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 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.