Thursday, May 31, 2007

Whaling and Gnashing of Teeth

One of my biggest pet peeves as a photographer is not having my stuff hit the air. I'm not talking about a small piece of video gets bumped because of something huge has happened and makes my video pointless I'm talking about hard work thrown away because the producer would rather run a story about how Anna Nichol Smith is still dead. It makes me feel like all the work and time I spent is for not and nobody really cares.

I get to work about 5 minutes before 3pm and I am immediately shuffled off to the far reaches of the county for what I am told is "a man in a ditch." I'm thinking great a guy has fallen and everything will be gone when I get there in a half an hour. To my surprise I see a fleet of fire trucks and yellow tape across every road and walkway with in a quarter mile radius of a large dirt pile. Come to find out it was not just a man falling into a ditch it was more like a 10ft hole collapsing on three guys. Two made it out but one was no where to be found. I start rolling, taking pictures on my cell phone to send back for the web and call the station to let them know I am on scene. I even called five minutes later saying we need to send a reporter and a live truck. I get the live truck but no reporter I am told that Boston is already on a story and that I am getting an intern. I shoot as much as I can I even get an interview from the Public Information Officer before the truck arrives. I go into a Wendy's grab some food sit down and pound out the video and even cut 4 pieces of sound so they will have a choice and all of it will help give them information so I don't miss something by calling back with what I know ( thought that was a pretty heads up move on my part.) Well the 6pm show only wants video and after some wavering the 7pm finally took my sound.

I'm told to stick around to get the body being pulled out. Mind you we can't show that, but they want me there for it. I move to truck to the "staging area" so I can talk to the PIO. He keeps giving me info and I keep calling back to the station to give them the new info. Was any of it worthy of an interview... not really, the stuff I got earlier from him was the meat of the story. I get a call that they want to anchor package the story so I need to send more video so the editor can cover the story. I can't send more sound because, well all I have is the PIO. In between shooting people walking around the ditch and a back how moving a large steel box so the workers won't have the same fate as the trapped guy I cut some new video with each shot lasting longer than I would normally send... you know to be nice to the editor. I send that back and continue to wait.

It's now after 8pm and I am tired of waiting around. I get the PIO and ask how much longer. "Oh this could take hours." His inflection was of one past midnight and probably not till early in the wee hours of the morn. I call in and they insist I stay there, "just in case." I'm the only TV station left, hell the only one to send someone on the ground was the state's cable news station and he left at 4:30! I then get another call wonder about the sound I sent. I info them I only have the PIO. Somehow the producer has the impression I have weeping co-workers and family. With total shock, I tell her I only have the PIO I NEVER mentioned I have co-workers or family. I get off the phone and ten minutes later the PIO brings over the fire chief, SCORE another interview to spice up the anchor pack. I ask a few questions and head over the truck with the now screeching carbon monoxide detector. I had to take my laptop away from the truck because I fear passing out and dying. I risk my life 10 minutes later to feed the new sound with "new" night video. I've now feed back over 8 minutes worth of stuff.

I finally get the green light to leave, well only after the local ABC station leaves (they finally showed up at 9:50, I guess they need something other than copter video.). I walk back to the truck to catch the end of some sound from the PIO... wait, that's not a package. THEY CUT IT DOWN TO A VO/SOT! For the non-TV people a package is a longer story with multiple clips of people talking about one given story with the anchor/reporter talking in between each piece of sound. A VO/SOT is very short video that the anchor talks over and one piece of sound from an official. Oh and the video and sound was what I sent at 5:30!

I did triple the amount of work I would normally do because I was by myself (well, with an intern) and the same 30 seconds repeated three times. I am fuming and I have never done this, but I am going to management. I usually refrain from this, I'm always paranoid about management and I'm somewhat fearfully that everything will be turned back onto me and I get the blame. I can not handle another night of miss communication and general lack of concern for the product. I wonder how can this continue to happen at every station in the country, seriously the news business has the worst level of communication and we are in the business of communication! For some I may sound like the J-dog of old, and I'm hating my job and nothing has changed. I still love North Carolina, it's just that TV in general is this way and from time to time it gets to the point of idiocy and something needs to be done and for the first time I hope that I will be able to make something happen, that's the difference.


Anonymous said...

Just remember one thing J-dog. management usually sides with the producer, since they ND use to be producers at one time. Make your point but be respectful. Talk about how you thought it was news worthy and how much time was invested. Be prepaired for the old "you don't make the decisions on news philosophy" line. Good luck and stay cool. Hell, you got paid for it and didn't have to go to some lame city coucil meeting.

Bob D.

J Dog said...

That's for the advice. I'm not mad at the producer per say it's more of the desk and communication. The producers were being fed bad info all night. I guess I just need to cut out the middle man from now on.

Anonymous said...

The tears are just rolling down my face. Oh and by the way, Adams cat likes me...

love your favorite niece

AaronG said...

Just think... if this had happened a couple of years ago with the Sago mine collapses or with the Pennslyvania workers, it would've gone overkill.