Friday, July 29, 2005
Riptides kill more people in the US every year than shark attacks have in decades.
So while my children rode their boogie boards and conquered the most extreme and radical waves they could hop, it wasn't until I had a long talk and demonstration with them about the dangers of riptides and what they should do in case they started getting carried out to sea.
And although my young ones spent their 4 days on the Atlantic riptide free, later in the week, once they were safely back inland with their mother(my ex), 2 other families ended up with horrific vacations.
On Saturday the 23rd of July 2 people were swept to their deaths by rip currents just a few blocks down from where my kids had been enjoying their vacation just 5 days earlier.
An 11 year old just like mine, struggled in the churning and roughened Atlantic surf that was in the grips of the little Tropical Storm Franklin. The boy's father and sister dove in to help the boy but ended up going to the hospital themselves almost drowning.
The Coast Guard spent hours in the air searching for the young victim's body which washed up on Monday, two days after he drowned.
The other drowning occurred when a 31 year old man tried to save his son from a riptide. These two drownings make the 5th and 6th drowings this year at Myrtle Beach.
All of these riptide deaths could be prevented by following this simple protocol. Ride the riptide out, DO NOT try to swim against the riptide to shore. Call for help but don't panic.
If you can swim well, do it parallel to the shore to escape the ripcurrent, but don't tire yourself out. Float along with the tide and wait for help if you can't swim out.
Basically, don't panic and make your trip to the beach memorable not horrible. My sympathies to the families of all the riptide victims.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Look at the X.
A child died here.
Look at this mom.
HER child died here.
As the car came down the dead end street the driver didn't know the 4 year old was going to be in his path.
As the child crossed the street, after wiggling free from his carseat in the family van, possibly with his attention on a cat, the boy didn't know the car was not going to stop in time to miss him.
And as Tina Johnson grieves just hours after holding little Brandon for 5 hours after his death, her family, including Brandon's 6 siblings, struggles to find answers.
The most immediate question is how to pay for a funeral on Dad's disability income with NO insurance.
A more longterm question will likely linger forever. Why was a 4 year old little boy taken from this earth at such a tender age?
To help this family contact the Memorial Presbyterian Church on McKnight Mill Road in Greensboro.
(The driver of the car that hit Brandon Johnson was not charged. The police determined that the speed at the time of impact was less than 30 mph, in the posted 35 mph zone.)
My colleagues Eric White and Ken Devanny were on the heat beat trotting around Downtown G-town with a high tech laser thermometer and part of their duty today was to fulfill the call from NYC to fill :60 seconds on our Cable Uncle.
Eric did the show and tell with the laser thingy with style and grace, and then it was back to local beat about the people suffering in the heat on the city streets of Greensboro.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
But later today(the time of this writing being almost 1:30 Wednesday morning) I am headed back to work.
The kids had a great time and my wife Julie and I had fun with them and then, later, without them we celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary, while our kids were with the other parents.(we both share custody of our crew with an ex)
There are a few stories to tell, and a chilling reminder how cruel the ocean can be, how close tragedy can strike and how lucky we really are to get to wake up every morning with our kids close by.
Details as the week passes barring any breaking news at work.
For now check out a few select pictures from Myrtle Beach.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
These are our rugrats from our trip 2 years ago. They love the beach and are excited to be headed back to the big Myrtle.
I will probably have a lot of pix to share and maybe a Vlog or two.
And that is the point. To relieve more of the traffic and congestion problems around Greensboro that aren't even close to the problem that larger cities have. But this part of the contstruction zone is huge. When we did the TV story last week this was our view for our Live Shot.
We could see for miles, over several bridges under construction. It's awe inspiring to stand there and see these guys toiling at what seems like a snails pace.
They stay there all day, sometimes leaving for lunch, but otherwise they are on site all day, with all the ammenities the mobile
And during our stay waiting to go on the air at 5 and 6 we took advantage of the mobile restroom, more than once.
We were up so high on the bridge site that we did our live shots with the mast down. We were able to shoot our signal to two different recieve sites with the mast down from up there.
And as usual Eric White went all out for his Live Shot. At least at 5. He ran all the way down the hill and then up a smaller one to allow this vantage point for our liveshot.
It was a nice look that made for a different than usual view for you guys at home watching.
The gist of our stories was that this portion of the loop is coming along on schedule while the northern part of the loop around Greensboro is on hold again to be pushed back several to many more years.
It will be interesting to watch the progress.
Sure at the larger sporting events like NASCAR Races and at the Colliseums there are usually spots reserved for the media to keep us from having to walk too far with our equipment.
But in general, on our day to day, routine assignments we don't go places with assigned Media parking spots. We have to scratch and claw for good parking just like everyone else.
On the downtown city streets it's best if we find a commercial spot, but we are usually OK in a public metered spot even beyond the 30 minute or 2 hour time limit. But only when we are marked. It seems that most meter maids will ignore a marked vehicle in the name of news gathering.(Except at the recent trial in Graham where one of our guys got tagged while he was the all day pool photog.)
Sometimes I find myself needing to use the fire lane or some other area marked no parking for the public. I can pull up into grassy areas. I can pull onto sidewalks. (very carefully as not to block traffic.) About the only place I will NEVER park is a handicapped zone. That is strictly off limits.
Just Sunday I was fudging the limits of the parking protocol when I pulled into a spot clearly marked reserved in downtown High Point. The guy in the Jaguar behind me pulled up with his window rolled down and promtly told me that was his reserved spot. But he allowed me to stay if I passed a message to our morning anchor. Done.
With all of this talk of creative parking practices it was nice to see this sign the other day at NC A&T University in Greensboro.
A place especially for us to park, in a nice central campus location.
Thank You A&T for thinking of us.
Now I just wonder if I can get one of those to stick up wherever I am parked?
Friday, July 08, 2005
It hasn't yet at Fox8(a Fox Owned Station) where I make a full time living, and a substantial number of other co-workers blog about their daily trials and tribulations.(some of it work related some not)
Important questions, though, will then have to be answered if(when) news outlets and businesses in general let(encourage)(make) their employees blog in the name of the corporation. One of the first things to consider about corporate blogging is that the personal and unbiased nature of blogging for one's self could be lost.
"Hey, today I went to cover a story about this, check out this link and don't forget to watch our news, and tell all your Nielson metered friends and family to do the same."
Not that I don't load my blog with references back to my work. It pays my bills for goodness sake. But nobody is telling me what I have to say or what I can't say about my job.(except for all the paperwork I signed when I was hired 7 years ago committing myself to secrecy about.....well, if I told you it wouldn't be secrecy would it?) Basically it's called common sense.
I think the biggest difference if mine was a company blog instead of a personal blog about what I do for the company would be the content about my interaction with the competition. Even though business is fierce and our rivals at 2,12 and 45/48 are our arch enemies from 5:00am to 9:00am and 5:00pm to 6:30pm and 10:00pm to 11:30pm, we are all just doing our jobs and I like writing about the nature of the relationships formed in the field gathering TV news. I have a feeling that would be lost in a corporate blog. And I would understand that.
Some TV stations are starting to jump on the blogwagon as a means to be interactive with the viewers. I think this is a great idea, but I'm not sure this is really blogging however. It's called blogging, and it's formatted like blogging, but is it blogging. Let's see, walk's like a duck, check. Looks like a duck, check. Talk's like a duck, wait a minute here...
Check out the News, Weather and Sports blogs on the website of NBC affiliate WITN in the 105th TV market. These are not blogs. With a very slight exception to the weather blog but I take that back since it hasn't been updated since June 23. They are very news-ish...and not updated or personal at all.(except again for the weather blog)
Dictionary.com's top 5 definitions of the word blog say that a blog is a personal journal, an online diary. Some of the definitions for the word include the use of news links, but none of the definitions have the corporate world involved.
But as with everything else on the net, the business world will inevitably ebrace, use and abuse blogging as just another tool to reach out and touch potential clients.(viewers in the TV business)
And this use of blogging by businesses, specifically the media, can be done well. The Greensboro News and Record seems to be on the cutting edge of this and their disclaimer actually lends some credibility to these blogs. The bloggers of the News and Record seem to have free reign over their blogging.
Nashville TV station WKRN has a great looking blog. They even hired a full time blogger to post blogs about news issues from local to world to the unusual.
But are these really blogging or just a frequently updated news website dressed up to look like a duck? Don't get me wrong, I read 'em, but I would like to see some internalization of the content instead of as many links to things around the world. Give me some more details about the local stories including interviews with reporters about their stories or sidebars to stories whether they have just aired or are on the horizon and I'm a viewer(not really since I don't live in Nashville or SanFran, but you get the picture). That's where a good corporate blog turns into a great corporate tool.
It will be an interesting ride to see where this blogging takes us. Right now it's a bit backwards in a way. Humans have always generally turned business tools into personal toys. Now that the general public has a toy to play with the corporate world wants it bad.
But will it be called blogging?
Thursday, July 07, 2005
I was searching for a news item of interest when I found the Fox Blogs . They are on the main FoxNews website down close to the bottom.
The Fox Blogs consist of these six links....
Greta VanSusteren's Blog seems to be very bloggish. Her latest entry today is about getting the call to leave Aruba because of the London attacks.
Shana Pearlman is a producer for FOX News Radio's Tony Snow Show and Sharon Kehnemui Liss is the politics editor for FOXNews.com. Together they are writing the Gitmo Diet Blog. It's about surving on the food the inmates at Gitmo are eating.
Alan Colmes' Links page is the same. Just links.
The Wilson Watch buy Brian Wilson is the newest blog. Wilson's first post was today. Wilson is on a new beat in DC and found himself waiting for spot news to break out in lieu of any political action in the capital.
Brian Kilmeade is one of the hosts of Fox' Fox and friends. His blog has been going strong since January. His latest entry is War on Terror, about today's London Bombing.
As far as the way the blogs are configured, I'm not sure I like the way they are set up. Two of them are labled Fox News in red with the apparent blog title in black. The other four are labled with their blog title in red, and the latest blog entry in black. And two of those four aren't really blogs. Hannity and Colmes' blogs are just link lists. Come on guys!
I like Greta's, Wilson's and Kilmeade's. Those three are true blogs, as much as they can be as an extention of the FoxNews website and employment of these folks. But their blogs share some personal perspective about how they go about gathering the fodder that end's up on The FoxNews Channel and even with the self promotion at the end of the entry I found them readable.
They should set up a comments section on them too. But that would probably get out of hand. But it would be interesting!
I am glad to see they are making the effort. It's another tool in the newsgathering toolbag.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
My News partner for the day (and most days to be honest) Caron Myers and I headed toward downtown about 9-45 and arrived in the middle of the parade. After knocking off some video clips of the parade we found a parking place closer to our live truck that was already positioned for the morning news, noon news and this afternoon would be our home for the day to broadcast our findings on the 5 and 6 o'clock newscasts.
I was amazed at the turnout, which we learned was more than 100,000 for the first time. There were people everywhere and whichever way I turned my video camera a new scene awaited my viewfinder.
And to be straightforward, I was a little to overwhelmed with great video opportunities to take a bunch of still pics, but this opportunity I couldn't resist. A hulahoop and Caron Myers.
She claims to have been the champion HulaHooper of her neighborhood growing up.
We had a quick lunch after nearly getting drenched on our six block walk/run back to the livetruck. And we spent the afternoon putting together a story for five and six.
Just before our Live Report at 5 the skies opened up with a heavy rain, but we were graced with sun by the time we were on the air.
At six the storm was closing in but there was no thunder or flashes of lightening to signal our departure from routine, so our Liveshot at six went on too, although by the time we finished the rain had started. By the time I put away all my gear and packed up all my cables, I was soaked.
But that didn't make the Fun Fourth any less interesting. Wow. I'll be back.
Friday, July 01, 2005
It's the epitome of every law enforcement media briefing. From Winston-Salem to Burlington, in Davidson County and Down East(as in NC) and I'm guessing they can be found in every state across the land.
It's an invention that became popular sometime between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It's the universal thing that can take a news photographer's breath when he or she walks into a room.
The white dry erase board on the wall....behind the designated speaking area.
Who thinks this is a good idea? And why did you tell all the others?
We try our best to make our subjects look good in front of the wall, but between the compromising exposure and the reflection from the lights, it would be hard to make Jessica Simpson look good in front of one.(Don't check that Jessica Simpson link at work)
So here's my plea for anyone that uses a room with a white dry erase board for press conferences. Please find a better place to host the cameras OR cover it with a nice logo'd curtain.
The press conference that had been covering when we curiously wondered about the white monster was a check presentation to the Davidson County Sheriff's Department in the amount of $1,181,976.60, to be specific.
The money was 80 percent of the amount confiscated in 5 traffic stops in Interstate 85 between September of 2003 and February of 2004. The stop in 2004 led to 2 convictions under a Patriot Act charge of attempting to smuggle money out of the United States.
The deputies found $1million dollars stashed in multiple secret compartments in the vehicle and when they questioned the driver and his passenger, their stories were not even close to the same.
All of these traffic stops came before the current sheriff David Grice was appointed to the job, while interim sheriff Dallas Hedrick was filling in for suspended sheriff Gerald K. Hege, before Hege pled guilty to two felony obstruction charges in May of 2004.(you follow that?)
Hege started the Interstate Interdiction team and molded it after units in North and South Carolina and Georgia.
Dallas Hedrick kept the team alive, cutting back their hours of operation at first, but then sending them to intensive training in Charleston, SC where they picked up several awards for their work confiscating drugs and money.
Sheriff Grice, although a bit tight lipped about the group, has the team on the interstate full time. They have seized more than $1million since April.
They get to use the money for just about everything except for salaries and operations. Grice has immediate plans for radios, blue lights, a ventilation system to flush the drug smell out of the evidence room and a clothes dryer for the jail.
You can bet the taxpayers of Davidson County like this good monetary news.