Monday, January 09, 2012
Remember kids: study hard, take your vitamins and you too could spend a drizzly January afternoon videotaping an illegal tire dump. Better yet, just do what I did: fail at everything else first until fate places you well below your station. For me, that station was a CBS affiliate I grew up watching, a charming little fixer-upper brimming with living legends and even crustier gear. I learned much there, In fact, I learned more during my four (plus) years at the Roy Park School of Broadcasting than I've picked up anywhere since. And that, ladies and germs, is increasingly the problem. See, there's a reason local news shooters don't bring down major coin: it ain't that hard. Yes, it takes a certain dexterity and an artistic bent never hurts, but when you get right down to it, the fundamental skills needed for news gathering are, well, fundamental.
Now, before you e-mail me copies of your doctorate in telecommunications, understand a couple of things: 1) I'm dealing in generalizations here and 2) I couldn't give less of a rip about your sheepskin. I've been outperforming better educated colleagues since before Bush the Elder yakked in that Prime Minister's lap. Back then, I thought I knew it all too but a not so funny thing happened on the way to total enlightenment... I began repeating myself. Ten thousand newscasts will do that to a fellow, no matter how many industry websites you write for. And while I know in my shriveled photog heart that I'm better now than I ever once dreamed of being, try telling that to the twenty-three year old co-worker who acts like he scaled Mount Vesuvius just because he called shotgun on his first cop car ride-along. Better yet, let him talk. It's only cosmic payback for the way you used to run your mouth.
Besides, he'll get his. I really can't say if local TV news (as we know it) will be around in twenty years, but if it is, I promise you the heavy lifting will be done by a handful of burn-outs who always meant to go design holograms or train robots or some other such nonsense, but never set the lens down long enough to pick up on anything else. See how this works? I didn't at first, but after climbing the corporate stepladder and realizing dress shoes hurt my feet, I came limping back, all too aware of the kind of Arrested Development that awaited me. Speaking of TV shows, touring today's tire pile with my pal Charles Ewing was like living through an episode of 'American Pickers' - without any chance of treasure but plenty of male bonding. Mr. Ewing and I have many a misadventure. We've crashed gold mines, house fires and a few time-space continuums. All of which makes a colossal tire pile par for the course, sooo as we tried not to sucked into a vortex of moldy rubber we both had to laugh, knowing somewhere out there a nation of cubicle dwellers dreamed of the kind of assignments we've grown to loathe...