Friday, November 03, 2006

Spot News Apocalypse

While I hunched over my newsroom computer last Wednesday, Eastern Guilford High School burned all around me. Harried coworkers bustled back and forth, barking sentence fragments like soldiers under fire as telephones exploded on evey desk. On the cavernous room's many monitors, flickering images of a smoke plume atop a red brick building signaled conditions at The Front. Four of the screens blared audio as well, a mishmash of excited colleagues - panting voices of people I know, postulating on an event I still didn't quite believe. It was getting hard to focus on the forgettable words before me. But hammer on I did, knowing the minute-fifteen script I was whittling on would probably never air. Not with a fireball swallowing a public school on live television.

For awhile I was giddy not to be there. A fire of that size demands a full-metal racket - wall to wall team smotherage that doesn't come without a few new battle scars. I've stormed that hill a time or ten and no doubt will again, but not today. With a fluff piece in the can and gear to pack for my Nashville sortie, I was initially tickled to loiter at The Rear. But as the compelling pictures poured in I found myself fidgeting in my news cube. History was goin' down a few miles away and I wasn't there to smell it. Foot soldiers like me hate when that happens. So I hunkered low and waited for the hit that never came.

Instead, I watched an awful lot of co-workers and combatants at the top of their game. From the first plume of smoke to the eventual conflagration, lenses twisted and microphones poked, creating a teeming stream of sight sound and data that captivates the audience like no other media can. Breaking news on live television news ain't art, but neither is it visual vandalism. Rather, it's rich with iconic imagery, from the fiery gutting of a public school to the titters and tears of the student body watching. In the end, I was okay with watching this one from afar, but only because my peers provided such a truly bracing view. Can't wait to hear their war stories...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel ya, brother. Working the early morning shift means I see a lot of spot news live shots in the afternoon, and I get just as fidgety.