Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
That's Bob Grebe, morning anchor, who's usually condemned to features about the Greek Festival and Haunted Houses at Halloween, working the phones for more details. As I walked through the newsroom -- at loose ends because I had no particular story to work on that day -- he was calling out that I should quickly cut together a couple of 30-second sequences of the footage coming down from the network from Florida, just so the producers putting together the news interruptions -- yes, we actually cut into the vapid morning talk shows with updates -- would have something to show. He was on.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
NOTE: This one took a while to crank out. As I discovered with the election pieces, apparently the blog places them as they were started, not finished, so it may appear this was written longer ago than it was. As I post, it's Dec. 5.
Once again, I promise to do more, more often...
Friday, November 5, 2010
This is Rick Boucher that same day, just a few miles away and a an hour or so later, being interviewed by the competition after a rally. The chairs were all full when he and Sen. Mark Warner spoke, and the followers enthusiastic. As I left, I overheard one say, as he walked out the door with a friend in front of me, that he couldn't understand the polls. From what he saw, Boucher should win by a landslide.
Back in the newsroom, the Assistant Producers gather data and deal with the detail work. If you watch News 7, you'll know that you actually can see the newsroom in the background during the show. Again, this is the view behind the scenes, so it's a reverse view. You can see the lights and set in the upper left corner of the picture.
And here, we're on the air. Actually, we're just about off the air; the floor director (in the center) is indicating to the anchors that there are only seconds left in their cut-in. This is a rather remarkable picture -- everyone on the set gets a little uncomfortable with people wandering around the cameras and stuff while we're live on the air. Trip over one cable, drop something with a loud THUMP! and out it goes, live, to everyone who owns a TV.
And now's the moment to confess: I've taken a small liberty with the pictures -- or rather one picture -- in this post. The first image is actually the last. It shows the anchors, Producer Cara Stein, Assignment Editor Dave Seidel and News Director Amy Morris meeting after all the cut-ins, late in the night, reviewing what they did and how well it went. (It did go well, aided by the results quickly indicating the elections' trend.)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It's interesting how he sees it, and explains a few things. For one thing, it turns out their plan was nothing like what I thought I signed up for. They thought they were building a great commentary site for each individual journalist -- post the story and wait for dialog with readers. I thought that's what this is. If I wanted a glorified blog, I'd rebuild Cat Typing into that.
I thought they were building something that could perhaps be described as an online catalog of stories available for resale to other outlets. I was very excited about that thought. I produce material enthusiastically and often, but am a terrible marketer. If someone was going to do all the marketing (and incidentally, all that complicated internet coding crap, which I could learn but don't want to), then great: a perfect match. But in reality, not so much.
I've got to say, he raised my hackles a bit with the comment that the journalists weren't "hungry to succeed," but I think he's just choosing his words poorly. I think his idea of product is just different from mine, perhaps most sharply shown by his frequent admission that he isn't a big news reader. I am a constant news reader. I am a journalist by definition; it's not my job, it's what I am. I am one of those people who, as Christiane Amanpour described it, will run towards the big scary thing everyone else is running away from.
He is a computer guy. He clearly thinks that short stories, delivered quickly and frenetically online, with lots of reader commentary and interactivity is journalism. I thought NewsTilt was an opportunity to work on some of those big think pieces that I had been meaning to get around to. I wanted to do New Yorker, while he was building Gawker or TMZ.
And, apparently, they were expecting me and my fellow contributors to drive readership to NewsTilt, where I expected NewsTilt to drive readership (or rather secondary outlets, and thence readership) to me. See above: I thought it was a marketing scheme. If I could somehow create vast legions of readers, why would I need NewsTilt? Again, I'd just monetize this site somehow. (And, by the way, thank you once again six followers. I know where my readership is...)
The pity is I'm back at Square One, still with product and no outlet or marketing scheme. When I finish moving and various other things, I guess I'll go to Word Press or some such place and rebuild my site with the former NewsTilt content, but then what? How do I go about monetizing this stuff?
Anyway, I forgive him for implying that I wasn't willing to produce product and wasn't hungry for success. But am I the one he mentioned as an Emmy winner when speaking in the same breath as a Pulitzer winner?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
My typical approach for something like this is to start far back and get the overall scene. Then I move closer and closer, getting more detailed shots, but also moving more into areas where I might be forbidden. By the time I walk right up to the crane the operator steps out and welcomes me.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
But a while back, I had another strange experience, from start to finish.
Every year, Roanoke has a Motor Madness weekend. Classic cars cruise up and down Williamson Road -- a major avenue into town -- on Friday night, and then on Saturday they park the cars downtown, closing off several streets. While I was shooting the display for the station, I came across a red Ferrari. Perfect. Bright color, easily recognizable to the viewers, sleek and pretty.
As I shot it, the owner, Dan Ragland, struck up a conversation. We talked for a while -- probably longer than I should have hung around, but it was fun -- and in the process he told me about a garage he uses outside of town. It's just a little country garage -- literally called "Jake's Garage" -- where Dan has basic maitenance done on the car. On top of that, this is not the only Ferrari that goes there, and on the following Tuesday Dan said three would be there at once.
Well, by that time I have my notebook out, taking down names and numbers, and by Monday I had the Managing Editor sold. Calling (I just looked up "Jake's Garage in the phone book), I talked with Bill Conner, the slow drawling owner and sole mechanic, who was okay with me coming by, and everything was set.
Finding the place turned out to be easier than I thought. It sits on a major road running out of Roanoke, and the bright red of a Ferrari that had been dropped by earlier that morning marked it as the place to be.
Ironically, that easy marker made my heart sink a little. Part of the story all but required me getting footage (and sound -- that unique growl of a Ferrari engine) of the cars pulling in. But no worry: two more were yet to come. Soon, Dan pulled up in his, and a bit later the third -- this one a white hard top -- arrived. I shot like crazy.
The thing is, I tend to be a very passive journalist and photographer, and oddly, despite the somewhat calm atmosphere of a story like this, a lot is really happening all at once. Features are made by catching telling moments, and you never know when that moment is going to happen ... unless you sort of take control of the situation and ensure things are occuring only when you are ready for them. I don't do that control thing well, or at least happily. So, I was jittering here and there about the garage, catching Bill as he did some work while organizing everyone into their interviews.
Finally, I began to feel confident we had pretty much what we needed. The car owners were ready to head out. All that was left was to get some cover shots when Dan turns to me and says, "You want to ride in it?" Uh, yeah.
I think Dan would have let me drive a lot more if I'd asked, even though he had stuff to do that day -- that and he was letting me play with his $700,000 toy -- but it had been a perfect experience, a delicious taste. I'd rather have a glass of really fine wine than get slobbering drunk and have someone be afraid of ever letting me have more. It was time for me to step away from the car, slowly.
Mike Redding, the Managing Editor, reviewed the interviews and footage, writing the final story for me, which I edited over the weekend. It became a really fine piece, the first I've bothered to save since starting to work at the station. I'm really proud of it, but I'll always savor that drive.
Next, I have to figure out how to get to Ferrari Racing Days in Budapest. Now that seems like a perfect combination of factors. Welcome to my fantasy world...
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
For one thing, I'm one of those people who gets frustrated when a website -- any website, but especially a blog -- is left idle for extended periods of time. The ease of use, not to mention the rapid pace of the internet, all but demands constant updates and changes. If a blog I follow doesn't update regularly (ideally daily), I get frustrated. If it sits idle for two months, odds are I'll get bored and move on. (You don't want me to have the TV remote control, either.)
Now I have had a couple of excuses. For example, while I have several entries I want to put in (and will put in immediately after this one), they have photos that go with them. And it has been a while since I got into the darkroom as well. Now I have the negatives, and just need to scan them.
Also, it's not like I have a lot of idle time these days. I'm full time now at WDBJ, which consumes a remarkable amount of time and (to my surprise, actually) energy, both physical and mental. I'm lucky if I get home and have the time to read some blogs, let alone write one. However, I have resolved that that is going to change. And my life is all about change these days.
You see, the biggest reason I haven't had the time or concentration or, frankly, creative heart to produce this stuff is that I'm bankrupt. Literally.
That's why I chose the title above, a phrase that strikes me as having a useful meaning (if counter to its commonly used one). We're selling out of our overwhelming debt. The bank is taking back our house -- a particularly poignant aspect of the whole thing, as we built the place with plans to never leave. I used to joke that, one of the great pleasures of moving in there was that I'd never have the chaotic agony of moving again. And that's just one small part of it.
We now live in a cash economy. I'd read about this -- usually about poor people and illegal immigrants (and I realize that is often redundant) -- but never thought I'd experience it. (If you're curious, it's because the credit card companies will go into your account to get payments, even though a declaration of bankruptcy is supposed to stop that. And it simply became absurd; the account was more often than not overdrawn at the end.) I simply cash my paycheck the day I get it on the way home, and we dole out the money on gas and groceries, etc., through the two weeks in anticipation of the next check. Happily, the check cashing place also sells gas and fried chicken. (Welcome to the American South.) So everyone gets a treat on Friday.
Needless to say, there's much legal activity involved. And it is surprisingly expensive. Why does a process to declare to the world you have no money require a fairly substantial chunk of money? Where exactly do they expect us to get it? It's not like we have thousands of dollars laying about; don't they think we would use it to pay our bills to, oh I don't know, keep our house?
However, I've got to say, the legal process is sort of confessional. You have to delineate all your debts -- and thus face what you've done -- and all your assets. It's a good thing to do, placing yourself in terms of exactly where you are in the physical world ... and in my case, causing me to ask how we got there. And where we go from here.
I don't mean to make excuses. This is no one's fault but my own. I can see where I could have done better, how I've had a pretty comfortable life. After all, I'm a photographer and writer. It's not like these are real jobs. I get to do what I like ... and I plan to continue, but with a wiser eye to money and monetizing the process, and with a firmer hand on self-indulgence.
So now we're moving -- a smaller rental house, but big enough for the traveling circus that's my household, and it's kind of cute. We're painting this week, and have to be in soon, because the bank's goon squad will be at the door in about a month. But I'm gonna' get on this blog thing. You'll see...