Sure, we talk about going to the National Association of Broadcaster's electronic media show for all the new technology, but the real reason we fly to Vegas every couple of years is the B-Roll Bash. Why? It's a good time. B-roll.net founder Kevin Johnson goes out of his way to put on a spread: free beer, finger food, complimentary vendor trinkets ... did I mention free beer? Still, it take more than hops and barley to drag me to this synthesized oasis. It takes people. And the people who attend the b-roll bash are kindred spirits. sure, there mostly TV news photographers who speak in light temperatures and body bags, but one can't choose who they naturally identify with, can one? Don't answer that; just know that for a guy who spends way too much time hunched over a keyboard alone, it's downright revelatory to meet who folks who actually read his drivel... There I go speaking in the third person again. Hell, if anyone should refer to themselves that way, it's a couple of gentlemen I had the pleasure of clinking glasses with last night.
First is Les Rose: the CBS News legend known for lensing Steve Hartman's brilliant 'Everybody Has A Story' pieces. Beyond that, Les is also known for his work with the Poynter Institute and university work. He is, in my line of work, a rock star. Not only that, he's a heck of a nice guy. Both times that I've met him, he's made a point to say he reads my stuff; an admission that quite honestly makes my head spin. If the Les Roses of the world can stomach the contents of my lowly blog, I must be doing something right. It's that quiet knowledge that will help keep me sane the next time I'm trapped at a ribbon cutting, or stuffed in the front seat of a police car with a viewfinder in my face.
Secondly is Al Tompkins. If you work in TV News, you most probably know who he is. If you work in TV News and don't know who he is, you are a fool. A senior guru at The Poynter Institute, his "Al's Morning Meeting" is read by more than 20,000 people a day - most of whom aren't nearly as clever as him. There's a reason his book, "Aim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters," which is used by more than 70 universities as their main broadcast writing textbook. It's unadulterated wisdom: the kind of thing every young TV journalist should commit to memory. I did - a long time ago.
Both Al and Les were generous with their time last night. It's probably no secret I'm frustrated with where my writing is and isn't taking me and together both of these legendary figures plied me with praise, sound advice and the ocasional chicken wing. Thanks, gentlemen. If I fail to achieve my literary goals, it won't be your fault. Sure, I'd sacrifice a limb for a peek at your collective Rolodex - but by granting me a moment or ten of your time, I can leave Vegas with both arms and legs - provided I stay out of the casinos.