a doctor's office.
My textbook, a sonogram.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feelings, Freire, Forward Progress

One of the aspects of reporting that I have a hard time with is remaining neutral when telling my stories.

Firstly, how many times do you tell a story with no emotion? Hardly ever. Why should it be different for a reporter? We meet the fascinating people who have been effected in some way or another and it's our job to communicate their experience to viewers. It would be unnatural not to feel something.

Secondly, my education has taught me that when telling stories/making videos, it's normal to feel something. And to embrace that human feeling. This is especially true when uncovering more and more information in an investigation or report.
A quote that sticks with me comes from Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."

Lastly, documentarians are inciters. They rally people to support whatever oppression, or unfamiliar cause they communicate in films. Most docs have a call to action to wrap up the report. Something to get the viewer off the couch and make changes. Here's one of my journal entries from a college course titled Communication and Social Justice:
Lastly, it is not enough to find and report the problems. There must be action. “...if we labor on with courage and patience, [our work] will bear fruit sixty and hundred fold” (169). Solutions must be presented in order for our work to be taken seriously and put into effect.

At work, I let my emotions fuel the quality of work while keeping it in check. Being neutral is a challenge I try to succeed at everyday.

-- -- -- -- --

Television is a one way medium. The people on the TV dole out information without an any readily available way to receive information back. In the past decade or so, that's changed as social media and networking allows more people who wouldn't otherwise be connected, to be connected.

Still, for the majority of viewers, news media in almost all forms is a unilateral information streams. Freire talks about a "banking" concept of educating where the teacher's task is, "to fill the students by making deposits of information which he or she considers to constitute true knowledge." It sounds good. Who would know better than teachers (or, in this case, news reporters and producers) what is true and how to report it?

The counterargument says that teachers (again, news reporters) are no more important than students (in this instance, viewers). "Implicit in the banking concept... a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator." The student loses agency in reality and, consequently, loses humanity.

The solution is "problem-posing" education, where teachers and students are on the same level and simultaneously teachers and students. No one group teaches the other and no one is self-taught, but all gain knowledge through dialogue about the world. "Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming -- as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality."

Agency: reinstated. Humanity: reclaimed.

-- -- -- -- --

How do we get there? How can we turn "banking" systems into "problem-posing" systems? It doesn't happen in news or the classroom, it happens in workplaces, community groups, and friend and family hierarchies.
(Here comes the call to action) It won't be easy and it won't be quick. But how many revolutions are?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Holidays Happen to Hail Happiness: An Alliteration Extravaganza

As I used to say, there are five things I really love in life. One of them is alliterations.

Working on holidays isn't horrible. A lot of people like to complain about working when everyone is enjoying the day, but here are my counterarguments.

~There's not as many people at work, so it's a bit more laidback and a lot less hectic.
~Holiday pay. Having this job isn't about the money, but getting a little extra goes a long way.
~Light, fun, and/or fluffy stories.

For 4th of July that meant going to the 100+ year old Ashland parade. I got to see the floats, the kids catching candy, and the marching bands. Combining my footage with footage from two other parades, I created a wrap of the Rogue Valley's festivities.

It wasn't hard news, it wasn't Pulitzer-worthy. But it was fun. And the script reflected that fun-- nat sounds, cute kids talking about America, and (best of all) alliterations.

Also, I ran into my co-worker's cousin who was visiting from Chicago. I asked her if she wanted to be on TV. She said yes. I interviewed her.

It doesn't get better than that.

PS-- In my tag at the end of the story I stumble over "Ashland High School." My brain wanted to say Antioch because when I typed the script, I wrote AHS. Just a little fun fact for all my East Bay homies.

Friday, July 1, 2011

If it's not on video, it didn't happen.

Simple as that. If it's not on video, it didn't happen.

The great Dan Garrity has said, "you want to make sure you get the shot of Jesus getting off the bus. Because if you get back to the station and Jesus got off the bus, you don't want to have to say 'I didn't the get the shot of Jesus getting off the bus.'"

Two stories this week when I was successful in getting the shot of metaphorical Jesus.

Tuesday I was covering a protest in Ashland when the picketers walked down Main Street. Police told them to move to the sidewalk. When they didn't, one officer took down the leader. What makes it more interesting, up until six months ago, he was an Ashland City Councilor.

It became such an ordeal that we folo'd the story Wednesday, talking with the former councilor and the Ashland Police Chief about what happened.

Other stations covered the protest, but not the march down the street. They definitely didn't get the smack down.

Wednesday I zoomed up I-5 to reports of breaking news. There was a possible water rescue on the Rogue River. We had heard some chatter over the police scanner, but didn't know many details. When I pulled up, I saw a man and asked what was going on. He told me he saw someone floating facedown in the river, jumped in, pulled him off of the riverbed, and performed CPR for about 10 minutes. It sounded like the victim didn't make it, so I was shocked when he told me his efforts had saved him!

It was about 9:45 when I got the interview and the video and jammed back to the station to have the story of the Rogue River hero in the 11. (Ironic that there's no online video for this story.)

We folo'd it Thursday. As did the other stations and the newspapers Thursday and Friday.

But we had it first.

There's a sense of pride that comes with getting the good story, getting it when no one else does, and getting it on tape.

I believe there's some luck involved.
But I also believe, "luck is what happens when preperataion meets opportunity."