I love my job. No, you haven’t mistakenly clicked on the wrong blog . It’s just that every once in awhile I have to remind myself of something fundamental: I still very much dig what I do. The access, the creativity on-demand, the daily race to meet never-ending deadlines…it all goes quite well with my interloper tendencies, my artistic bent and my raging (but undiagnosed) attention deficit disorder. What other gig calls for equal parts writing and lighting skills on a daily basis? In what other profession could I saunter into a crowed ballroom or a freshly busted crackhouse wearing the exact same outfit and expression? Where else could I people-watch, stunt-drive and hold a million people’s collective attention on my oh-so weary shoulder? Nowhere but Tee-Vee-Nooze, baby.
That’s what drew me to the exciting field of broadcasting so many moons ago. That, and a staggering lack of viable career options. But chances are I’d have turned down a seat on the space shuttle - had NASA come a callin’ back in 1989. For that was the season of my content, a fleeting Honeymoon period when I was happy just to hold a TV camera, let alone ride around with one wedged (all O.J. like) in the back of a white Ford Bronco everyday. But unlike a certain low speed pursuit that was still years away, I slammed the gas-pedal through the floor as I screeched from sit-in to bake-sale to stand-off. It was the early 90’s in small-market North Carolina, but to my delusional inner knight in logo’d armor, it was freakin’ Camelot.
But a not so funny thing happened while storming the castle. My field of vision changed considerably. No longer the eager serf I had once been, callous cynicism replaced youthful vigor, my bright eyes and bushy tale growing slowly into an aching back and thousand yard video-junkie stare. Blame it on a lack of moderation. See, back in my twenties, I hit the news pipe pretty hard, taking deep hits off smoldering wreckage, live truck pollution and intern perfume. Is it any wonder I suffered from the crush of a thousand broadcasts? Can one repeatedly bend space and time in the name of news without throwing their precious point of view out of whack? I damn sure couldn’t.
Today, however, I consider myself a burnout reformed. No longer titillated by every chase and stake-out, I’ve pounded my chest and choked on my bile a time or two. You would too - if you had to endure the relentless pace of the modern calamity cycle, the competing strains of the victor and the vanquished, the flagrant ire of pubescent housecats too girly and weak to ever step outside the newsroom. For this I gave up a semi-lucrative career in auto sales? Yup. Too bad I threw away all those business cards. I could be moving units even as we speak - instead of rushing in and spraying light on dying headlines. Intriguing, sure - but you can’t exactly take zeitgeist for a test-drive, now can you?
I’m not alone. Most career shooters I know suffer the very same disillusions. They just don’t bitch about ‘em on-lien like I do. Instead they huddle in their camera scrums and roll their eyes at anyone without calluses on their hands and soul. But just when the lot of us are awash in disgust, something happens to quell our well-earned wrath. A captured surprise on optical disc, a backstage pass to disaster’s after-party, a happy accident in the edit suite. No, it doesn’t take much for all the politics and tripe involved in the news-making process to melt off the edges, leaving nothing but undeniable truth beaming center-screen. It’s almost enough to make one forget about the office dillweed who’s yet to figure out he’s a walking cartoon.