Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This blog has moved to a new home

My blog has continued, but is in a new home. I needed one place to put everything! Thankfully, now I have it.

On the News Desk

Thank you for reading and for following!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Walking into the middle of the dance with no rhythm to add

Drove back from Vegas this morning. Rushed to work. Walked into a newsroom that was buzzing with urgency of covering tornadoes. I've been gone for a week. Almost every day that I was gone there was severe weather coverage. (Many have joked tornado alley moved, but actually I believe this is more traditional to Colorado weather patterns and what's been out of the ordinary is the lack of such weather.)

It was obvious this dance had been done quite recently and people were in auto-mode; which does not mean less effort. If anything, it's more effort. Interns sat answering phones and taking the calls they could to let the desk and producers do their jobs. Anchors were making cold calls to businesses and homes in the tornado area to see if they could find witnesses who would do phone interviews. The reporters and photographers were already on the road. Producers were writing and ordering graphics to be made of the pictures emailed or shared via Twitter by witnesses. Managers were working with the program department to clear time for live cut-ins for live updates. Finally, the desk, my home, was moving news crews to reported areas of damage, calling officials for information that could be aired, calling potential eye witnesses for interviews.

My two desk coworkers each took turns rapidly filling me in on what was happening and what crews were where in what live trucks. I replaced one coworker by taking over the hot seat. There's no better way to get caught up then to jump on in! But it had been a week since I'd been in this seat. The breaking news dance was going on around me with everyone already in practiced steps. There wasn't much I could do but try to keep up with emails and help with the phone calls. There were only a few minutes left of the live cut-in so I wasn't even needed to arrange phone interviews. I even tried to jump on Twitter and Facebook to at least help in those tools that are sometimes overlooked. Today they weren't overlooked. I didn't make one entry on either station account until after the breaking news coverage was over. I did what I could on my Twitter account, but I was late in the game and sometimes it's best not to play catch up in social media platforms that are so instant that breaking news can quickly become old news. So I said hello and thanks to those on Twitter who welcomed me back. I tried to explain what are crews were doing and answered a few questions.

The fast-paced dance I'd walked in on had slowed down to a waltz. The danger of the severe storm was over. There was little more I could do here but help our crews with directions. Frankly though the crews were the ones in the field and had to find sporadic tornado damage in a large rural area on their own. There wasn't much I could do to help them.

As things slowed the new cut-in times were given to the producers and they decided what elements were to be used in each cut-in. I alerted the crews to the plans and shouted in the newsroom what each crew had or had not found that could be broadcast. Everyone was well settled into his or her individual tasks. For me that was monitoring the desk and assisting others when needed. My third desk mate signed off for the day leaving me alone on the desk with a calm newsroom, and even relatively quiet scanners.

I'm left waiting for the next dance.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Two too many Jennifers...

Friday night, 9:58pm: I hear the producer say over the RTS "Misty - Somebody tell Jennifer Zeppelin we're less than a minute away from the show!"

My head snaps up and I see Jennifer McRae half-way between me and the weather center. "Jennifer! Go tell Jennifer Zeppelin we're less than a minute away!"

Jennifer looks at Jennifer Miller standing across the producer pod from her. "Jennifer! You've got less than a minute! RUN!"

Me: "NO! Wrong Jennifer! Jennifer Zeppelin, ZEPPELIN!"

I'm not heard because Jennifer McRae is still yelling at a confused looking Jennifer Miller. I hear Jennifer Miller exclaim, "Me?! Now?!" She takes off running out of the newsroom.


Jennifer McRae "OH!" She starts running to the weather center as she's yelling after Jennifer Miller, "Wrong Jennifer - not you! You're fine! Not you!" But it was too late Jennifer Miller was long gone down the hall.

From I hear the producer, "Never mind, Jennifer is good."

"NO! Jennifer! Jennifer is now good! Don't need to..." I was too late, Jennifer McRae had rushed into the weather center to tell a perfectly prepared Jennifer Zeppelin that she had less than a minute.

She comes back out breathless. I just broke out in laughter. Then she was laughing with me.

The whole event took place in less than 30 seconds, but it seemed much longer. So much confusion with all the Jennifers!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Abortion stories are never taken lightly in the newsroom

Yesterday I took a call from a woman so upset I knew she was shaking from head to toe to yell at me. She and a man in the background were furious that the newscast used a statement from a local abortion doctor, Dr. Warren Hern, and his picture. The statement was released to the media by the local doctor himself on his reaction to the fatal shooting of Kansas abortion doctor, Dr. George Tiller.

The caller truly believed our phones were "ringing off the hook" with furious complaint calls like hers. Worse, she believed by airing the statement and picture the station had signed his death warrant. She demanded to know who had made the decision to do the story.

I calmly looked in the script to see who had written it. Next I searched our information database to confirm where the original information had come from before I told her the script had been approved by the executive producer and it was all done with Dr. Hern's permission since he'd emailed the media himself to release the statement. She called me a liar and hung up me. I'm pretty sure she was muttering I was a murderer as she slammed the phone down.

Her call was the only complaint call the newsroom received regarding this story. I others reacted the way she did, they chose not to call. After she hung up I did brace myself for similar calls, but sighed a breath of relief when none others came.

I know many people believe media is there to push it's own agenda and has no care in the world on how people react to the stories. This is simply untrue. We are all very aware of how passionate people are regarding pro-life and pro-choice. There isn't a person in this newsroom that would ever track down an abortion doctor just to air his picture to cause him harm. Decisions regarding any stories on abortion are discussed thoroughly and are not taken lightly.

In telling the tragic news of Dr. Tiller's killing, we looked for local reaction. The order of stories was: update on the killing and the suspect in the case, followed by Dr. Hern's statement followed by a statement from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput. None of the stories lingered on either statement or said anything other than here's local reaction.

We strive for fair and balanced. We never strive for outrage and hate.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh the frenzy one missed email causes

I've mentioned this before and will mention it again: we received HUNDREDS of emails DAILY from PR professionals, viewers, and Public Information Officers. To handle all of the emails we have one email address that goes to all of us on the news desk as well as all of the producers. The more eyes that can see what is sent to us, the better the chance something isn't overlooked.

This is exactly what happened today. A police department sent out additional information to a situation we'd covered today. The new information completely changed who we were covering the story. What was just going to be a mention in the newscasts, turned into a reporter package. The press release also stated the PIO would be available to do interviews at a specific time. However, this press release was only sent to my coworker on the desk, who was so overwhelmed by other desk duties, he didn't see the email until AFTER the interview availability time.

I really don't understand how things like this happen. We have made it very clear to every major PIO to always email the desk account to avoid problems such as this! All day the desk email address received the updates on this situation. How does one update only get sent to one individual email instead of the desk account? If anyone can explain, please do.

When it was realized what happened there was a frenzy of action and shouts as we tried to figure out how to still get the interview. What crew to send? How soon can we be there? What other elements do we still need to get to do a larger story now there are new developments? What changes needed to be made the to 5pm and 6pm newscasts?

My coworker called the police department since he was the one who received the press release. I called another organization looking for another interview to add to the story. My call went smoothly. My coworker on the other hand was on the phone for at least 10-minutes with the PIO explaining why we missed the email and asking for the PIO to stay afterhours to do an interview with our only available crew who was 30-minutes away from the police department. (Ugh. I admit I was glad I was not on that phone call.)

In the end the PIO agreed to stay for the interview. The PIO never could explain why the email only went to one person instead of the desk account. That's frustrating. If that email had been sent to the right email address, we wouldn't have missed the interview time, the PIO could've gone home on time, and in general we'd have avoided a headache.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No, I don't watch TV while I'm on the news desk

I have the Nuggets playoff game on the TV to my right and I actually have the volume up just enough so I can make out what is being said, but it's no louder than any one of the 11 scanners that surround me. This is rare. I have so much else to pay attention to I rarely pay any attention to the TVs. Same goes for the producers and writers doing their job to get ready for the newscasts. Unless we're watching another station's news lead or breaking news coverage, the TVs get little attention.

Just a few minutes ago I answered the phone and was asked what song was just sung for George Straight. What? I had to tell the caller that I didn't know what he story he was asking about and I asked if he knew the date of the story that aired.

He paused, "Um, I'm talking about the show on your air right now. What song did SugarLoaf just sing for George Strait?"

"Sir, I'm sorry I didn't realize you were asking about current programming. I don't know what song was just sung."

"Don't you watch what you broadcast?" he asked.

"No, sir, I'm working and am not able to watch the TV, but I'll ask if any of my coworkers happened to hear the song." I then asked the producers if they had been watching our air. Their answer was no as well.

"Sir, I'm sorry, none of my coworkers were watching the show either. We don't know which song was just sung for George Strait."

"I don't understand how you don't know! Unbelievable you don't watch your own programming." I could hear the genuine surprise and disbelief in voice. He continued with a sigh, "Ok then, have a good night." Click.

I can't count the number of times I've had conversations like this. I don't know how many times I've had to say, "I only have access to information that ran in the local news. I don't have access to other shows, even national news that is aired."

I bet most of you aren't able to watch TV while on the job. So why would it be different for me?

In the silence

It's as silent as it ever gets in the newsroom. I only hear background noise of scanners, keyboard keys clicking and a far off television. My shift is only half over but I feel spent for a job that is relatively sedentary.

I'm spent because from the moment I walk in the door until about this time every night it's go go go time. I may walk off the desk to track down photographers, editors, engineers, producers, etc., but I'm mostly confined to the news desk where everything comes at me. Constant phone calls. Emails that don't stop. Producers, reporters, photographers and interns ask for help. I may not be physically spent, but mentally I'm done or at least I need a break to rejuvenate.

With the way schedules work on the desk I'm not usually able to take a break. If I take a break it has to be before 5 p.m. but I only come into work at 1:30 p.m. and am slammed most of the time and unable to actually get away. I even eat on the assignment desk!

Today besides the usual craziness and duties of the assignment desk I also pitched several stories that the producers actually wanted. Usually I'm good for one or two stories out of every 10 I pitch, but today I was three for three! I had to multitask to set up these stories for future newscasts at the same time as I was dealing with today's newscasts. It's what has to happen when everyone else’s business day ends at 5 p.m. I have to reach all the contacts on their time tables, not mine. This made for an extremely busy afternoon. I am thankful there was no breaking news added to the mix.

Although if there had been, I still would have made all the calls necessary and done all that was asked of me. That's what it means to be on the news desk. Everything comes through this desk, through me and my coworkers on the desk. When the desk is left out of the planning and the conversations, bad things happen. Live shots are lost. Stories are lost. Crews end up at the wrong locations. It makes me shudder to just think of this!

We yell A LOT in the newsroom. It's usually the only way to be heard over all the other noises. So when I say it's relatively quiet right now, I mean for the first time of the day I can actually hear my own thoughts and process the day and what's still to come.

As long as there's no breaking news I will be able to catch up on all the tasks I have to put off until this time of day such as filing emails, writing up news tips, emailing producers with the stories I've set up, etc. I'm thankful for this time of day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Thank you, I'll pass on your comment"

In less than an hour I took three calls where with a sigh I just said, "Thank you, I'll pass on your comment."

The first was from a viewer who claimed no news media until today had EVER done a story on waterboarding and the government use of it. At first I was going to interrupt to tell him of the multitude of stories the station has aired on both the national and local levels. I couldn't because the caller was on a rant and I couldn't get a word in anywhere. At one point I wondered, "Has he taken one breath? He needs to be careful or he'll pass out."

You may ask why I didn't just hang up, and that's a good question. I have one rule I follow with phone calls: cussing at me or calling me names equals an immediate hang up. All other calls are dealt with on a day by day basis. For this call I think I was so amazed at the pace he was going, that I didn't even think about hanging up.

Finally though he started to really yell. That's when I loudly interrupted, "Thank you, I'll pass on your comment!" CLICK.

The next two calls came in back-to-back during a special town hall meeting on job searches the station was hosting and running live. The program was almost over when I received the first call. The caller demanded to know why I'D put on such job "experts" because, in his opinion, they were all "quacks" and I should be ashamed for sponsoring such a program. He paused. I think he expected me to argue or something.

Calmly I said, "Thank you, I'll pass on your comment." To this I hear with a question in his voice, "oh, Okay." Then with a stronger voice, "You do that!" CLICK.

I'd just put down the phone when it rang again. This time it was a woman complaining about one of the panelists. According to the caller the panelist only destroyed people's lives, never helps them. "She is always late to appointments and never returns emails!" she exclaimed. ""Thank you, I'll pass on your comment." CLICK

Sometimes it's just not worth arguing. It's not worth my time or energy to get worked up about the calls.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can I handle any more news?

Today is so not yesterday. Today was busy to start because of back-to-back meetings followed by the rush to actually get caught up on everything with only an hour to go before news-time. Yesterday started off with my coworker saying, "Oh, by the way your night side photographers are screwy today" and ended with this Tweet "WMF PIO: confirms 14-yr old arrested for arson and reckless endangerment for starting the fire. Suspected of playing w/a lighter near bushes."

It was so busy that I realized around 10:30pm that I'd FORGOTTEN to eat. I remember rushing around and looking at the clock at 7:22pm and saying to myself, "oh, I gotta eat." The thought was gone in less than a heartbeat as I was off to the editing department.

Here's my timeline:

1:30pm: I walk up to the news desk. "Hi guys, anything exciting happening today? Wow, that's a busy board!" (referring to the assignment board) My coworker tells me, "No, but there's a lot of live shots. Oh, by the way your night side photographers are screwy today." He went onto explain that one of the three photographers isn't coming into work until 6:30pm, and another is scheduled to engineer the satellite truck and also shoot a 6pm live shot. That left me with one photographer to work with two reporters. But, my coworkers had decided to play musical-photographers by having a dayside photographer assigned to work with a night side reporter until 7pm. At that point the third night side photographer could switch out to work with the reporter.

Make sense?

1:35pm: With my head spinning I walk into the afternoon editorial meeting where I'm asked to Tweet the meeting on @cbs4denver. I slide into the chair and start to Tweet away.

2:27pm: I walk out of the meeting to the assignment desk.

2:28pm: My coworker shouts, "Remember the Neveah Gallegos case? The DA and DPD are going to have a press conference at 3:30pm to announce developments."

2:29pm: After the flurry of, "Oh, yes I remember that case!" The executive producer decides witch news crew she wants to cover the press conference. I page the photographer to come to the newsroom to tell him what's happening and to assign him a live truck. Then I talk to the 5pm and 6pm newscast producers about what they'd want from the news crew and the press conference in the shows.

2:52pm: I finally sit down at the assignment desk and log into the computer. (Pretty close to the exact time because I sent my first Tweet saying I was logged in at 2:53pm!) I fill out the live shot sheet for our feed room. I knew the shows were filled with live shots, but writing them all out I realize that five out of five microwave trucks, two satellite trucks and Copter4 were all going to be used for live shots! Next I start to go through the 200+ emails in my inbox and do general desk work, i.e. check on news crews, answer phones, Twitter about the press conference.

3:38pm: "CBS4 News this is Misty." "Misty, this is Sonny (DPD PIO) who's in charge of the newsroom today? Is Wieland (news director) there?" I knew by his tone something was definitely happening. I transfer the call to the news director and wait until I hear, "Misty!" I rush into the news director’s office and am asked if we have a crew at Louisiana and Mississippi because Sonny reports our crew is in the middle of a SWAT situation! I didn't know about a crew being right there, but in a flash both the executive producer and 10pm producer were in the office too. They say the reporter had just called and told them a plain clothes detective had approached them on their way to 7-11. The detective told them they needed to move to safety because they were in the line of fire!

3:44pm: PRIORITIES: move news crew to safety and move a live truck to the area to be ready to go live. The crew was going to the location of a homicide over last weekend for a follow-up story. Even though police wouldn't confirm they were looking for the suspect, they did tell they were in the area because of the investigation. Remember I said five out of six live trucks were in play for the newscasts? Well, one of those trucks was for a live shot at that 7-11, which obviously wasn't going to happen now. This was an easy solution! So we wait, keep in touch with the crew and go on with our news day.

6:14pm: I pick up the phone and before I can even say anything I hear, "The suspect is in custody! Police have the suspect! We've got it on video." "OK!" I respond as I put the reporter on hold and shout the news out to the newsroom. We were still in our 6pm newscast and wanted to get a live shot on the air, and the reporter wanted another photographer at the scene to help the crew.

6:15pm: I find out the night side photographer who wasn't coming in until 6:30pm was already at the station. I run to editing to track him down. I ask him if he's on the clock yet because I need him to cover breaking news. He leaves to go to the scene.

6:22pm: I call the live truck photographer to make sure he was knew the plan. While I'm on the phone, the reporter calls back to tell us DPD will have a press conference at 6:45pm. If we wanted them live at the scene, we'd have to find another photographer to go to DPD. The extremely over-crowded assignment board screamed "if you want more from me, you'll have to give up something first!" Just then the second night side reporter walks into the newsroom. This crew is mostly done shooting their story, but the reporter has sent the photographer to shoot some more video for the story. I immediately call the photographer and tell him he needs to turn around to go to DPD to shoot the news conference. "I know you're on your way to shoot more video, but we have breaking news; I have no choice; I need you to go to DPD!"

6:31pm: I hang up the phone just to answer another line. The caller is a media representative for the Democratic party. The state legislative season has officially ended and the Dems announce they will have a press conference on the west steps of the Capitol at 6:45pm. With a sigh I reply, "Ok. Thank you. Bye." I stand up and shout over the newsdesk, "The legislative season has ended. Dems are having a press conference at 6:45pm. If we want to cover this, I need HELP!" To this the executive producer replies, "The Capitol news crew just finished their live shot. Call them and move them to the press conference!"

6:34pm: I call the photographer at the Capitol tearing down the live shot. When he answers I find out there'd been a problem with the live shot and they weren't live at all. I didn't even know this had happened because I was so focused on everything else. I tell the frustrated photographer that I have no other choice, but he needs to move to cover the press conference.

6:40pm: The reporter is on the air with a live report from the scene of the suspect arrest.

6:50pm: The Capitol reporter calls to tell me the Dems aren't anywhere near being ready for a press conference. "It's going to be way after 7pm!" He tells me. "Okay, you're off in 10-minutes, I'll have another photographer there by 7pm," I reply.

6:51pm: I call the photographer in the satellite truck. "Where are you and how much time will it take for you to get to the Capitol?" He tells me he's about 10-minutes away. "Good, go straight to the Capitol to shoot a press conference with the Dems talking about the legislative session."

7pm: I hear from the satellite photographer. He's at the Capitol in time.

For the next hour I work with a reporter and an editor on getting documents scanned for a story. I take a breath and start to work on everything I'd let slip by me. I go through emails. I make final corrections to a blog post for PRSA Colorado on how CBS 4 News uses Twitter.

Shortly after 8pm: I hear West Metro Fire being called to a townhome fire. As I'm focusing on the fire call, I hear from a photographer that there's a problem with Avid in editing and he can't load any of the 7-11 suspect video. "What are we going to do about the live shot? I can't even load the video!" He says to me. "The reporter has to be live, if the editors have to help edit the story, they will!" I respond.

8:11pm: My attention snaps back to the scanner when I hear, "a suspect is in custody" come over the speaker. At this I shout, "We have to go to this fire. A suspect is in custody, which means this is an arson fire and several townhomes are damaged!" The producer asks, "What will it take to get there?" I tell him, "I send the photographer in the satellite truck, but that means the other two photographers are now responsible for their own edits and will have to engineer and shoot the reporter live shots with out any help. There's been a problem with Avid, editing will have to help if you want both reporters to be live." I tell the satellite photographer to go to the fire as I step off the desk to go to editing. The two editors tell me they can help on both reporter stories if needed to get the live shots.

8:30pm: It finally seems like we have a handle on everything. I spend the rest of the night monitoring the fire, keeping the photographer at the fire updated, and making sure the other crews are good.

9:52pm: A news crew trying to establish a live shot outside of DPD calls. "I'm sending the reporter back to the station! We can't get the shot in!" He tells me.

9:59pm: The reporter rushes into the newsroom and onto the newsroom camera to go live in less than four-minutes.

The newscast happens.

It's finally over.

Could I have handled more news? Yes, but something else would have had to be given up to make it happen!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lesson of the day - communicate

Today was a comedy of errors on the assignment desk. We didn't miss any breaking news or mess up any big news stories, but it did cause a headache! In less than an hour we found out that an event wasn't shot as planned and found out the photographer in the satellite truck for a reporter's live shot at 6pm was at point A, which was miles away from reporter, who was in the actual location point B!

The event we missed was for a short story, a vo/sot, for the 5pm newscast. The photographer received the page during the morning to do A, B and C, with C being shoot a 3pm event. The photographer apparantly got wrapped up in assignment A but we never heard from the photographer. We found out the event wasn't covered shortly after 4pm when we finally talked to the photographer. Two arguments can be made: it was the photographer's responsibility to check in with the assignment desk or the assignment desk should have followed up with the photographer to make sure the plan actually worked. Both arguments are right and because we didn't communicate with each other, we lost this story.

About 45-minutes later we get calls from the reporter who was scheduled to be live in the 6pm newscast and a call from the photographer operating the live satellite truck and shooting the live shot. The calls were frantic and confused! They were in two locations, and at that time of day, they were at least 50-minutes a part! Next there's confusion and a bit of shouting in the newsroom as we figure out what exactly happened. Finally it was determined the reporter had been on two stories that day and the desk had sent the photographer to the first story location, not the second story location, which was the live shot location.

The information clarifying the live shot location was in the computer the whole time. I come into work in the afternoon so I wasn't aware of the morning conversation. I was told the information was in the computer. Then I asked my coworker if he knew about the live shot location. His response was yes. I took that to mean he knew the information in the computer, but really it was the information from the morning he knew. Confusing, right? All of this lead to the miscommunication.

We sent a photographer from the station to help make the live shot happen. The live shot went on as planned. DEEP CLEANSING BREATH!

Lesson of the day - communicate. Check-in and clarify all!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Arbor Day. Who knew?

This afternoon was another comedy of errors for the news desk. I walked out of a meeting with the news director to hear a reporter say into his cell phone, "Now, that's an answer out of my pay range. Let me have you talk to someone else." He handed to phone to my coworker on the assignment desk.

I logged into the computer and kept an ear out on the conversation. It sounded like my coworker was trying to have a picture emailed to us for use in a story. The reporter then started telling us in the newsroom that a media outlet in Nebraska wanted to wheel and deal for a mug shot that we were requesting.

A mug shot is normally viewed as open to the public. It was a shock to hear another media organization tell us they'd only send it to us for a, b and c. (I honestly don't know what they were requesting. It could have been anything from credit for the picture to payment for the picture.)

The mug shot had to have been released to the media in Nebraska originally by the arresting police agency. A producer in the newsroom beat me to saying, "can't we just call the sheriff."

As ridiculous as the above sounded to me, the next thing I heard was a jaw dropper.

"I called the sheriff's office and was told no one was in the office because it's Arbor Day," my coworker said.

What? Many in the newsroom echoed my sentiment. What?

Then the Nebraska jokes started, and well, I am and always will be a Nebraska girl at heart. I couldn't just stand by as Nebraska and Arbor Day were made the fodder for jokes.

I went to the edge of the desk and said loudly, and animatedly, "Don't you know Arbor Day began in Nebraska? It is a big holiday for Nebraska. You see long ago, someone, I think the governor, planted a forest for his wife who dragged out west with him from the eastern states to settle in Nebraska. She missed her trees so, and her husband loved her so much he didn't want her to be sad. He planted her a forest, and now Nebraska has the largest man made forest. of all the WORLD."

With all eyes on me and jaws visibly gaping open, I finished with a courtesy. That brought on the laughter and questions of the man made forest. I went on to explain the original forest was planted so tightly together, it's virtually impossible to maneuver through as the trees have all grown together. "Not even animals can live in the forest!" I exclaimed.

"What do you mean? Where do the animals live then?" a producer asked.

"The land animals live in the outer edges of what is now natural forest, but the trees are filled with birds, insects and other tree animals!"

At that there was more laughter, more jokes, and then comments on the Archway over I-80 in Kearney, Ne. I chimed in on the Archway, exclaiming, "It has the longest escalator in all of Nebraska!"

Okay, it's time for the whole truth: everything I said today is how I remember being taught about Arbor Day. I admit I may have some of my facts wrong. So I looked Arbor Day up on the internet. The history of Arbor Day explains everything, and I wasn't that far off. J. Sterling Morton wasn't governor, he was a journalist, and he did plant trees and flowers for his wife after they moved from Detroit. Oh, and one other minor fact. J. Sterling Morton didn't plant the man made forest, he and his wife just had a love for trees and flowers. Charles E. Bessey, botanist, started the man made forest.

Now that I'm all caught up on the facts, I still choose to believe the romantic side of Arbor Day and love it even more as it was started by a journalist.

However, Arbor Day is still no excuse to NOT work and to NOT release a mug shot to the media. What would J. Sterling Morton say to this?

Written Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Email tips that make you go "what?"


This is what I sent the ASPCA.

I would like to report cruelty against some poor squeal's in a tree. I was taking my dog out today at about 10:30am and I was standing in my front yard. Then I heared these tree removal people cutting a branch off a large tree to clear for the "under-constuction" Light Rail behind my house. I didn't think anything of it at first, Then one guy up in the tree w/ a chainsaw said "Check out this squeal at the top of this branch!" , he laughed, "Get a good spot to see it fly!". I was stunned, it is at least 40ft in the air that this branch was located. Before I could react he started chainsawing the branch, With the crack of the branch, Three poor little squeal's fell to the ground from the top of the branch. I dont know if they are O.K. or not. For all I know there dead, because they landed in my neighbor's yard. Well I thought you all should know about this.


I've noticed lately that the email news tips we receive have been well written and well thought out. Organizations are doing their own PR by sending us tips and information on their events through www.cbs4denver.com. This has changed from past email tips that leaned more towards the crazy and the absurd. Sometimes these emails were so angry and so poorly written. I'm honestly not seeing this so much any more. (We still have regular crazy, ranting emailers but I have my inbox set up to auto send those to the trash file!) Once in a while though we still get emails that just make me stop and say, "what?"

This is the case with the email above. What's so shocking is this person's use of "squeal's". I think this person means squirrels, unless there is some new animal species of which I'm unaware. Not only did this person email the station, but sent the same letter to the ASPCA. I don't think the ASPCA would know what to do about "squeal's"!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm responsible for the verdict

Yesterday the jury in the Ward Churchill lawsuit against University of Colorado decided the verdict. I listened on the phone (no live feed from the courtroom) to the reporter who repeated the judges words as the verdict was read. I shouted out what the reporter told me and I Tweeted it at the same time. I shout a lot in the newsroom when I need to get out information or move crews! It had been hectic leading up to the verdict because we only got a 15-minute warning before it was read. We had one photographer there monitoring the courtroom but no reporter. The reporter and another photographer got to the courthouse in time to hear the verdict. I thought it would be smooth sailing for me from there and was enjoying the Twitter conversation the verdict created.

Then we went on the air at 5pm and many heard the verdict for the first time. The phones started ringing. I was shocked. The majority of the Twitter conversation was in support of the verdict, with only a few who were against. The phone calls that came in were all upset by the verdict. Some of the callers just wanted to leave a comment and were polite. Others yelled their opinions and insisted I do something about the outrageous outcome. They hung up without me even uttering a word. Then I answered the phone and heard, "Yes, dear, this is Jane Doe. Did I just hear right? Ward Churchill won?" The voice was that of a curious elderly woman. I sighed a breath of relief at hearing the kind voice.

"Yes, ma'am. The jury ruled in favor of Ward Churchill."

To my complete surprise at hearing my answer the seemingly kind, elderly woman went OFF. I can't remember all that she said to me, but for five minutes she bellowed about ignorant jurors and lawyers. She claimed to have a background in law and was just beside herself at the stupid people now in law.

I kept quiet and just listened. Then she switched angles and decided I had some part in the jurors decision. "And you, young lady, you're the media, how could you let this happen!?"

My internal monologue scrambled in confusion to what I was no hearing. My initial reaction in a situation like this is to stop the caller from saying such ridiculous statements. But, the words just jumbled in my throat. I couldn't talk back to this woman. I just kept hearing my grandma in my head say, "Don't sass me, young lady."

So I didn't. I took the blame for the verdict. When she calmed down and finished I simply said, "Yes ma'am. Thank you for calling. Good bye."

I hung up feeling eight all over again after being scolded for fighting with my younger sister.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How Twitter & I work together

Twitter allows interaction with the viewers I'm trying to reach. Twitter allows Tweeps to share in my day, share my journey of news each night. Twitter makes the news more than just headlines. Twitter allows transparency in news coverage. Twitter allows Tweeps to have ownership in the news.

All of that is possible in Twitter because Twitter is what you want it to be. You can make Twitter work for you in any way that you want. I use Twitter for all the above reasons.

I have two simple Twitter Rules:
Be courteous

I've shown myself to be an average person, just like you, doing my job that happens to be in news. Tweeps follow me and now trust me. This became apparent Friday night when I received a this Tweet FROM @RR5280:

TO @msmistyj My daughter jst got home says she just witnessed a hi speed police chase invlving 6-7 police cars chasing a Passat(?) In WR/Arvada"

I hadn't heard it yet on the scanners. At that point I was in breaking news mode: listen, confirm, analyze, cover. Below is my Twitter conversation through the night. See for yourselves how viewers responded and helped me cover this breaking news. (Unless the message starts with FROM, the Tweets are mine directed to other Tweeps and all that follow me. When the message starts with FROM, that is a Tweet sent to me.)

1. @RR5280 how long ago? I'm hearing something now that's requiring Air One to assist in a search.. but have no details yet9:49 PM Mar 27th in reply to RR5280

2. FROM: @RR5280 TO @msmistyj About 5-10 minutes ago she was at 52nd and Wadsworth. Chase was going south on Wads so already you've prbbly got 2-3 jurisdict ...

3. sounds like we've got a perimeter around 47th/Lamar.. incident started in Arvada, ended in Wheat Ridge w/suspect on loose9:53 PM Mar 27th

4. @RR5280 I'm not sure yet what suspect is wanted for.. hearing 1 BOLO for a domestic abuse suspect, but have nothing confirmed yet9:54 PM Mar 27th in reply to RR5280

5. FROM: @angel_elle3300 TO @msmistyj several police cars blocking the north bound lanes of wads at i70

6. @angel_elle3300 thanks! I think there's a suspect search, but don't have details yet.9:55 PM Mar 27th in reply to angel_elle3300

7. @angel_elle3300 @RR5280 all Arvada dispatch will tell me is there was an ax NB Wads @ I70. Sounds like there's a run vehicle involved.9:57 PM Mar 27th in reply to angel_elle3300

8. FROM: @joshclauss TO @msmistyj Following you makes me feel safer and scares the bejesus out of me all at the same time.

9. @joshclauss tell me about it! I hear scanners in my sleep... good dreams and bad9:58 PM Mar 27th in reply to joshclauss

10. Arvada PIO is checking on situation for me. From what I can tell, 1 or even 2, accident scenes, now a search requesting Air 1 & K9 units10:01 PM Mar 27th

11. Arvada PIO CONFIRMS suspect fled from @ least 1ax scene. Poss. suspect was involved in 2 ax. Air1 & K9 searching. @RR5280 @angel_elle330010:06 PM Mar 27th in reply to RR5280

12. Scanner has perimeter set up in Wheat Ridge jurisdiction. Can now hear crews on the CLEER ch. an inter-agency ch. for them to communicate.10:09 PM Mar 27th

13. NOT confirmed: one of these accidents may have resulted in a fatality. Photographer is headed to scene10:13 PM Mar 27th

14. @angel_elle3300 thanks. PD think suspect is on foot following clear creek. He's injured, trailing blood. @RR528010:17 PM Mar 27th in reply to angel_elle3300

15. FROM: @angel_elle3300 TO @msmistyj wads closed both directions police lined south side of i70 but harlan exit open eastbound

16. @angel_elle3300 thanks for road info.. that really helps the photographer who is trying to get to the scene10:20 PM Mar 27th in reply to angel_elle3300

17. can hear the a K9 unit barking while searching for suspect who may have lost his shoe in clear creek.10:24 PM Mar 27th

18. I'll be checking w/photographer thru the night, but I must leave the news desk for now. Thanks for following 2day!10:36 PM Mar 27th

19. Photographer finally headed back 2 the station. PIO went 2 scene 2do interview. CONFIRM suspect driving stolen vehicle crashes & flees.12:31 AM Mar 28th

20. Arvada: CONFIRM driver of 2nd vehicle was taken to hospital in critical condition. Suspect still on the loose. Search ongoing.12:31 AM Mar 28th

21. Arvada: that's all we'll get 2nite. Will have 2 follow 2morrow.12:32 AM Mar 28th

22. Arvada: photographer checking out reported location suspect could be. @ScanColorado reports suspect is in custody @ 4720 Otis12:35 AM Mar 28th

23. FROM: @aarondelay TO @msmistyj and @scancolorado you guys are rocking it out...loving the news and scanner reports!

24. @aarondelay thanks!12:47 AM Mar 28th

25. Photographer reports: "Got the shot." Suspect in Arvada in custody. Good night all. My news night is over. @cbs4denver is always on12:48 AM Mar 28th

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If you're a saint, why don't you ask God?

Yesterday I was on the phone helping a viewer when I hear my coworker say into the phone, "If you're a saint, why don't you ask God?" Pause. "What do you mean, what do I mean? You say you're a saint, so ask God."

It took all that I had in me to hold my laughter as I helped the kind, sane viewer on the phone with me.

It's been quite a while since I have talked to a someone like that on the phone. For a while there, especially after 9/11 there were tons of these callers. These people called so often I knew there voices.

These are a few of the people I've conversed with over the years.


I would answer the phone, "CBS4 News, this is Misty" and hear, "God here." The older male caller would then tell me about many things, but mostly about how he created the world. His stories changed at first, but then he saw the truth and shared with me that he wasn't just a god, but that he was the son of god. He was a beam of light that ran after and caught another beam of light. As a beam of light he mated with the beam of light he caught, and that created the world. After saying, "God here," he would just pick up in his story wherever he'd left off. No, I didn't always answer the phone when he called. We all must have hung up at about the same point in his story!

Government conspiracy

A woman called often to get an investigator to talk to her. She insisted the government had implanted a chip in her spine to monitor her at all times. She said the pain was unbearable. Eventually, the government caught up with her again and implanted a second chip in her brain.

Bush is the anti-Christ

After the hanging chads were all counted, a woman wrote a very long, very angry, very belligerent letter about President Bush. She wouldn't even let me get out my greeting on the phone. By the time I had the phone to my ear she was SHOUTING out her letter. I've banished all her words from my memory because they were just so hateful. She too would just pick up where she'd left off when someone hung up on her. I think she started to figure out who each of us was because she would start her letter again in the exact spot she left off with me, though she may have gotten a little farther with someone else. If that person picked up the phone, she picked up in that spot too. Crazy!

Then there are the shocking people who come to the station. The most notable was years ago and, thankfully, was not a repeat visitor. I used to work a couple of 4:30am shifts per week. One Thursday morning as I'm getting my eyes to focus on the words on the computer, I hear on the Denver scanner: "Units respond to CBS4 News, 1044 Lincoln St, on a disturbance in the lobby."

I just sat there staring blankly at the scanner as I tried to understand what I just heard. The phone rang. It was someone on ch. 9's news desk calling about the scanner call. I had to tell her I had no idea what was happening.

I called the security desk, but no one answered. I told everyone in the newsroom what was happening and then we heard the sirens. Two cop cars pulled up in front of the building. The newsroom is on the second floor and the entrance to the building is almost directly under the newsroom. We couldn't see what was happening.

Then the police left. They'd been here for less than five minutes. I called the security guard again. This time I got an answer.

A man wearing what looked to be a straight jacket walked into the first entryway to the lobby. He couldn't get into the lobby because those doors are locked at all times. The guard was there and questioned the man over the speaker box. The man demanded to speak to a reporter. He claimed he'd just walked out of Denver Health Medical Center when he was supposed to be monitored at all times. When the guard wouldn't let him in to speak to a reporter, he said he had evidence of the incompetence of the hospital. He then pulled two vials of blood from his pants. He started screaming the vials were filled with his HIV positive blood. At that the guard called police. Police took the man into custody without incident.

Like I said though, it's been quite a while since I've had a habitual, crazy caller stalk the newsroom. I still have my usual callers who call to comment on anything and everything, but I don't classify them as crazy. I listen politely and hang up when the call has ended.

The call yesterday, according to my coworker, was a man claiming he and his brothers and his mother were all saints and he wanted the station to do a story on something. My coworker never understood what story the saint wanted us to do, which is why he responded, "If you're a saint, why don't you ask God?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twitter tips & apps for journalists & everyone else

An effort to understand and utilize Twitter in the newsroom and in life has lead me and my husband, @Edit_Foundry, to search the web and read, read, read. We've found many articles and followed many Tweets on using Twitter. I've decided to start listing what we've found that has been helpful to me as a journalist. My goal is to keep everything in one place so I can easily access it all.

Please use my list, add suggestions and check it out occasionally as I will update it as I find new information to share. The newest links I post will be @ the top of the list.


This is another web-based Twitter viewer. Twitterfall is supposed to be live, real-time Tweets. I've used it at home just fine, but at work, it doesn't work well at all. It's worth a try if you don't want to continually refresh Twitter and don't want, or are unable, to download any applications.


Go to this website to register your zip code. LocalTweeps then groups all of the zip codes registered. This is another tool I can use to seek out Tweeps in the viewing area I am targeting.


This allows you to see which of your Tweet friends are friends with each other. This really shows you the connections in your Twitter community.

Twitter Apps

Twitter's very own site with popular Applications for you to download.


A user powered Twitter Directory. You add yourself to the directory and categorize yourself with hashtags. Someone searching through the directory will find you by searching hashtags.


Twitscoop was built to help you stay on top of twitter's hot topics or discussions.
Through an automated algorithm, twitscoop crawls hundreds of tweets every minute and extracts the words which are mentioned more often than usual. The result is displayed in a Tag Cloud, using the following rule: the hotter, the bigger (no joke here).


This is something I'd like to try and have only ever found Tweets that like using this app. "TweetGrid is a powerful Twitter Search Dashboard that allows you to search for up to 9 different topics, events, conversations, hashtags, phrases, people, groups, etc in real-time. As new tweets are created, they are automatically updated in the grid. No need to refresh the page!"


I use this application at work and at home. So much happens on the desk that I don't have time to continually refresh Twitter. Twhirl is a social software desktop client, based on the Adobe AIR platform. I like that I can keep several Twitter accounts open and running at the same time. I like that DM and replies are different colors so I notice them when they are received. This way I can respond quickly to these messages.


I haven't used this application, but it's on my to-do list. From everything I've read, it's a very useful application.

"Tweetdeck is a realtime application that allows users to monitor that information in a single concise view. Tweetdeck currently integrates services from Twitter, Twitscoop, 12seconds, Stocktwits and now Facebook.

But at the heart of Tweedeck, is it's ability to group people together and search across the twittersphere. Grouping friends or work colleagues separately means you have a window on all aspects of your twitter life. Searching across the twittersphere means you can monitor any subject within Twitter. These additional columns automatically update so providing the user with a very effective dashboard of realtime information."


How active are the Tweeps you are following? Twitoria will show you. I have specifically targeted metro Denver and other Colorado Tweeps. I know I've followed a few Public Information Officers, but I haven't seen any updates from them. Twitoria will show me if these PIOs are utilizing Twitter or not, or if I've been missing their Tweets.


Twitual is my newest favorite! (Thanks for finding it my dear husband!) It lists Followers - everyone I'm following
Friends - everyone following me
Mutual - following each other
Fans - Tweeps following me, that I'm not following
Idols - Tweeps I follow but don't follow me

Again, since I focus on specific Tweeps by location, and I search out organizations that I converse with or follow daily as news sources, I want to know if these Tweeps are following me back. If I see a PIO is not following me back, I'm going to contact that PIO and request to be followed. Am I being aggressive? Maybe. But, trust me, if you converse with me on Twitter, maybe later I won't be paging you after hours and on the weekends. Or if you Tweet breaking news, I can let you do your job of gathering the info instead of paging you which takes time from you when you call to let me know you have nothing for me but are working on it. Sure I can just watch your Twitter feed and send replies, but sometimes there's breaking news I'm on first that I don't want my competitors to know about. I want to DM you. I can't DM you if you don't follow me back.

Oh, and I know only 2 of the 4 other TV stations in Denver are following me back. I may share a little more breaking news on Twitter now that I know this. Hmmm...


Yellow pages for Twitter. No need to say more!


I have not yet used TwitterLocal, but it sounds exactly like what I need in my never ending search to connect with people of Metro Denver and Colorado. " TwitterLocal is going to be purely an Adobe AIR based application that allows you to filter Tweets by location."

Twitter Advanced Search

Until I try TwitterLocal, I will continue to use the Advanced search options Twitter give you. Check it out.


I'm just starting to play with this, but I like it so far because I can see 100 followers at one time.


I'm just starting to play with this one as well. "Tweetree puts your Twitter stream in a tree so you can see the posts people are replying to in context. It also pulls in lots of external content like twitpic photos, youtube videos and more, so that you can see them right in your stream without having to click through every link your friends post."


"Twittfilter is a web based application to help manage your incoming tweets and twitter followers/friends. With Twittfilter you can: Address Book, New Follower Notification, Sorted and Searchable Tweets." I need to play around with this one.


Need tips on any subject? Check out TwTip. "TwTip is designed to find and show awesome tips that are shared by Twitter fellows."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Twitter has made me a better assignment editor

I have seen several blogs and news stories about Twitter and how Twitter is changing journalism. Previously I've discussed the future of journalism in the face of new media a.k.a. social media a.k.a. advanced media. I've decided to throw out my two cents on how social media has recently affected me as a journalist. I hope to give fellow journalists some ideas on what they can do as well.

CBS4 News launched Twitter a few months ago and then created a CBS4 News Facebook Fan Page last month. It's been a learning process that's partly dive right in and see what happens and partly go with caution and test the water first. There isn't a day that goes by where I'm not part of a Twitter and/or Facebook conversation in the newsroom.

I've become somewhat of the Twitter expert in the newsroom simply because I dove right in and let it take me on an uncharted course. An @cbs4denver Twitter team was formed in February and I wasn't asked to be a part of the team. Soon after I got tired of not understanding what Twitter is and how it was going to be used. That day I created my own Twitter account @msmistyj.

I had no idea what I was doing. All I understood was that Twitter is a continual status update in 140 characters or less. I also knew that I could follow people and could be followed.

My first mission was to start following people. I started by using the find people function in Twitter. I searched for words like news, wine, garden, green, subjects that interest me. I quickly learned that this function only works if these words are a part of the Twitter users name, but that's all I had so I started to click follow.

I don't remember my first Tweet, but I do remember sitting and observing for a while. One of the Tweeps I followed is an assignment editor in Columbus, Ohio. He does what I do, so I really paid attention to his tweets. I started to see conversations he was having with community members and even with other assignment editors at a competing station! These competing assignment desks were tweeting about breaking news, beat calls, coverage plans. They were picking on each other, congratulating each other and empathizing with each other. I was SHOCKED.

From the searching I've done, I say 10TV and NBC4i in Columbus, Ohio are truly using Twitter to its fullest potential. Most every single member of the newsroom has a Twitter account. It's truly amazing.

It was then a light went off.

People don't just want headlines, teases and promos thrown at them. They want interaction. They want to know what's going on and to have the chance to weigh in on the situation.

Without talking to anyone at the station, I started tweeting what I was hearing on the scanners. I tweeted about phone calls. I tweeted about the craziness of covering news.

Just seeing my Twitter name doesn't tell you that I'm in news. I knew I needed to directly target metro Denver Tweeps. I jumped on the area print and TV twitter pages and started to follow the Tweeps that were following these news sources. I followed only the Tweeps from the metro area and other parts of Colorado.

I continued to Tweet. I paid attention to what everyone was saying and if I felt I could contribute to what was being said, I joined in on the conversation. I shared personal thoughts and information. I shared CBS4 News web links when I thought a story on the website could help provide information.

I am very aware of what I tweet so I don't give away exclusive coverage or share anything with the other stations in Denver that I don't want them to know. Yes, they are following me. Do they really know who I am and I am their competitor? If they're paying attention to my tweets or have even read my Twitter bio, they do. Denver is not like Columbus, Ohio where the desks talk and share openly like that.

Within three days of Tweeting I was actively involved in multiple conversations. I was contacted by a media outlet in Boulder requesting someone to interview regarding the station's DTV switch plan. I was surprised and thrilled with this. People were associating me as a news source. (At this point I emailed the news director and came clean on my Twittering because I had to ask him about the interview request! I wasn't surprised when he told me he'd been following what I was doing and he cautioned me to be aware of what I shared on Twitter.)

Next I noticed a Tweet from @moneyinmarriage on an essay contest she was hosting with the prize being free financial planning/counseling for engaged couples. I checked out her bio and clicked on her website. The moment it opened I knew she was a source for a Beating the Recession story, which is a series the station is currently running.

She was interviewed and the story ran just over a week after I started using Twitter. Since then I've made contacts with several potential story contacts and have had two more stories packaged and aired. I'm sending out tweets almost daily looking for specific individuals to interview for stories the reporters are turning.

I then used Twitter advanced search so I could find all Tweeps in Denver and surrounding areas. I followed everyone I could. People were following me back and suggesting me for others to follow. People were retweeting my tweets to share breaking news, strange news and even my general comments.

People know that I am a real person doing my job just like they do their own jobs. I've gained their trust. Now they contact me with story ideas or possible breaking news situations in their neighborhoods. They share their opinions with me and we have conversations about news coverage.

What I am doing on Twitter is being noticed by several people. I've been thanked for providing another news service. Just today I was sought out by a Twitter API partner, Wikimetro, to join this social media site. (What's way odd is that I directly emailed at work. My work email is not associated at all with my Twitter account. So I was really sought out for someone to research to find my work email.)

It is truly and simply amazing.

This week @cbs4denver started tweeting during the editorial meetings to share the news process and to encourage feedback and story ideas. The responses and interactions have been encouraging and are growing. During these meetings @cbs4denver is no longer just a headline service.

People are noticing what we are doing. They appreciate participating. I feel there is now more transparency in what I and the rest of us do in this newsroom. This is a great feeling. As a journalist I feel better about what I do than I ever have in the past.

In the past two weeks I have had daily conversations with coworkers on how to use Twitter. Coworkers are starting to set up their own personal Twitter accounts as well as contribute to @cbs4news.

Today I believe it was said that I have dual Twitter identities. This is absolutely correct. When I contribute to @cbs4denver I share headlines and seek out input on stories in a professional manner. As @msmistyj I am more open and use Twitter lingo and converse freely. I still don't give away any of the station's news integrity and whenever possible I lead Tweeps to @cbs4denver, www.cbs4denver.com and/or the CBS4 News Facebook Fan Page.

I close out my Twitter convo almost every night with: Scanners are calm. My news night has ended but @cbs4denver is always on! Become a fan of CBS4 News on Facebook http://moourl.com/a10y2

Tweeps have told me they are now converting too or have converted to Channel 4 viewers because of what I share on Twitter. I know for sure one follower even joined the Facebook Fan Page because of me. (She sent me a Tweet telling me so!)

Twitter has made me a better assignment editor. Since I want to tweet to keep the conversations going, to keep me relevant to my followers, I'm listening more closely to the scanners than ever before!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting a mug shot shouldn't be this hard

Last night I received the below press release and thought it was written odd because it's missing information that is usually included like description of the suspect, the date of birth, hometown, etc. I figured it had been sent out because of the unusual crime: an angry man throwing a computer monitor across the room in a store. This is something you'd normally see on TV dramas only. We don't receive releases on criminal mischief such as this often.

Lone Tree Police Department
News Release
Type of Incident: Disorderly Conduct / Criminal Mischief
Case Number: 09-0608
Date: March 16, 2009
Time of Release: 7:30 p.m.

On March 16, 2009 at about 2:00 pm, Officers of the Lone Tree Police Department responded to a disturbance at the AT&T Mobility store located inside the Park Meadows Mall. The investigation indicated that Sean Williams had been involved in a verbal altercation with the clerk at the store. He then picked up a computer monitor and threw it inside the store. The monitor was broken and also caused damage to a printer and signature pad. Total damages are estimated to be 1200.00 to 1300.00 dollars. Sean Williams was taken into custody without any further incident and transported to the Douglas County Jail where he posted bond.


I figure this is funny and deserves a Tweet. Within seconds of Tweeting, I see the Associate Press is reporting New Jersey Nets Forward Sean Williams has been arrested in Denver. What? Our computer thrower is an NBA player?

Well, now it's no longer just a funny incident to Tweet, it's news we have to confirm ourselves and report.

My first call is to the PIO for Lone Tree, a small city in Douglas County SW of Denver. Of course it's 7:40pm and she's gone for the night. I then call dispatch to request the on call PIO to be paged. The dispatcher asked me what the page was for and after I explained, the dispatcher transferred me to the jail telling me the people there would help me.

I was transferred to a never ending automated phone system that hung up on me. I quickly dialed Douglas County Dispatch to see if anyone there could help me. The dispatcher didn't even let me finish my request before she put me directly through to the jail. I took this to mean she'd already received a media call requesting the mug.

Ring Ring
"Detention Center, this Rachel"

"Hi Rachel, this is Misty with CBS4 News. I'm calling to confirm Sean Williams of the New Jersey Nets bonded out of jail today and to request his mug shot."

"Oh... I need to put you on hold."

On hold I sat listening to this country/blues type jingle, which was toe tapping at first and then quickly became brain tapping-ly annoying as it continued for 7 minutes and 46 seconds. I twitter about being on eternal hold to get Williams' mug.

"This is Jerome. Have you been helped?"


"How long have you been on hold?"

"A few minutes... and then a little more!" I said jokingly because I don't want to sound harsh and hurt my chances of getting what I want. "I've been on hold waiting for someone to help me get a mug shot. I'm Misty with Channel 4."

"Oh, I am so sorry and I'm sorry but I have to put you on hold again because the Sergeant is who you need to speak to, but I promise you won't be on hold for long."

More music drilling in my brain for another minute that seemed like an eternity. The Sergeant answered and kindly explained that he couldn't release the mug without clearance from the PIO.

"Really? I've spoken to dispatchers at both Lone Tree PD and Douglas County, both departments told me I had to go directly through you tonight. Are you sure you can't help me?" I said with slight, but cute, plea.

With a chuckle, "No, ma'am. I'm sorry. But as soon as you get that clearance, I'll get that mug to you."

"Thank you."


"You have got to be kidding me!" I shout in the newsroom for everyone to hear. "It's all a ploy to prevent me from getting that mug! Well, they've messed with the wrong assignment editor!"

I Tweet my frustration with the situation and pound out the dispatch number for Douglas County. As soon as my call is answered, "Yes, this is Misty with channel 4 again, please page the PIO so I can request a mug shot."

"Oh, let me transfer you to the jail th.."

"NO! Don't transfer me, I've already been transferred to the jail twice and I finally spoke to the Sergeant who says he CAN'T release the mug without clearance from a PIO first!."

The dispatcher tells me, "Well, then you should call Lone Tree police cause he was arrested by them, not sheriff deputies."

"NO! I called Lone Tree first and their dispatcher told me I had to go through Douglas County!" This part is a white lie. I hadn't been told that, but I knew that's what I would be told when I called Lone Tree next. I've played this game many times.

Sigh. "OK. What is your name again and your number?"

I Tweet more frustration and receive several responses of encouragement. One response made me laugh and pumped me up to continue in my endeavor.

From @RR5280 I received, "It may be time to open a can of Fourth Estate Whoop Ass. Don't they know who you are?" Haha! Thanks RR5280!

Without even putting the receiver down I hang up and start dialing Lone Tree. The dispatcher at first kindly took my information and then when he heard I was calling for the mug, he tried to tell me I had to talk to Douglas County. I told you I know the game.

I admit I cut him off in mid sentence so I could explain that Douglas County just told me to contact Lone Tree. "At this point I don't care which PIO I speak to, but I expect one of them to give approval for this mug shot to be released!"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll page the PIO."

"Thank you."

The Douglas County PIO called back first to tell me that she would release the mug, but that I had to send her an email request first.

An email request is protocol when I am dealing with a suspect arrested by Douglas County. However, Lone Tree arrested Williams so I had been following the instructions they gave me, which was to call the jail, which lead to the rest of this frustration! I shoot off the email and within minutes, I receive the mug.

Tweet responses congratulated me.

Then an officer with Lone Tree called. I thanked him for calling and explained I had him paged at the same time I paged a PIO for Douglas County so I could get the mug of Williams. He said he knew and that he understood there's been some trouble, but that it's been decided that Douglas County would handle the request.

"Thank you sir, I've actually just received the mug. Good night."

Any police department of any size should know that when a professional sports player is arrested in metro Denver, an area that thrives on sports, the media is going to call. We're going to call to confirm details, gather more information, request a mug shot, and yes even ask for surveillance video of the computer monitor flying through the air.

The PIOs should have been prepared. To save themselves all this trouble and from being paged after 8pm, they should have released all details in a more thorough release and included the mug shot from the beginning. It would have saved us all the headache.

Sometimes it feels like the PIOs want to cause my headache though!

Oh, does anyone know what a "Fourth Estate Whoop Ass" exactly is? Sounds tough and cool. (Just like me! LOL!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

You don't know me. How dare you make assumptions!

I understand hot button issues. I expect to receive calls on issues that people really care about. But, PLLEEEAASSSE, please, I implore you, keep your temper in check and just talk to me. I am a reasonable human being. I will discuss your concerns with the story with you. I will pass on your complaints to the reporter, producer, and even the news director.

I just hung up the phone on a woman extremely upset with how a reporter did a story on a bill in legislature regarding in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The reporter never used the word illegal, only immigrant. Governor Ritter says illegal immigrant in the soundbite used in the package. I understand this woman's complaints.

Me: CBS4 News this is Misty

Caller: Yes, I have something to say about the story on channel 4 that YOU just put on. Your lead.. the LEAD story. Do you even know what that was?

Me: You want to know our lead story?

Caller: Yes, you tell me what YOUR lead was.

Me: the tuition bill (in my head - oh she's going to yell at me now.) What is your complaint?

And she did. She yelled about how inappropriate and biased our report was. She yelled about the story making it seem like the immigrants we were talking about had just arrived from Ireland.

Yes, she seriously said that. This is when I interrupted.

Me: "Ma'am, I understand your complaint and I will talk to the reporter. I will share your concerns with her.

Caller: Yeah, right. No you won't!

At that, my temper choked in my throat.

Me: How dare you say that to me! You have no idea who I am or what I will or will not do! I am taking extreme offense with you and your assumptions about me. I have listened to your complaint and now you have insulted me!

Caller: No, you're right I don't know you, but I just thought it was company policy to...

(I interrupt)

Me: That is NOT company policy. The assumption you have just made is absolutely false. If you do not believe me, I encourage you to call the station manager or the news director. I have told you I will pass on your concerns and I will. So, ma'am, I'm going to hang up the phone now. Have a good night!


I hang up as she's saying something that I don't care to understand.

I take a lot on the phones. I hold my tongue when I want to share my opinion, but understand it's not my place because this is a news station and I try to be an unbiased journalist at all times. I take a lot of warm kind calls, along with the abusive, insolent and ignorant calls.

From the caller that brings out all of my compassion to a caller that triggers my temper. Phew... I'm done with the phones today. Drink please: Extra dirty martini, good vodka please.

News can't always help

I received two calls today from the same gentleman who desperately wanted to know if I could tell him if a company was legit or not. At first he couldn't remember the correct name of the company. I used what he had to do an archive search to see if I could find any story that may have been on the company. While I'm doing the search he tells me how he left a message on the CBS4 News investigation tip line earlier and wanted to know if we'd found out anything on the company yet.

The search ended without a single hit. I told him without the proper name, I can't do a search. "But, can't you just tell me if the company is good or not? We only watch channel 4 and I trust the investigators." At this, my mind and my heart both sigh, then; I actually sigh. I can tell this man has a story, has a problem, wants helps, wants news help.

Thankfully he called while the scanners and the phones were relatively calm. I had time to do a google search. With the phone steadied to my ear by my shoulder, I typed away. "Sir, I personally can't tell you if a company is legit or not. I can only tell you what our reporters have found, and if we didn't do a story I can't give you information. I'm not in a position where I can give a recommendation like that."

"Well, you can. You can tell me what you've heard or what the investigators have heard. I just need to know if this company is for real or not. My wife and I saw a commercial on it and we need help. We're looking for a company to help us out of our upside down mortgage before we lose the house."

"Sir, I really can't. Since the archive search didn't find anything, I did an Internet search to see if I can at least find you a link to this company. I didn't find anything this way either."

He couldn't think of the correct name. He just pleaded with me to give him any information I could on this company. "Sir, without the correct name, I can't do a true archive search on our stories to tell you what you want to know." I typed Colorado fore in the search bar before google auto filled the rest closure hotline. (I've frequently searched for this number.)

"Sir, all I can suggest is that you call the Colorado foreclosure hotline. This organization should be able to tell you what you need about this company, and if the company doesn't work for you, they should be able to direct you on how to get help."

"Oh, OK. Thank you for your time. Good night."

"Good night."

Two minutes later he called back. "Hi, I just spoke to you. I remember more about the company. I think it's a law company. That's what the commercial said. And, well, I've been forced into part time hours and my wife she's holding steady, but we... I mean me, not my wife, got scammed in a refinance where we were put in an ARM without our knowledge and now with fewer hours... We need help. I need to know if this company can help me."

In the background I hear his wife telling him he better find out if this company is legit and if it can help them.

"OK sir, you think this is a law company I'll do another search." I started an archive search and then I did a google search. Still no results.

"Sir, I still can't find anything. I still can't tell you anything about this company. I do recommend you call the hotline I gave you."

"Well, but, we're not in foreclosure yet."

"The hotline also helps people prevent foreclosure before it gets that far."

"Oh, OK. Thanks for listening. I hope I haven't taken up much of your time. I'll call the number you gave me. Can I call the investigators next week to see if they've been able to look up information on the company?"

"Of course sir, you can call back next week." I said this knowing full well that no one on the investigative team could do anything more than I did for him because he didn't even know the company name. It sounded like he needed to be told yes on something, even if it wasn't yes this company can save you. So I told him yes he could call back.

Calls like these are draining. I answer calls for help all the time. People need help getting their kids back after a court has taken them away. People need help dealing with a car company that sold them a lemon. People need help understanding why their loved ones have died. People need help dealing with the insurance company. People need help to provide them food, clothing and a home. People need help to save their home.

They call the news. They believe we, the news, have all the answers, can give them the help they need. More often than not, I can only listen and try to offer a little assistance by referring them to an organization that can help. More often than not, my day is so full, I don't have the time to truly listen. I have to cut the conversations short as soon as I find something to give them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A bitter chuckle at Sesame St. layoffs

Sesame Street is eliminating 67 positions! http://moourl.com/3945c

While we all know the seriousness of having more good people out of work, once the news about the Sesame Street layoffs broke some chose to make fun of it as a way to lighten the mood, or to be satirical.

I believe I saw on Twitter a campaign to save Kermit. While I chuckled at what I read and watched, I felt reality weigh on my shoulders. In the last week I've had three college students job shadow me. Next week I'm having another job shadow join me. I show off the station and explain each position. I set the students up to observe newscasts from the studio and the booth. They've talked to the staff, from floor directors to producers to anchors, to get information and ideas about what they can expect while working in a news position.

I've seen and felt their excitement. Their true awe at what we do in the news, reminds me why I dreamt of being a journalist since 8th grade. That's when the sadness sits in and I cover it with a reassuring smile.

I can no longer tell these students, nor the interns that work with us every semester, that they will be able to find a foot in the door at some newsroom if they're willing to work hard, for little money, in small towns that they've never heard of before. I'm not the only one who feels this way. With every job shadow I've had in, a coworker has pulled me aside and asked me if I'm being honest with them about the current economy and the future for every person that makes the news happen.

I don't need to blatantly honest with these students. They already know the truth. They are all students of CSB School of Broadcasting, which locked it's door last week leaving students across the nation stranded. http://moourl.com/bmzip The campus in Denver only opened last fall. This is the first group of students the campus has taught. The morning session at least finished it's final project, but now their reels and radio projects are locked in a building they can't access. The night session was just a few classes shy of the final projects.

These students don't know what to do now. They don't even know if they're getting their tuition of $12,000 plus returned. I can't say no to their requests for a job shadow now, even though they no longer have a school. I used to teach them, as did my husband and several other highly qualified journalists from the metro area. I've seen their hopes and dreams develop as they've learned the business. I encouraged them to call for a job shadow and to apply for internships; which now, they can't even get internships because they no longer have a school.

So I show them all that I can. I teach them how television news is really achieved. I feed their excitement and give them hope.

Am I wrong in doing so? Am I right? I am torn.

As to the Sesame Street layoffs, real people or muppets, if there's a campaign to save certain positions, I campaign for all. My family has lived through a layoff. I've seen my good, qualified coworkers let go. I hear the whispers in the hall of the anticipation of what's to come. I wish it on no one.

The chuckle I experienced earlier wasn't one of relief or joy. It was bitter and sad.

Monday, March 9, 2009

President Obama on 1st reference. Mr. Obama on 2nd

I say it all the time, we've done our job right when in the same day, on the same stories, when we're accused of being too conservative/right AND liberal/left by viewers. When this happens this means we've aired the story with all sides/angles represented. Yeah for unbiased, fair journalism!

Unfortunately, in the issue of referencing the president in our stories we will always be conservative/right for the next 4 - 8 years, as we were always liberal/left during the last 8 years. The difference though between the callers during former President Bush's term and the callers now for President Obama is I've now been personally accused of being racist, instead of just disrespectful. The callers don't even stop to breathe as they yell and rant horrible things as they blame me for spreading racism for stories where Mr. Obama, instead of President Obama, is used.

These viewers have either blocked out, or have never paid enough attention to, how former President Bush was addressed by media, this station, any other network, or newspapers. I can't stress enough that the policy has not changed! The policy always has been: President (name) on first reference and Mr. (name) on second reference.

Using Mr. on the second reference is a sign of respect because in any other story for any other person from a head of state to the man on the street, the full name is used on the first reference, but on the second the last name is used only. If my name was used it would be "Misty Montano says..." on first reference, then "Montano also recommends" on the second reference.

It is true that as of Nov. 14, 2008 the Associated Press did change up the style for referencing people in stories, but those changes could be said to add respect and at the same time be disrespectful. I found the below article The Tines and Democrat newspaper published Feb. 18, 2008 as a response to what sounds like similar complaint calls that I've received. The article explains not only it's policy, but discusses the CBS policy and the Associate Press changes.


I'm tired of explaining this and disgusted at how mean some people are. Were these people not raised properly? Would their mothers approve of using such language and having such rage towards me just because I pick up the phone? I've now added being called racist to the list of reasons to automatically hang up the phone immediately!

Friday, March 6, 2009

When good days go bad

It's day two of book (Nielsen ratings period)and we're chugging along just fine. To be honest, the stress of scheduling all the special shoots and edits for stories that are going to be aired in the next few weeks seems to have eased up. I'm not sure why. There's still a lot of blue ink on our assignment board.

Oh, I should explain blue ink. We keep tracks of assignments on a big dry erase board and several smaller boards depending on the day/stories, and of course in the computer. Assignments are color coded:
Black: story being shot and turned for today
Blue: a shoot for a special project that isn't going to air today
Green: edit a package or two or three or...
Red: live shots

The blue ink is all over the board, and around the blue is all the black, green and red because news today has got to be covered as well. So life can get pretty crazy/stressful for everyone involved to get it all done. It just seems like our plans and past efforts may have eased up on the current stresses. Then again, maybe it's just me and any one of my coworkers would disagree with me!

Today was a manageable day to get everything done. I think I had all of the color-coded assignments planned and handed out by 2:42pm. Yes, I looked at the clock as I talked to the 3rd photographer of the night. As always, I conclude every assignment by saying, "if there's breaking news or something comes up, goes wrong, it all changes."

The assignments did include Photographer 3 to be used for editing all day for stories that air next week, plus a story that was shot by two other photographers that ran tonight. I needed Photographer 2, who shot part of tonight's story, to shoot the Kepler launch party in Boulder. Photographer 2 wouldn't be able to do it all: the pkg shoot, the edit, the vo/sot shoot, the live shot, so I had to reassign something.

Why did I reassign the edit instead of the shoot? I needed to make sure Photographer 3, who needed to edit for next week, actually got those edits done. He probably wouldn't have been able to do the edits and go to Boulder to shoot the launch party. (I must admit here, that one of these two edits for next week was not a must edit, but if I didn't give him time to do it today, he would have had to do the edit on Monday & Monday's scheduled is PACKED. Trust me, it was way easier and smarter to make sure he could do it today instead of pushing it to Monday!)

So everything was going along just fine until 7:55pm when I received a call from Photographer 2 in Boulder. Photographer 2 is one of the most hard working and dedicated guys I have ever worked with and he gave me permission to blog about this.

Me: CBS4 News, this is Misty

Photographer: uh, now don't laugh at me until you hear me out (said w/a hesitant voice)

Me: silence.. OK

Photographer: You told me to take EJ 7 (live truck) and I took the EJ 7 keys, but, I don't know what I was thinking I got into EJ 8 and I stopped at the gas station on the way and now I'm locked out because the EJ 7 keys work in EJ 8's ignition, but not the doors and I got out and locked the doors and now I'm locked out...

Me: silence as my head spinned... What? Uh, so you're locked out of EJ8, but you have keys for EJ7? What? How did you...

Photographer 2 explained it all again to me and asked me to give him a number to AAA or to the police department. As he's saying this, I'm looking at the clock 7:58pm and the launch is less than an hour away. I calculate in my head how long it will take a photographer from the station to get to Boulder to rescue him.

The photographer really truly thought that AAA or police would help him, but I'm not so trusting. I told him to hang on for a sec while I figure things out.

I walked around the desk and asked the Executive Producer and Producer what the situation was with editing tonight. They looked at me with wary eyes, protective of their show, but ready to pounce on breaking news. They were not expecting a story of a photographer in need of a rescue because one set of keys can work in two different ignitions.

An editor joined us in the newsroom and I explained again what I wanted:
Photographer 3 to go rescue Photographer 2, but to do this Editing would have to pick up Photographer 3's 10pm pkg. BUT Photographer 3 needed to do the rescue in time to make it back to the station to set up a live shot for a reporter in the newsroom. (Big breath in cause I used all my breath to explain this to multiple people. Do you understand? Most everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I can draw a graph if you want.)

Photographer 3 leaves the station at 8:03pm. Finally, I get back to Photographer 2 with AAA and police numbers for him to try as well. Of course, I was right and he got no help.

Photographer 3 made it to Photographer 2 at 8:38pm and Photographer 2 made it in the doors in time to get the countdown and all the other pieces for a nice little vo/sot.

YEAH!!! CHEERS!!! WOO HOO!!!! YEAH ME for being fast and smart and insisting this was the only way to get the vo/sot. It was try or let it fail. If editing hadn't been able to pick up the pkg edit, we would have had to let it fail.

Photographer 3 made it back to the station by 9:30 and was set up for the newsroom live shot by 9:50 with mic check and everything ready to go.

Photographer 2, after some more problems with the establishing live truck signal, got his vo/sot fed in by 9:45.

Oh yes, I did have Photographer 1 as well, but thankfully he and the reporter had no problems that I had to fix.

During the many phone calls from Photographer 2 he apologized over and over and over.

Photographer: I can't believe I did this. This isn't me.

Me: I know it's not you. It's OK.

Photographer: It's not OK.

Me: You're right, it's not OK.

Photographer: silence... What?

Me: You won't listen to me, so I decided to actually agree with you and tell you it's not OK. I've told you it's OK and sometimes these things just happen and we have bad days.

Photographer: But, this wasn't a bad day.

Me: You're right, it wasn't a bad day, but sometimes good days go bad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shawn Montano has a shift in attitude

WAIT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ MY POST Future of news/media & how Twitter is moving me there - YOU SHOULD. It explains why I chose to post this article. Cheers! :-)

Below is my article that I wrote for the November 2008 NPPA News Photographer Magazine on my husband, Shawn Montano. He was honored as the Editor of the Year with a party in the newsroom & exactly one week later he was laid off. He asked me to write the article over the complaints of the magazine editor, who thought I would write a fluff, lovey-dovey, piece.

It honestly was one of the hardest articles I've written because I had to keep me, my emotions out of it. I couldn't talk about what it was like for me to come to work day after day after he was let go. I couldn't talk in-depth about what it did to us emotionally. That was not the purpose of the article. The purpose is to honor Shawn and his achievements.

You can follow Shawn on his blog http://blogs.nppa.org/editfoundry/
or on twitter follow @Edit_Foundry
or read several articles on him like:

Below is what I submitted to the magazine editor. This version does not include the minor edits, like punctuation and titles, that were made by the magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine does not post the stories online or I would have posted what was printed & published. I promise, the edits that were made did not change the below story in any way.

Shawn Montano has a shift in attitude

By Misty Montano, Assignment Editor, CBS4 News, KCNC-TV.

Cocky. Arrogant. Difficult.

These are the words Shawn Montano, current NPPA Editor of the Year, uses to describe himself after receiving this honor - the first time in 2001.

"After I won, my only goal was to win again, to be back-to-back EOY," Shawn said.

Versatile. Teacher. Passionate.

These are the words Shawn uses to describe himself now.

If you know he was laid off from CBS4 News in Denver, CO just weeks after the announcement that he'd won EOY, you may think he's been humbled by this slap of reality. You may think this is the reason he now describes himself so differently.

This shift in attitude did not happen in an instant. It did not happen as he packed his belongings and took down his sons' drawings from his edit bay. It did not happen anywhere near the meeting where he was told he was being laid off, after being honored with cake and speeches of acclamation exactly one week earlier, for financial reasons.

This did not happen when he made a choice about his career to stay in Denver for the benefit of his sons, instead of moving to a bigger market with more opportunities and with better pay.

In fact, he now understands he's a cog in the machine; someone who can fill the holes and cut the vo/sots for the newscasts. He says that's where he should be. "If someone realizes I can cut the newscast and a good package on top of that, then I'm more valued than someone who can only do one at a time, or can do both but not as well."

Before being laid off, Shawn believed versatility is the key to be valued in any newsroom in the country. When he started at CBS4 News in 2004 he tried to go unnoticed, but soon his talent for editing was seen and he was given special projects to edit. Then there came a time when other editors were being assigned the special projects and he wasn't able to edit as many packages. "I ended up back to being the general assignment editor, editing daily news, the vo/sots. And I was bored. I decided I needed to develop another craft."

He dabbled in shooting at first, but says he had no drive for it. "I have a history of writing short stories and poems, and I was seeing bad news writing, so I tried, and what do you know? I can write."

He worked with others in the newsroom to get a story shot for him to write and edit. This led to another shoot and another story to write and edit, which led to a writing for a magazine show. "That led to me writing an entire news magazine show, which I was nominated for an Emmy. I've been nominated twice for my writing," he said. "There are reporters who can't say that."

Even after the lay off, he stills believes versatility is what is needed of any journalist specializing in any craft because as print and television newsrooms are changing for economic reasons and to be competitive in new media, like internet, phone alerts, etc., individuals are being asked to do more. Reporters in the middle of their careers are being asked to shoot video or photographs, to edit for broadcast and web, and to write web stories. Print and video photographers have gone from behind the camera, to also writing and voicing their own stories.

Shawn advises finding opportunities in your own newsrooms where you can develop your individualized craft, so you are given the projects that excite and energize you; as well as, find opportunities to develop another talent. If you are assigned to cover or to edit an event as a vo/sot only, but see potential in the story, he suggests for the photographer to shoot it heavy and ask to edit a package that can be aired on a morning or weekend show, or aired as a web exclusive. This goes for the editor as well. "If you get something you can edit and create a good story, talk with your producers and managers to get it put in another newscast or on the web," he said. "Every photographer and editor wants the juice, the good story, sometimes to be the go to guy, you have to make yourself, your dedication, known by finding these opportunities."

In developing a second craft, Shawn says trust is the key. "If you can't get the story shot and done well, then they won't give you the resources you need to do the story."

When Shawn decided to write, he found a good story and then sold his story to the news director, then worked with the assistant news director to figure out the photographer's schedules and resources to be able to shoot the story. "It was a two-shoot story. I was able to work with a photographer on a night where there was an extra photographer on the schedule to shoot the first part. The second part of the story was an all day Saturday shoot. I was able to work with the same photographer who shot the first part of the story, but I had to make a deal with the assignment desk where we would also shoot a vo/sot for the newscast as well as our story. So we shot our story and shot news of the day."

This story was well liked and soon the weekend producers were willing to work with Shawn to get more stories for their newscasts. If Shawn couldn't go out on a special shoot, he spoke with the photographer shooting the package he knew he'd be assigned to edit regarding the video and shots needed for the story. Even reporters who wrote these stories were willing to listen to Shawn's advice on how to write the story. "My best stories on my Editor of the Year tape came from Saturday shoots where I worked like this with the photographer and reporter," he said.

After he was awarded his first Editor of the Year, Shawn was asked to present a seminar in the yearly NPPA Cutting Edge. This also attributed to his attitude shift. He started to teach. He met people in all stages of their media careers yearning to learn everything from editing basics to reason behind the physical edit.

He found that he alone was not the big picture, but that putting on good news for television, web, and print is the big picture. "A good story is a story with people in it. I want to see a good story about people. If it's a fire. How did it affect the people there or near it? If it's a snow storm. How did a mother and her kids get to school that day?"

The editing of any story or vo/sot is an essential part of telling a good news story. "Good editing should help a story flow well. It shouldn't be a distraction. Things like inappropriate tight shots and overuse of natural sound can often get in the way of a good story," Shawn said. "It should flow with the story, not get in the way."

Shawn took over as director of The Cutting Edge in 2005. "I've tried to make it a little different from other NPPA seminars. I took a little from Airborne and a little from Norman and added my own ideas. I decided to maintain the same faculty year to year and to build the seminar as a team."

He also made it a round table event where the three faculty members, himself, Matt Rafferty, an award winning editor, and Lou Davis, an award winning photographer, show their pieces and all three then discuss each piece to explain it and to critique it. "We've had disagreements on pieces that we've shown. This shows the audience there's ore than one way to do something."

Each year the faculty discusses topics for the seminars and then pick their own material to bring to be shown and discussed.

"Cutting Edge is merely and educational seminar with an emphasis on the craft of editing. I decided it needs to focus on that craft, not the editors, those specific to the job. This seminar is for the newspaper photographers to the television photographer and editor. Shooting for the edit, or the way you shoot, can make the edit much easier and the story better," he said. "I was smart enough to put a very talented photographer on the faculty."

The Cutting Edge X, "The Edit Foundry," was hosted in September by The Department of Photographic Imaging, Community College of Philadelphia. For the first time the seminar was a two-day event that also included hands-on training. "I've always had the ambition of making it more than just showing our material and talking about the pieces. Editing is a very hands on skill. I've always thought while showing the technique we've used, we could also physically edit at the same time," Shawn said.

Shawn worked with Avid to have 24 Avid boxes available to audience members this year. He also loaded a hard drive with raw material for two packages, which was then installed on the boxes by Avid before arriving at the seminar. After the first night of traditional round table seminars, the faculty took attendees to the next level by giving them the opportunity to edit along with Matt. Shawn provided the same script to everyone and then explained how shots should be picked to compliment the script and then explained why an edit is done at a certain point. While Shawn did the explaining, Matt's box was hooked up to a projector so everyone could see what he was doing in his edit.

"I wanted to teach in a hands on class because you know you have shot A and shot B, but exactly how do you edit the two together? When do you start the edit? Is there logic to it? Yes there is."

Shawn admits this first hands on training was a learning lesson for him and the faculty. "There were bumps, but we've learned how to make it better."

One of the challenges the faculty faced was the vast difference in non-linear knowledge from those who attended. There were journalists who were proficient and those who were just learning. A couple of the photographers had their first experience with non-linear editing at the seminar. "Ultimately I'd love for the seminar to be three days. The first day would be round table seminar, second would be an introduction and basic editing course in non-linear, the third would be advanced where we edit together." Shawn said. "But, I don't know if that will happen soon, so I may have to keep it at a two day seminar where those who are hands on training already have non-linear experience. Again, the seminar is not about the editor, but about the craft of editing, so we may not be able to be the ones to teach you non-linear. If you've had little or no non-linear experience, I'd want you to still attend that part of the seminar so you can watch and learn and ask questions."

Shawn's goal for the hands on training portion of the seminar is set up like this. "For example, I'd like the first two hours be where I and Matt show you the raw video and how it is edited to make a story. While we're doing this, you'd be working along with us, mimicking our edits. Then after lunch, you'd be given new raw video and another script and we'd all edit the package in say, two hours. Matt and I would show you our pieces and explain why we edited the way we did and then we'd have you show us your pieces for the same discussion."

As The Cutting Edge is evolving, Shawn has decided so must it's name. The Cutting Edge is now officially The Edit Foundry. "After typing Cutting Edge in a Google search, I found dozens of links for anything but the seminar. So, first, I decided the seminar needed a name where when typed in a Google search, it would be the first link on the page. Second, I felt Cutting Edge didn't say anything about the seminar. So I chose The Edit Foundry because it says foundation or base. The seminar is about just that, a place to start your foundation for editing, your edit style for your career."

The details of next year's The Edit Foundry haven't been decided yet, but Shawn hopes that photographers, editors and even reporters, in television and print, would come to the seminar. "As newsrooms across the country want staff to do more and more, editing is a craft that more and more are going to need," he said.

For the print photographer and reporter and for the television reporter who is now being asked to shoot video or to put slide shows together for the web, Shawn says this course is exactly what you need.

"There are so many photographers who know how to shoot great pictures, but they don't know how to put these pictures together in a slide show to tell a visual story. I see slide shows all over the internet with wonderful pictures that are so well shot, and the reporter or photographer has interviewed someone for the story, but the printed words or narration and the wonderful pictures then put together are not telling a great story. With a little help editing these pictures or video together you can have a great web story," he said. "

Shawn thinks his seminar faculty may need to expand to include someone from just the print side. "I'd love to have someone who has expanded his or her print skills to good story telling with pictures and video for the web on board with the seminar to reach out to more print journalists."

In between seminars he believes there is still much he can do to help others learn and develop their craft. Shawn has started an editing blog at http://blogs.nppa.org/editfoundry/ "I hope to update it each week. It's an educational blog with the focus in editing. I load my packages and discuss how and why I did the edits."

As Shawn continues to be versatile in his career and in the seminar, his change in attitude has lead to future goal. He wants to teach full time when his time in the newsroom is done. Next month he will begin teaching part time at The CSB School of Broadcasting, which is now opening its first campus in Colorado.

That is his future goal, one he hopes is still many years off. In the mean time he is doing all he can to stay in the career he loves.

Ask Shawn now about the reel he's putting together and you may be surprised to find out it's not for the next competition.

"I used to look for the best stories for my Editor of the Year tape. Now, I look for the best stories for my resume reel."

He doesn't have just one reel. Shawn preaches about being versatile and does what he can now to do just that. "I have an editing reel, a writing reel and a production reel."

Shawn, who is a hard-core fan of roller coasters, is currently on his own roller coaster of a ride in his career. In just eight months, he will have worked for CBS Television, Tribune and Local TV. He was laid off in March. At the end of April he accepted a position at KWGN-TV, Ch. 2, a station that wasn't hiring an editor, but realized Shawn's assets that would be brought to the staff. As of Nov. 1, he will be an employee of Local TV due to a joint operations agreement between Tribune, owner of Ch. 2, and Local TV, the recent owner of Fox 31.

The Ch. 2 staff and newscasts will be moving to the Fox 31 facility in February 2009. The two stations will share many of the same resources. At this time, there's not much more that can be said about the situation since many of the details and logistics are still being planned and organized.

One thing is certain. Shawn, as far as he knows, will be making history in Denver. When he officially moves to the Fox 31 building he may be the only person, of any position, to work in all five newsrooms in Denver.

"This is nothing I expected or strived for, but it's worked out this way. I will have a unique perspective on how five newsrooms in the same market operate."