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.