Saturday, April 02, 2005

Newsgathering Givens

“So do you know what you’re doing next week?”

Of course not, I thought as my wife waited at the bottom of the stairs for an answer. That’s the beauty of what I do: every day is different than the day before. Predicting how I’d spend each shift is virtually impossible. Well, that’s not entirely true, I decided as I hovered over the keyboard…

For example, I know I’ll log many a mile behind the wheel of my mobile office. Every week I traverse the Piedmont Triad in my trusty news chariot, ricocheting from city to city to city in a single afternoon. For a kid who couldn’t wait to drive, I now get more than my fill of the open highway, especially after a cannonball run of lane-changing madmen. Luckily, I have my music on board. This week’s featured disc? The latest offering from Beck!

I also fully expect to run into other lenslingers throughout the hunt. We’ll rendezvous at some unlikely location and act like we belong there in the first place. I treasure these summits, as it gives me a chance to examine my breed. Most of the other camera pirates I encounter are hearty souls, electronic journeymen who feel at home in a hospital ward, fancy ballroom or ghetto stand-off -- as long as they have their camera, that is.

It’s just as certain I’ll shoot lots of footage that will never see the light of day. Each and every time I hoist my expensive toy, I use it to record images destined for the cutting room floor. Of course, we don’t use razors and film anymore, all my slicing and dicing occurs on a non-linear timeline. But all that technology doesn’t stop me from wasting time effort and batteries on shots I know are useless. But hey - what’s a photog to do while trailing a group of high school students through a new school, reveal how incredibly unhip I am?

As much as I’ll try to avoid it, I’ll also spend a measurable amount of time in and around a live truck. The masts and dishes atop these marvelous vehicles allow us broadcasters to do just that - broadcast! From outside the bank robbery hours after it occurred, to the roadside report alongside the ten mile tie-up, tot the dusty hallways of a sequestered jury, we’ll take you there live even when our better judgment says not too. As soon as I pull 500 feet of this cable into a crowded sports bar, that is.

Alas, another scenario is a virtual lock. For no matter how I try to hide in the backwaters of b-block feature pieces, I’ll no doubt be summoned to the edge of someone else’s calamity for extended team smotherage before the workweek is through. Panning the yellow tape rarely wears you out physically, but too much time on buzzard patrol slowly erodes the soul. I work hard to avoid the ubiquitous crime-scene scene, but when it comes to grisly assignments, I still ain’t bulletproof.

So yeah, I got a feeling what I’ll be up to next time I punch the old news clock. I don’t know the players yet, the motives or location. But I damn sure know the archetypes, the allegories and the attitudes that make up the average forty hours of frantic news gathering. I was perusing these possibilities when my wife’s voice rang out from the downstairs foyer.

“So do you know what you’re doing?”

“Oh you know, honey,” I said absent-mindedly, “same old same old...”


newshutr said...

I'd venture to say you might know what you'll be doing. Pope, Pope and more Pope.

Smitty said...

Or how about a "What's Right With Our Schools" franchise piece?

Now doesn't that sound like fun way to start the work week?

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