Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First Time For Everything

On Tuesday October 27, 2009, I did my very first official shift at KOMU. I was so nervous going into the shift, but I felt confident in my abilities because of all the work I have already done in Broadcast II. I came into the shift with ideas to pitch I felt confident in because of all the pitches I made in Broadcast II.
When I got to the station, my producer gave me an idea of something they needed covered. I drove out to Fulton to cover the Up ‘til Dawn, a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. At the event, students come and write 35 to 50 letters to friends and family asking them to help raise money for St. Jude. Interviewed Neil Stanglein, the Director of Student Involvement.
On my way back to the station, I wasn’t too worried about getting my editing done. Since I took the editing test, I knew I could edit quickly if need be. When I was in the newsroom watching my piece on air, it was one of the most exciting and proud moments of my life.
I totally understand the standards of Broadcast II. The way I see it, a newsroom serving as a training ground for students is the best place to get your start. There is only one Mizzou.

Here's my VOSOT (they had to cut the second vo and the tag for timesake)

Huff and Puff

When you Google The Huffington Post, it comes up as Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Frankly, I think it’s the best thing they could say. THP is, in fact, the perfect mixture (in my mind) of news and opinion. We all know our news sources are very opinionated and biased, so why not just own up to it and admit it? It makes me respect THP even more.
THP is another great example of multimedia. They have article, pictures and videos. I get my fill of whatever kind of media I want. For instance, the other day I watched the neatest video they posted from National Geographic:
They also have an area for reader feedback. The blog on THP lets their readers respond to the things they read on the website, or just what they are thinking and feel the need to share.
I liked how the site was organized. It was clean and neat but visually appealing at the same time. The top tool bar organized stories into different topics as well as different major US cities. At the very top of the page, there is a bar telling you what the biggest news is at the time.
THP has sad, funny, interesting, poignant, and important articles. It’s almost like organized chaos- if you are looking for something interesting (and maybe a bit random), this would be the place to go. For instance, getting in the mood for Halloween, I stumbled upon this page on THP:
It is funny, interacting, random, and entertaining.
The way I see it, THP has all of the intelligence of The New York Times, the opinion of a good blog, and the multimedia of, all while maintaining its digestibility and interactivity. The Huffington Post is my new news love affair. Although I will always turn to KOMU, The Missourian, and CNN when I want straightforward news and need the scoop, THP is a refreshing twist on news.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Going Live in...Three...Two...

On October 1, I shadowed live truck operator Kyle Stokes for the five and six live shot. The reporter going live was Lauren Styler. It was interesting to see the process from both the perspective of the live truck operator and the reporter. We went to Mizzou Arena to cover the National Anthem auditions. First, we went to the side of the building and went down onto the court. After asking one of the staff members stationed down their and three different women’s basketball coaches, we found out there had been a miscommunication between the people at KOMU and the people at Mizzou Arena. This just caused Kyle and I to waste time running around and looking like we didn’t know what we were doing. Eventually we worked it out so we could shoot by the entrance, where people auditioning would go.
When we finally agreed on somewhere we could shoot, we had to pick a good spot that would be interesting to viewers. When we finally picked a spot, we had to get everything set up, which Kyle said can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or maybe more. When setting up, you have to make put up the mast and make sure it points toward the station so its signals will hit the station. The mast can’t go through mountains, hills, buildings, etc… The setting up process seemed complicated because there is so much equipment: camera, cords, lights, the snake, the microphone, the power strip, and finding a power source for everything.
Once everything was set up, Kyle put up the IFB. IFB stands for interruptible feedback (Lauren remarked, “I need to get my own IFB” because they are crucial for live shots) the IFB is a device that allows the reporter and producer to communicate through the reporter’s earpiece. Lauren did, however, bring her own earpiece. In addition to that, Kyle said, “seasonally appropriate” clothes are one of the most important things reporters can bring. He advised me to invest in a good raincoat with a hood, and always have boots, coats, and hand warmers in my car. Also, he said to be sure to bring a pen and paper, your scripts, and the knowledge of where in the show the live shot will be (i.e.: “it’s in A16 but there is also a tease”). Kyle’s favorite reporters to work with are the ones that put on a show and make him look good. Lives shots are the flashy part of news and so if the reporter plays along and does everything full out, then it also makes Kyle look better.
Other than being prepared, there were a few things that Kyle said a reporter could do to help him out. Helping take down all of the equipment is a big help. He said some reporters do their live shot and then head back to the station, so he is very grateful when they stay to help him put everything away. Being on time is helpful as well. The biggest point he made was to communicate! Reporters and producers alike can help him out by communicating. If you don’t tell him exactly what you want, he will do whatever he thinks works, which might not be what you had in mind.
The most common mistake that reporters make is memorizing their scripts. Never, ever, ever, no matter what, memorize your scripts because it just causes more problems. If what you say is one word off or you forget where you are, then you sound worse than if you just have a loose idea or the script and ad lib it. Don’t marry your script, just look down once in a while and read your key bullet points.
This was my last shadow shift and the way I see it, shadow shifts are the perfect introduction before going out the station on your own work. The common thread through all of my shadow shifts was communication. Not communicating was an oft-made mistake and one that causes everyone in the newsroom headaches. Plus, all it takes is a call or a text to make sure everyone is on the same page so the newscast can run as smoothly as possible!

Climb Every Mountain

Now that I am on to package four, I have realized that no matter where I shoot, every single last location has its own set of unique challenges. My fourth package is about increased gym membership despite the economy. First, I went to a traditional gym (weights, treadmills, etc…) and found myself surrounded by mirrors and windows. Hello backlighting and my own relflection. I’ve made both of those mistakes one too many times.
After getting stood up by my source at that gym (yet another inherent challenge of broadcast), I went to a second location at an indoor rock climbing gym. No mirrors and no window. Score. Not quite… Because the gym does not harness the climbers, they have padding all over the floor that is about four inches thick. This means when I put my tripod on a padded area, I have to move to a different pad or the camera will shake horribly if I move at all.
The way I see it, every different story I cover and each different location I go to is a learning experience. There is never a story that goes 100 percent perfectly. Each story has its own unpredictable hurdles for me to figure out when I get there. This is one of the reasons that I love broadcast so much: every day is different from the one before and I am constantly learning new things.