A childhood friend of mine has achieved the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Those of us who grew up with Danny Dant are very proud of him; no doubt he's worked hard to earn his place in that meritocracy. We're a bit surprised though. I mean, who knew when he was passing out noogies in the fourth grade that military leadership would be his calling? Still, I cannot view his ascension without a wee bit of jaundice, for while he was mastering the many disciplines required for that lofty rank, I was shooting ribbon-cuttings. Sure, there's more to it than that, but I can't help but look over my now two decades behind the lens and ask myself... What fields have I mastered?
WEAPONRY - Okay, so the only thing I shoot with are heavily-logo'd fancycams, but over the years I've attained sharpshooter status on everything from those suitcase-sized recorders of yore to news camcorders the size of baked potatoes - provided I remember to remove the lens cap.
ESPIONAGE - From tuning in to competing crew's two-way radio frequencies back in the day to lip-reading Channel X viewfinders from across a crowded scrum to following the other guy's live truck all the way to the cop car convention, all is fair in love and television.
DIPLOMACY - Within the course of a single shift I can corner and interview a County Commissioner, a captain of industry and a freshly shackled crackhead - without ever letting them know I think they're an asshole.
RECONNAISSANCE - As a TV news photographer who thinks and speaks as well as points and shoots, I'm often called upon to size up breaking news scenes - from the faldely-advertised fender-bender that'll never make air to that strange, saucer-shaped craft bobbing in Town Founder's Lake... I NEED BACK-UP!!!
PHYSICAL READINESS - Granted, I'm no Jack LaLanne, but even a forty-one year old schlub like me can't afford to become too sedentary; not whe, at any moment, I may be forced to chase a cadaver dog down a riverbank, sprint up courthouse steps or weasel my way out of a late-breaking live shot.
LEADERSHIP - One may not think of the lowly 'cameraman' as leading the way, but if you've ever been saddled with a reporter half your age, one tenth your life experience and quadruple your wardrobe allowance, well then - you know what I mean.
AERONAUTICS - Okay, so TV news live trucks won't soar through the heavens, but take that hill too fast en route to the school bus wreck and it will take flight - or at the very least, catch some righteous air. Back when I began, I'd regularly break the sound barrier in one of these festooned beasts. These days, it's got to be a Bigfoot sighting - or a soon to be shut-down Chinese buffet.
ENGINEERING - My more McGyver-like colleagues will tell you I'm f-a-r from an electronics expert, but even we inattentive bibliophiles must maintain a certain level of technical proficiency. Why, just last week I managed to troubleshoot an ornery transmitter - after of course I slathered my plight in profane, polysyllabic parlance.
PROPAGANDA - Are you kidding me?