Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Presidential Visit - Media Circus

I'm sure it's like this everywhere The President goes, but for those of you who don't ever get a chance to see this madhouse, here is a glimpse behind the scenes of the Media Circus that covers President George W. Bush as he travels the world.

Presidential Visit 2

My assignment for the circus, I mean, coverage of the President's trip to Fort Bragg was to head out extra early on Tuesday, drive the 2 hours south and produce a story gauging the community temperature to the War in Iraq.

Presidential Visit 24

Anchor/Reporter Jeff Varner, Myself and intern Scott Myrick (not pictured but credit him with some of the pictures) traveled Ft Bragg's host city of Fayetteville, shot two unique stories previewing Bush's visit and shot teases on the outskirts of the Army Installation.

Presidential Visit 26

Around town just outside of Ft.Bragg newstrucks from local stations to these two from UNC-TV and a rental Sat truck for NBC could be found staking out the post with correspondents, producers and photojournalists all doing basically the same things as us...Looking for a story to tell their viewers about the impending arrival of the Commander And Chief.

Presidential Visit 23

With our 2 stories shot, written, edited and ready to feed we left our livetruck behind at a staging area far away from the facility where the President would be speaking. We boarded the media bus at 4 o'clock and headed to the location of the Presidential event.

Presidential Visit 20

Our Sat truck along with all the other newstrucks were already set up, secured and sniffed out by the security dogs.

Presidential Visit 19

Speaking of security...They meant business. This setup isn't for show. As a matter of fact, I'm not so sure I should have taken a picture of it. There was a bunch more like this all over the place. We were definitely safe!

Presidential Visit 17

We took our video to our truck parked alongside this security set up and fed back our 5 and 6 o'clock stories and teases. We had little time to spare to get up on the risers and be live at 5, 530, and 6.

Presidential Visit 6

Jeff performed near flawlessly considering all the commotion around us. The risers were packed like sardine boxes and with every correspondent and reporter all yakking at once, it could be a bit intimidating.

Presidential Visit 11

And of course when the president comes to town, everyone follows to see him. This makes for a very busy press area.

Presidential Visit 9

We were positioned at the end of the riser beside the NBC Newschannel, who, thank goodness, already had a nice light setup that I could cheat off of. It would have been tough to squeeze any more lights up there.

Presidential Visit 12

And we were all sliding and squeezing especially when more cameras wanted a spot on the top row.

Presidential Visit 8

But it was all good. I didn't get to stay to see the President speak. We finished our 6 o'clock live and talked the media bus driver into making an unscheduled 20 minute trip back to the lot where our vehicle was parked.

Presidential Visit 7

Meanwhile the rest of the circus, I mean, news organizations, like CNN and CBS and FoxNews and NBC and ...... Stayed to see President Bush.

Presidential Visit 3

No detail was left unturned. Carpet clean, check. Sound, check, Media rolling tape, disc, data, whatever, check.

Presidential Visit 14

And with all the urgency of breaking news in an LA car chase....not really....the president spoke at 8. I was done with supper and driving the 2 hour trek back to homebase by this time, catching it all on an FM talk station.

Presidential Visit 27

Guys like CBS's John Robert's were left to continue where Jeff Varner and myself left off. Of course, as CBS's Chief White House Correspondent, Roberts is at this circus for every city on the tour.

Presidential Visit 28

Meanwhile I am thinking this was a cool day, probably the last one like it for a while. But you never can tell.

Friday, June 24, 2005

With Great Malice: THE VIDEO of an Unusual Robbery

When two patrons walked into the convenience store on West English Road in High Point where Marion McKinney Jr was working his shift I'm pretty sure the last thing McKinney was thinking was, "Alright, this is it, I'm fixin' to get robbed!" may HAVE crossed his mind. I once worked a short stint as a store clerk in my college days and there were always a lot of customers on every shift who had that shady look that made me wonder whether that customer had plans beyond buying beer and cigs or general rowdiness.

Probably even farther out of the reach of McKinney's wildest imagination was how the robbery would go down.

Here it is.....PUSH PLAY on the Video Controller(you can right click on the video box to make it larger)

The robbery happened this past Sunday. A husband and wife were arrested for the robbery and the assault on Wednesday.

Stewart "Lenslinger" Pittman met with McKinney on Thursday for an interview for the TV side. He files this blog about McKinney's reaction to the incident.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Car through Store Front - Your other Left!!!


Regardless of what you think the sign hanging over the back of the little white car says, Frank's Shoe Service on Bessemer Avenue was closed on Tuesday after the car's driver mistakenly planted her foot on the wrong pedal on the floorboard.


Her inadvertent mashing of the accelerator sent her car screaming through the front door of the business, taking with it the entire storefront, but somehow leaving the Open sign hanging over the entrance.


A customer who was inside the store was pinned between the car and the counter. EMS crews took that person to Moses Cone Hospital with injuries a police lieutenant told me did not appear to be serious.


As my cross town colleauge and I worked to get our respective 30 seconds worth of video clips for the evening news, the rubberneckers slowed on Bessemmer to catch a glimpse.


All sorts of lookie-loos were walking around trying to figure out exactly what had happened. It was a simple matter of directional confusion. Your other I tell my kids.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wi-Fi at PTI

Traveler's rejoice, wireless internet is now hot at Piedmont Triad International Airport.


I was sent out there for my TV gig to cover the joint press conference held this afternoon by the airport and the wireless internet provider Opti-Fi.
It was a little different as far as press conferences go. They held a wire cutting as opposed to a ribbong cutting, to signify the event.


The company's director of sales, Bob Le Sueur was surfing the net while answering all sorts of silly questions from where does it work and who will use it, to how fast is it and how much does it cost?


The answer to those questions are- 1)anywhere in the terminal and concourse and- 2) anyone with wireless laptop, usually busy business travelers, to- 3) it's high speed wi-fi connect from a T1 line at the airport and- 4) from 25cents a minute to $35 a month.(Sorry it's not free!)


And I even had a chance to look at my blog while taking pictures and ingesting soundbytes. It didn't load as quickly as it does on my 5MB/s Cable modem, but it wasn't bad considering the size of this blog.


I can only begin to imaging the new possiblities of covering news at PTI. Not to mention waiting to catch that flight(that has been delayed by weather and mechanical and .....)

I have to get a laptop.


Digging for a Story

Most days, most stories and most ideas take a bunch of digging to research, gather and complete. So it's nice when a cool visual story is handed to you. It's even nicer when the story is of such significant subject matter.


On Friday intrepid meteorological/Reporter Charles Ewing and I were dispatched to Rockingham County to the site of a UNC-G archeological dig at a revolutionary war era historical site.

The site was home to a century old farm house that burned down in the 70s and the nearby hills and creeks were the workings of a little community that supported efforts in the US Revolution and the Civil War.


There was a lot of digging done for this story, but in this case the digging was the action I was documenting.

All I had to do was shoot video and listen for good sound, both in the form of human speak and nat sound, which is so precious to us TV Photog types.


The dig was an endless bounty of great pictures and sound. Every turn I made there was another visual, another natural moment, another great soundbyte.

For the aspiring archaeologists it as an endless bounty of artifacts, measurements and careful notetaking.


As the students went about their business and I went about mine, I couldn't help but thinking about who may have lived here 200 years ago and what life may have been like.


That's what these guys and girls were trying to find out too. The professor told us that General George Washington himself stayed on this property, according to historical journals.


And as these students continue to read the story buried in the red mixed dirt under this overgrown land, Charles and I came away with a great little story too.


The story of hard working students and teachers hustling to preserve a little known slice of American History in an effort to let it be known.


Got Gas? (I couldn't resist!!!)

I can't really explain this except to say that Jeff Varner and I had some spare time between waiting for a possible interview with Richard Childress and lunch hour while covering the lawsuit settlement.


I watched Chocolate gas the cars for Dale Earnhardt a long time and now he's got this great interactive demonstrations at the RCR Museum, so we had to do it. And we did.


Too bad he wasn't there to see this insanity. Or maybe it was a good thing.

The interview with was later set up for 4pm...then retracted. Probably in the terms of the confidential settlement.

RCR Lawsuit Settled

After 16 days of testimony Davidson County Jurors were sent home from the trial that pitted the late Dale Earnhart's car owner, Richard Childress Racing, versus United of Omaha Life Insurance company, that didn't payout the policy against Earnhardt's life.

dale earnhardt signature

The race team and the insurance company came to a confidential settlement over the weekend.

The dispute was over an unpaid $3.7million insurance policy that covered half of Earnhardt's contractual salary.


Last week the judge ruled in favor of RCR saying that the insurance company's legal department didn't share 18 pages of legal documents before the trial started.

RCR had been asking for triple the $3.7million policy amount plus all legal fees.

Some of the jurors we interviewed while gathering the the story for TV said they felt like the insurance company used dubious tactics to confuse and defraud RCR when it applied for the policy. They also felt like the insurance company didn't do enough to follow up with Earnhardt to get the physical that was at the heart of the insurance company's defense.

I would speculate that the settlement came out of fear on both sides that this thing could drag on into appeals courts and end up costing a lot more in the long run in bad publicity and legal fees.

I think RCR probably got close to what they were asking for.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

101 Things You Didn't want to know about TV News - #99

The #100 Thing you didn't want to know about TV New was all about the art of VOICE OVER. A VO for short.

But if all TV News was just an anchorman (or woman)reading over pretty pictures it wouldn't be very interesting, now would it?

So let's spice things up a bit with the #99 on my list of Things you didn't want to know about TV News, the Sound Byte.

The Sound Byte, can also be spelled B-I-T-E, and is usually just called a byte. It's called a byte because it's just a portion of an interview with the subject of a news story. The byte can be any length, but 12 seconds is an average for a stand alone SOT that an anchor or reporter pauses to let play on the air.

tville train and caron

Another way a byte is referenced is by the Acronym SOT, meaning Sound on Tape. I sometimes wonder how long this will last now that we are shooting on Disc. And SOD would probably be a bit confusing! (But isn't mine Pretty?)


A combination of terminology such as VO/SOT or VO/BYTE(same things) would mean that the anchor or reporter would read while the video was playing on the air and then pause as the director rolls the BYTE(SOT) and then read again at the conclusion of the SOT.

Not that you really needed to know.

Next time-- How SOTS are used to make PKGS.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


This week's BIG LINK.....Off Deadline, the afterhours adventures of a news chasing non-native bouncing around Raleigh gathering newspaper fodder. Well, that's three different links, but for now the BIG one is the one about his life away from work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Meet the Farquhars - High Rock Lake has water

Meet the Farquhars, Lynn and Stephany. They are the owners' of
High Rock Campground and Marina on High Rock Lake, south of Lexington, here in North Carolina.

High Rock Farquhars

They are a happy couple of business owners this summer because High Rock is full of water, full of fish, and most important, full of people. Those people fill their campground, fill boats with their gas, and fill their palate's with the food at the marina.

This filling and blissful mood couldn't be said for the summer of 2002 when the lake dropped to 25 foot below full. That's empty, literally. All that was left of the lake was the river and creeks running lightly in their original channels.

My son Davey and I posed for this picture while doing a story on High Rock that arid summer. You can see over our shoulders just how low the lake was.

Chris and Davey at High Rock with low water

Now 3 years later and a lot of people, other than the locals, have forgotten about the drought and alleged irresponsible dam management by Alcoa that caused the lake to dry up. And based on the weekend traffic at the lake so far this year, the word is out that High Rock has water.

High Rock Chris

For the Farquhars, it's great for their economy, but as they took us on a boat ride of their little part of the lake, they pointed out that this water has caused a boom in the housing market. As of today one real estate company says there are only 45 homes available for sale on the lake. Last year at this time there was triple that number.

High Rock House

The price range for a lake front abode starts around $100k and works its way up to nearly a cool million. The real estate speculators are predicting a great bump in the value of these lake properties over the next few years.

High Rock Pontoon

That's a something potential investors are keeping a sharp eye on as development continues to grow on the lake.

High Rock camera caron 2

I think Caron is zooming in on her little slice of Heaven there now.

High Rock intern mike

I don't think intern Mike nor I fall into the this investment category. But hey, I can dream can't I?