Thursday, September 28, 2006

Economic Guru in the House
Clark Howard

I think it was about a week ago that my second favorite Consumer Reporter, Melissa Painter, who I work with all the time told me about a special interview scheduled for today. I had to get this assignment. It may not be a once in a lifetime, but it was a must get and I put in my dibs and and was assigned to work with her to shoot this interview.

The interview was just happend to with my favorite Consumer Reporter(no offense MP), advocate, and personal finance wizard Clark Howard .

Clark Howard (10)

Clark has his own popular syndicated radio show, does TV Consumer Reporting, writes a column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and has 3 books out and 1 on the way.

The interview with Clark was set up in conjunction with his visit to Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem for WZTK, the local radio station that he's on here in the Triad.

Clark Howard (1)

But my assignment with Clark got even cooler when he came to the station for the noon news. We interviewed him for our consumer segment after the noon segment and then we went over to Hanes Mall where he was going to sign books and do an hour of his radio show LIVE with an audience.

Clark Howard (5)

But before the stop at Hanes Mall, I actually had the pleasure of helping Clark save a little money. He mentioned that he wanted to get a pair of the popular new Starbury shoes. The only place to get them is as Steve and Barry's department store, which, from the station, is only a 4 mile drive, and on the way to Hanes Mall. Clark said there's no Steve and Barry's near Atlanta, so Clark followed me to Oak Hollow Mall and got himself a $9 pair of Starburys.

Clark Howard (6)

An hour or so later we met up with Clark again while he pre- signed more than a hundred books all while talking to anyone who wanted to chat.

Clark Howard (8)

He gave us great sound both during the studio interview and during the book signing.

But he came out of his seat and paused the book signings when another big fan of his came by to say hi! The man on the left in the picture below has also had his time on our airwaves, but only because of his own legendary status.

Clark Howard (11)

Recgonize him? Can you Guess Who? OK, so that was a word play. The man here is Garry Peterson, the drummer of legendary rock band "The Guess Who."

Garry lives in Greensboro and Bob Buckley did a Buckley Report on Peterson about a year ago.

Garry and Clark exchanged a few stories but Clark had a bunch of books to autograph and his executive producer Christa kept prodding him to get a move on.

With 30 second to live on the air Clark rushed down a back corridor of the mall and took the stage to a standing ovation from an audience of a couple of hundred eager, inquisitive fans of his consumer advocacy.

I have always been impressed with Clark as I knew him on the radio, but even more so after spending some time watching him work in person.

He offered to carry my sticks twice...
..I bought all three of his books!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Trout Fishing for Homeless Soccer with Clean Hair

Ok, so I'm mixing stories in the title of this post, but with all that I've been doing lately it's no wonder.

Alot of a News Photographer's life is spent working on one story a day, one story at a time stories that are shot and put on the air on the same day...usually one package and a vosot or two. So when stories are shot and held several weeks before they are edited for air things can get confusing about which story is which.

I shot a story about a group of homeless men who play on a soccer team in Charlotte 2 weeks ago. It aired tonight at 10, I spent time editing this story on 6 consecutive days between shooting and editing other projects that had earlier, even same day air dates.

I spent the pre-dawn hours of Monday and Tuesday shooting a consumer story about dry shampoo that lets a person skip a day of hair washing the old fashioned, wet way.

And on Monday, after my predawn shoot, I shot a cool story at an elementary school with the Twice Grammy nominated musical duo, "Trout Fishing in America". I had never heard of them, but I loved what I heard and I must say, inspired on several levels.

So let's recap, Monday and Tuesday - up at 4:45 am, shooting for two stories, editing for two others.

Wednesday - Editing the Monday, Tuesday "Dry Shampoo" story along with "Homeless Soccer".

Thursday - "Finish Homeless Soccer", start and finish "Trout Fishing in America" Feature.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pimp My House

Lenslinger has covered how, as a TV Photog, you never know where you'll find yourself, but from the other end of that thought, you never know where you'll find a TV Photog, but if you're looking for one, try his co-workers' house.

Wrenn (2)

You see, if you ever work at a TV Station or know someone who does, one of these days a TV Crew, news or production is 99.999% likely to end up using your house as a shoot location for a news story or a commercial.

Case in point, Photojournalist Kevin Wrenn in my Shower with his fancy XDCam in tow.


It's no hard news story, just a consumer piece on a new shower product, but it ended up with Wrenn-dog under a towel, in the shower, trying not to get too wet.

And he had already shot a similar scene earlier in the day at another co-worker's house.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Medical Helicopter
Waking the Neighbors

Back in May I wrote about my time spent in the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Air Care Helicopter. But I didn't write specifically about it's noise and the little neighborhood that this Trauma center has grown up beside.

Air Care Helicopter

The crew told me about how they take off and land a certain way to minimize the effect on neighbors of their jet turbine noise and rotor whips at any given hour of the day.

AirCare (4)

Personally I love the sound of a life being saved, but some people get aggravated at something that interupts their routine, and of course most people love tranquility, I'm certainly not arguing that.

AirCare (5)

But out in Utah at the University of Utah the Medical Center Helipad has moved into a new neighborhood. Actually just to a different place on the hospital grounds, but nearer to student dorms.

Heather from Dooce saw this all unfold from her living room on the evening news. Her post titled, 'Just when I thought local news couldn't get any better' lauds the insanity of not only the hand wringing in the newsroom at such a great lead, but at the caring group of co-eds whose studying is being interupted.

About the newscast;

"They’re calling it “a conflict between life and death, a conflict between peace and quiet.” They had to choose between starting with this story or the one about a man who put his Chihuahua in the oven. I cannot possibly imagine the hand-wringing in the control room."

And the students;

"She complains that the Air Med helicopter is making so much noise that she can’t study. “The residents are really upset,” she says, “because we have this helicopter that’s moving in, and it’s very noisy. And they don’t want to make it any easier for us. We’re not being compensated for it.”

And her husband;

Jon instinctively pauses the TV, and we sit here blinking.
“Compensated,” I say nodding my head. “Like a gift certificate to Denny’s. That’d do it.”
Jon agrees. “I just don’t understand why those doctors have to save lives so loudly. Like, God!”

AirCare (35)

Luckily back here in North Carolina, the University's Medical Center and the Air Care helicopter are miles from the actual Campus.

And luckily the Utah situation is only temporary(6 to 8 months) until a renovation of the parking deck that the Helipad lands on is done. And they are keeping their other 5 helicopter at the airport.

News story link HERE

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chef's Special
Great TV Photography
Shaken not Stirred

Some brilliant TV Consultant is proposing drastic changes to to make TV News more attractive to the viewers and bring up the ratings of his client stations.

The seminar was called "producing & storytelling with immediacy."

According to a poster going by the moniker SVP at the B-roll-dot-net message board this consultant told the group this....
  • a live shot should NEVER be shot on a tripod.
  • almost everything should be shot off shoulder.
  • admitted that NPPA guys would want to hang him for saying that but the slight movement helps give the story immediacy.
  • nothing in your story should distract the viewer from what you're saying.
  • video should only assist what you're saying but the viewer should be listening to the track.
  • and he said the fancy and creative NPPA stuff only distracts the viewer and gets them lost, leading to them change the channel.

Here's what I think...

First of all I am not a big fan of these consultants who have all the answers and that's to change everything because some small focus group says so.

As far as attracting and holding the viewers by giving them crappy shaky stories with the illusion of 'immediacy', that's bullcrap.

If we're doing stories that are really immediate it will show, if we're not we shouldn't pretend we are. That's cheating the viewer.

I don't by any stretch of the imagination deny that some viewers don't care how TV News looks, just as much as I do care very much how it looks. But I don't think people are turning off good TV in search of crappy work either. The viewers aren't thinking like's too passive.

So I don't quite understand why we all get caught up sometimes in the what is right and what isn't and what is good and what isn't debate. As TV professionals we are in charge of what makes good TV. Just like a car designer knows what makes a great car and a chef knows what makes a great meal.

However, different people have differing tastes so there are many, many different versions of every type of product on the free market all in hopes of optimizing the bottom line.

It's the same in the TV business. We can produce different versions and quality levels of our work but since ours is free to the viewer I think they deserve our best effort every time. But then again, some people like Springer, others like Oprah. (Hell, there might even be a person and a half watching Current TV.)

The harder part in the TV business, unlike restaurants, unlike movies, unlike car sales, and unlike many other businesses with a product that people physically buy is that we have to GUESS what our clients, the viewers want from us. We have to make educated guesses about what is the best and most appetizing content to include in our product, while depending on a small sample of our viewing audience to tell us by electronic tally what they like or don't.

And just like all the varying opinions by all of the TV Pros at B-Roll-dot-net, by many differing age ranges and experience levels, the different viewers out there in TV land have their own tastes.

And we are all viewers too, but much like the chefs who know what is good and bad when mixing food products into tasty delicacies, we are always experimenting with the recipe hoping our peers will like the product, because what our peers like, even though we're sometimes too close to the product, is still a reflection of the quality of our work.

A reputation for quality work over time will always draw customers. But then again always room for fast food...And of course the more people eat in those grease traps on a daily basis, so I may have just daggered my own theory. But even those people would surely eat fancy for free and that's how TV is given to 'em.

I don't care what techniques are used to tell a story, I just don't want it to be jarring to me as a viewer. If the video or editing have the viewer asking, 'What was that...Why did that sound funny...That looked strange'...Then the viewer is missing out on the story.

The viewer may not know why something felt wrong, but the viewers know. It's like eating a meal not cooked properly. Sometimes it's exactly what the cook intended but it's just not palatable by anyone.

So there's certainly a lot of gray area here and I don't think a single TV News Professional out there is in a position to say what is exactly right and what is exactly wrong.

100 of us could take a sample of 25 stories and maybe agree that 5 of them are perfect 16 of them are just OK and the other 4 are just plain crap.

And a different group of 100 people would likely give a totally different analysis.

In regards to a failing newscast I've always been more in favor of subtle changes over time to not scare away the viewers you do have and to allow your newscast time to develop a reputation for great news. And that's what it's all about in the community of TV News viewers.

People watch the station that has a reputation, that their parents watched, that they are familiar and comfortable with, and that they hear good things about. I think ratings, or a lack of, has less to do with the actual day to day product and more to do with the quality of work and the relative continuity over a long period of time.

Using another food analogy, think about TV News in terms of your favorite eatery. If they dumped your favorite menu item, how likely would you be to go back to that place as often?

One of my favorite bi-monthly hangouts got rid of a favorite food of mine and I haven't been back in 2 months.

Similarly if a station plays switch-a-roo with the anchors and reporters or the presentation styles it may be hard on their existing customer base, and they are the most important.Now that I'm way off the photography aspect of this thread let me bring it back.

I don't think that this consultant and his mandate of shoulder only liveshots is going to help any station any more than going all VJ or hiring Katie Couric.

Me and My Little Tool
Inventing 101

Henry Ward Beecher said, 'A tool is but the extension of a man's hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well-being of mankind.'

Does this count? Kind of looks like it would hurt.

Ergonomics for the Video Blogger

Of course there was the real life version back at NAB in April...The guys and girls from Easy Rig are taking Backpack Journalisim to the next level. There is actually a review on about this unique looking contraption.

NAB 1 (7)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reporter Assaulted
Photojournalist Rolls Throughout

If you haven't seen it here it is. The video of San Diego's Fox 6 Investigative Reporter John Matte as he is attacked by accused con-man Sam Suleiman. The crew was working on a follow up to Suleiman's cons when Mrs. Suleman verbally and lightly physically attacks the crew for their reports and then Mr. Suleiman shows up and wastes no time lashing out with pounding physical violence.

Although there could be a million different scenerios in the future that would warrant different action I would say that the cameraman did the right thing here. If he would have put the camera down to help that woman would have been able to grab the camera and take off with their evidence.

Now the video has now made it to YouTube and where the comment sections are growing as fast as the Suleimans fury.

Here are select comments from that I like....

Meatygrum said:
Cameramen : Gotta love em they dont put the camera down for anything.

randomtask said: think about this : the camera man watched the whole thing while his collegue was getting his ass kicked

Jakedog13 said: Cameraman : Ya gotta love how the cameraman kept rolling instead of helping his coworker!

bhouse said: hah : the best part is how the camera man just kept rolling the entire time, i wonder if that other guy wasnt there to step in would the camera man help or keep rolling

jes22593 said: wtf : y was the camera guy taping when the reporter is getting killed instead of helping

mkr32208 said: I'll bet the camera man LIVES for shit like that! : Great film, plus the prima dona prick who's always bossing you around is getting thrashed like a little girl! I'll bet he buys a round for ALL his buddies that night!

GeoJim said: Pretty funny : Some of these "investigative" reporters must think they're beyond or unsusceptible to the reactions of other people when pissed off. Yes, the dude was a scumbag, but did that reporter actually think he could annoy someone to that extent without a reaction? C'mon now. And, does anyone else think the camera man could have done something??? Nonetheless, having it all on video is nice. And lastly, I would hardly say that reporter was "in a fight for his life"

brkholio said: True... : but I saw an interview with him last night. He wanted the camera man to continue filming... to gather evidence I guess. He already had that other guy helping him anyway.

Redman78 said:
Stupid. : You have to be really really stupid to assault a news reporter on camera. Stupid woman saying leave us alone??? Yeah lady why don`t you stop robbing people first!!

DustyVag said: Just saw this at my gym : Dumb bitch thinking throwing water at the camera is gonna do shit.

SMBguy said:
Haha. : That stupid girl thought throwing water on the camera would make it explode.

zach723 said:
haha they got caught : she was so pissed because they were busted, not because the reporter was intruding... enjoy your time in jail

himselfe said:
well : I don't know much about this reporter so I can't comment about him, but I wish to hell the reporter who was harassing that kid from the library would have this done to him.

DUFFMAN1111 said:
haha stupid ass reporter : i'm glad that reporter got punched, the media will do anything to try to make a story but i'm also glad that this jawa and his loud girlfriend got in trouble, i guess HockeyElmo27 said it best; both parties got what they deserved

HenvY said:
why can reporters never fight? : i want a reporter to get attacked and beat the shit out of the guy who does it.

AJustice said:
I hope that guy can clench his butt tight... : ...because he's in for an ass banging when he goes to prison. The reporter did the right thing by not fighting back. Now he has a 100% clear cut case of felony assault and can easily sue this guy for damages.

dalmation said:
DUHHHHHH!!!!!!! : If you want to mess with the bull you have to deal with the horns. If a person is willing to commit identity theft and real estate fraud - he is most likely willing to beat you up if you push him far enough? Get a clue and read the writing on the wall. No way should he have been surprised that someone would turn on him like that.

beatlegirl said:
good job reporter! : Wow! that guy totally overreacted by hitting him! he was doing something illegal (forgery and such) and I'm glad the reporter did what he did! it's ok to rat out criminals. Anyways, in the case criminals vs. reporters, reporters are the lesser evil.

stonecoldkilla123 said:
i : can see how people get angry when the news teams uncover there dirty deeds to the whole world, but this guy is just crazy haha. great clip.

mikeymo1 said:
stupid fuckers : how stupid can you be! you attack a man on camera! DEE DEE DEE!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

TV Crew Arrested - UPDATE
Court Date

The Reporter and Photographer arrested in June for not heeding a Highway Patrolman's order to move are headed to court this morning.

I heard from a person close to the situation that the DA is not dropping the charges and the Missouri Highway Patrol is pushing for prosectution.

Got this Press Release about it too...


To: Missouri news outlets and SPJ Chapters

From: Ron Sylvester, Region 7 Director, Society of Professional Journalists


At 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, a television reporter and photographer from Springfield are expected to be in the Henry County Courthouse in Clinton.

They are facing charges being brought at the insistence of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

We feel that pursuing this case amounts to no less than attempted assault and battery against the First Amendment.

The misdemeanor charges stem from the KYTV crew's attempts to cover a breaking news story of a collapsed building earlier this summer. State troopers interrupted Sara Sheffeld's live report in June to take her and photographer Cliff Erwin into custody. Troopers claim she was in a restricted area, although there were other reporters nearby, who were allowed to remain.

In July, our organization reached out to the Highway Patrol, offering to help resolve this issue, improve relations between their agency and the news media. We received no response. Other press organizations in the state have made similar pleas, but the Missouri Highway Patrol has chosen to remain silent. Instead, they are pushing through what we feel is an unnecessary case, further burdening an already crowded court system and threatening the rights of a free press.

By ignoring our requests for further information and our offers to work to improve relations, the Missouri Highway Patrol has chosen to bully journalists through the criminal justice system. We feel the First Amendment was created to prevent this kind of strong-armed tactics by the government.

We urge the local prosecutor to drop these charges. If that official does not have the courage to do so, then we ask the court to exercise its constitutional right as a check to the executive branch of government and dismiss a case that we feel shows an abuse of power.

People who carry notebooks and pens are often at a disadvantage to those who carry badges and guns. But each performs a valuable service in informing and protecting our democracy. Our organization encourages the people with the notebooks and pens to act responsibly in carrying out their duties. We also expect law enforcement to act responsibly in wielding their power.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

Friday, September 01, 2006

And NOT Ernesto

What do you call TWO Tornadoes that miss all the local trailer parks?

A Redneck Dream come true.


Every News Crew's worst nightmare!

Hawfield Storm (4)

As Tropical Storm Ernesto wanders through the Eastern Part of our state tonight we spent today covering the aftermath of twin tornadoes that passed through rural Alamance County yesterday.

Firefighters saw 2 funnel clouds pass over the Hawfields area late Wednesday as stormes from an approaching cold front blew up all over Central North Carolina. When we arrived in the area on Thursday morning I expceted a couple of downed trees and maybe a sheet of tin or two.

But as we passed by tree after tree, snapped, twisted or broken I realized that this wind maker really packed some punch. (That sounded cliche!)

Hawfield Storm

Of course our object was to find the epicenter, the worst of the damage to illustrate what had happened. That focus took us not into a devastated trailer park but into a middle class neighborhood that had debris spread all over, a trampoline in a million pieces, a garage door blown out and all the foundation vents sucked out of one house.

Luckily however the twisters bounced over all the houses just downing trees in insignificant non-damaging locations. That's OK though.

On our search for a location to do a LIve shot with a debris field we found the scene in the the next picture.

Hawfield Storm (2)

At first look you might think it came from the mobile home. It did, sort of. It bounced off the trailer in mid flight after the wind ripped it from the feed barn of this dairy farm.

Hawfield Storm (3)

The debris field of this storm stretched about 5 square miles.

Only one trailer was damaged.