See, the thing about shooting TV news is, there's never any closure. You can crank out ninety second epics until your lens goes limp and know about the only thing you've done is prop up a bunch of Viagra commercials. Don't get me wrong: I like my job! But if a feeling of satisfaction ever lasted for more than four hours, I'd do more than call my Doctor. I'd run outside and make sure there were still call letters on the wall. Maybe then I'd know if the alternate universe I somehow stumbled into still offered a bi-weekly stipend, for that and a shelf full of chrome-plated figurines can buy you about ten minutes of respect in this business. But I'm not complaining! I'm simply coming to terms (again) with what I have to look forward to, should that whole pampered gadfly thing never work out. I'm guessing it won't - and while the idea of a slower, balder, fatter me dozing off at ribbon-cuttings makes my current temples throb - I gotta get a handle on where this, ahem, 'career' isn't taking me.
It's different in the beginning. At least it was for me. In my early twenties and courting failure, I took to the not so noble pursuit of slingin' lenses with evangelical zeal. Back then, there was nothing I wouldn't do in the name of news. Wanna drop me into a prison yard with antique gear and a red-hot intern? I'm game! Need someone to grab fresh sound at the horsefly convention? Giddy-Up! Everyone else refusing to follow those beekeeper-preachers into the hood? I'M your huckleberry... Yes, for me the Dawn of the Nineties was a time of self-discovery. Who knew my lead-foot, attention deficit disorder and cat-like reflexes could provide me with a lifetime of wrinkled press-passes and floorboard ketchup packets? (Well, there was that one guy in the dingy fishing vest, but HE won't talkin'). No doubt about it, learning about life through a logo'd tube was a mind-beding way to spend my Twenties... At (nearly) 43, not so much.
Is that because I'm wiser? Wider? Whinier? Perhaps. But part of why I no longer hold any illusions when it comes to news is the vacuous nature of broadcasting itself. Simply put, it pays NOT to pay attention. That way you won't notice you've been repeating yourself since the Clinton Administration. It won't bother you that all your blood, sweat and fears fade into the ether quicker than a golf course fart. Hell, you won't even mind that the intern you once taught to edit now decides how you'll spend your day. Denial ... beats a lobotomy! Maybe I'd feel different about my chosen field were there more opportunities for advancement, instead of a corporate stepladder covered in gaffer's tape and tobacco spit. Probably not though... Now for the disclaimer: I really do dig what I do (in theory). The days I work alone I'm in nothing less than a trance and I go home on those evenings grateful to have used my limited skills for good instead of evil. The only real question is: Will I one day look up from my wheelchair at the Old Photog's Home and regret wearing the stripes of a lifer?
Let me get back to you on that...