I keep my fancycam's controls proudly set on MANUAL, but my head ... it's stuck on Auto-Reflect. It's always been that way - even before I shouldered a Sony and started repeating myself. What's that, you say? Isn't a life behind the lens the very definition of exciting and new? Well, Yes and No. Mostly No. Truth is we news shooters adhere to a routine. We follow our own tracks so often, even mailmen shake their heads. We trot out more old props than a magician's assistant. And we repeat ourselves more than your Uncle Louie does when he lies about killing all those guys in Korea. Don't believe me? Here, I'll prove it - using nothing more than four photos I just now found on my phone. Let's review:
Hey look - it's a freakin' polar bear! Actually, his name is Wilhelm and he's a friend of mine. We first met back when the North Carolina Zoo rescued him from a Puerto Rico traveling circus (you read that right). Wilhelm (Willy to his peeps) is a fairly rare bear whose goofy grin and lackadaisical style has made him a crowd favorite and keeper sweetheart. I know this, because I've dragged my glass around the North Carolina Zoo 7,000 times. Not that I'm complaining. (It just sounds that way.)
Ever raced to the middle of nowhere just to lay eyes on a cop car convention? I have - and so has every other tripod jockey on this heartless orb. In fact, the far-flung car wreck is such a staple of news-gathering, they even teach it in college. I'm kidding - they're far too busy pontificating on The Fourth Estate to touch on something as esoteric as when to slip the state trooper your business card, or how to handle that nineteen year old volunteer firefighter who wants you to park six miles back and hoof it up to the scene with half a TV station on your back.
TIMMMM-BER! Yeah, whatever. Once upon a time, chasing storm damage really appealed to me. Then I picked my way through about a thousand debris fields and the novelty of playing pick-up sticks wore more than a little thin. As is stands (or leans) now, I've hovered over more fallen trees than a first year lumberjack. But it only took a half dozen to realize all that broken wood is nothing compared to the stunned expressions found on the sweet people whose yard you're standing in. I'l just let myself out - through what used to be your garage.
Of course, I don't turn intrigue into monotony all by my lonesome. Well, not EVERY day. No, on regular occasion I work with our fine staff of on-air reporters and among that lot you'll find none finer than Winston-Salem bureau chief Brent Campbell. That's him - adjusting his microphone and wondering just what in the hell I'm up to. Pity the reporter who has to hear my schtick long before its turned into pixels. Brent, though, he can take it. Dude's seen every bit of inanity I have and he doesn't even blather about it on-line. Guy like that's got a real future.
I just wish this silly business did.