If you haven’t heard me complain about work lately, there’s a reason. I’ve exiled myself from “The A-Block”. That’s TV talk for the opening segment of your favorite newscast. You know, that nightly barrage of breathless live shots, over-coiffed gravitas and police blotter expose...B-L-E-C-H-H! I’d rather do my time on the far side of the commercial break, where gauzy close-ups and slow dissolves outnumber body bag shots by at least two to one. Judged on that criteria, the past week was a breeze...
MONDAY: The Chatty and the Absent
Here’s something I bet they don’t teach in J-School: How to shoot a news story on a theory or a myth. It’s exactly what certified meteorologist Charles Ewing and I were up to in Asheboro as we looked for a good place to shoot a proposed greenway. Our search led us to a swanky neighborhood quite near the Zoo, where after panning the horizon for invisible sidewalks, we spotted a Soccer Mom out for a jog. Moments later she was fanning herself in front of our lens, offering opinions she didn’t really hold. God Bless the Talkative.
TUESDAY: Cameraman Crunch Time
Then there’s the Quick Turnaround. A skill borne of sheer repetition, it’s the ability to turn a 3:30 event into a 5:30 lead. No one likes to do it, but performing meatball surgery can save more than your bacon. It can preserve the sanity of a tortured show producer, who’s already promo’d the Ghetto Preacher six times and doesn’t want to hear one syllable about how the guy has postponed his speech. Trust me, it’s easier to bend space and time than take on a show-stacker hopped-up on office popcorn.
WEDNESDAY: Feats of Charity
On Hump-Day, I journeyed to Pinnacle Elementary School - where, besides one hell of a view of Pilot Mountain, they got a national treasure named Charity Richardson. Wearing bulky hearing aids and a dazzling smile, the second grader helped me put a face on Deaf Awareness Week. Sure, her parents, the administrators and even her interpreter kicked in a few sound-bites, but nothing trumps an on-camera exchange with a child so unafraid to be herself. Piece of the Week!
THURSDAY: Hectic Erection
“Think Extreme Makeover: Playground Edition.” The foreman was right. Minus the male model with the hair gel and megaphone, the Boys and Girls Club of East Burlington looked just like the Sunday night schmaltz-fest. An army of hard-hat volunteers in bright yellow t-shirts, pre-fab jungle gym pieces and a mountain or two of designer mulch. Throw in an orchestra of power saws, drills and hammer hits and you have a television photojournalist’s wet dream. Sorry, Mom.
FRIDAY: Mums on the Move
File this one under S-T-R-E-T-C-H. How else do you turn 700 measly mums into ninety seconds of compelling television? Simple, you play up the fact they’ll soon be beautifying the White House lawn, overshoot the repetitive action and poke a little fun at your old pal Steve Troxler. Before you know it, you got a glistening chunk of B-Block gold, complete with petal-popping visuals, conveyor belt sound pops and for the folks in the cheap seats, a few patriotic overtones.
Somebody roll credits, it’s Bourbon-Thirty.