And so Bob did, cradling my XDCam in his lap while I snaked through the streets of Winston-Salem. With my headphones around his ears and his reporter-pad in hand, he flipped a switch on the camera and footage of a woman sitting by a humble Christmas tree flickered in the viewfinder. As she spoke, Bob scribbled her words, looking for bite-sized chunks of narrative to compliment the script in his head. While he searched, I threw Unit 4 into a hard downhill left, merged onto the crowded interstate and checked my watch. Five minutes ago we'd been standing in the lady in question's worn living room. In less than a hour and a half her story was scheduled to air on our 6:00 newscast. In thirty minutes the 5:00 producer planned to show some of our footage for a 'tease', but not before I make the twenty minute trip to the station to begin the editing process. 'Oh well', I thought as I wedged my news chariot between two jockeying 18 wheelers, 'at least there's no need to rush'.
With it's sat trucks, helicopters and logo'd windbreakers, TV News is more Amazing Race than Paper Chase. Sure, we want the truth but the facts fall flat if it ain't on time. While our brethren in print sit at their desks and work the phones for notable quotes, we in the broadcast corps saddle up and move out, dragging high-dollar gear and a penchant for hype wherever we go. I won't claim it's the more dignified of the two, but it sure makes for a better highlight reel when the old office Christmas party rolls around. But I'm not here to slam the newspaper guys, for despite my love for language and grocery store coupons, I know little of that realm. How could I, when I've spent the past fifteen-plus years hurtling through a daily gauntlet of ever-increasing deadlines. Heck, after this long I'm lucky I still got a driver's license, let alone the capacity to flip through a paper or two over my morning cup of rotgut.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah - zooming down the highway in search of a newscast. As I did, Bob never looked up. Instead he leaned further into his notepad until he assumed some kind of journalistic fetal position. Looking over at him, I wondered if college kids studying broadcasting had any idea of what they were getting into. TV news seems very swashbuckling from the comfort of a dorm room, but all that swash and buckle comes with a large dose of inconvenience, ulcer-inducing stress and constant exposure to unsavory elements. Pros like Bob Buckley take it in stride, understanding that less than pristine conditions are an integral part of the gig. If he'd wanted to ride a desk to a five o clock quitting time every day, he could have majored in business, computers or some other less messy field. As for me, I could have kept pursuing my early career as a radar-reading scope-dope in the Nav...that, or become the world's most reflective cabbie. But neither would have granted me the mind-bending adventures I've had behind the lens. I just hope the next generation of newgathering partners packs their motion-sickness pills.