Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DAY 12

DAY 12

It's Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day to me. Guess how I'm going to celebrate this wonderful holiday??? Ding Ding Ding!!! You've got it... I'm going to work!!

For the low man on the todem pole holidays in the news business are just another day of the week. The only thing that separates them from any other day of the week is that there are less people to give you a headache... and of course you are expected to do more (because there are less people to help!). Working memorial day doesn't really bother me. I didn't have any plans and it is cloudy and rainy again anyways. It is Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and even the 4th of July that get to me. Those are the times when you want to be out celebrating... not sitting in an empty newsroom trying to come up with something that could pass for a newsworthy story. Those are the days when I really question whether or not this job is worth it. Those are the days when I remind myself that not only do I get paid less then I did before I had a college degree, but I also have to work on the only days of the year when my whole family is back in Chicago. Because of this job I missed Christmas Eve with my Grandmother who is in her nineties, my little sisters graduation from highschool, thanksgiving with my aunts and uncles, and seeing my five year old sister open her Christmas present from me.

There are certain moments that we live for. Times in our life that only come once... so you better be there to enjoy them or live with the regret of missing out. Sometimes I feel like this job sits me on the sidelines... or won't even let me into the stadium. Isn't the point of working so that we can make money to live... not so that our whole life can pass us by without us even knowing... because we were too busy working...

Luckily Memorial Day isn't one of those holiday's where people sleep in, and then sit around their house all day doing nothing (like Christmas). On Memorial Day people get out... so we aren't exactly stretching for stories this morning. Air Force Academy graduation is this week and I'm the lucky photog that is sent up north to cover the awards parade. Rarely am I on time... so when I show up at the gate at 9 am, coffee in hand, ready for a long day of standing around watching Cadets march in the distance, you can imagine my disdain for ABC who is late... well not really late... we wait till 9:40 and finally give up on them and leave.

Military events are miserable... first of all, while everyone else is wandering around the academy completely unattended, we are attached to the hip of a public affairs person like a dog on a leash. Stand here. Don't walk here. If you need to move ask first. You can point your camera this way, but not that way. What questions are you asking? The list goes on and on and on. I think I failed out of puppy training school cause I just want to tell them to shove it and go where I please. Secondly, military events are painfully long, and enormously boring...

The awards parade goes a little something like this... crowd sits down in the stand and waits... for about an hour and a half. The cadets line up all the way on the other side of the field... if you have a great pair of binoculars you might be able to see them. Not your cadet of course... since they are all dressed alike... Then the pomp and circumstance begins. They march.... and march... and march... and march. First to the east. Then to the North. Sometimes they turn around and wave a flag. Finally they stop (keep in mind they are still so far away that you can hardly see them). We stand. We sit. They march. And it goes on... and on... and on... and on. Finally the thunderbirds fly over in perfect formation. The roar is so loud that the ground shakes beneath me, but I still barely get the shot. In a millisecond they are gone and I'm standing there wondering why I wasn't ready! Two hours later I'm leaving the Acadeamy, sunburned... with a lot of wide shots.

I get back to the station, happy that it's not raining. I'd rather be burned then sopping wet. One more story to go, a little news barbeque and I'm off... not a bad memorial day.

One pm rolls around and I'm off to Evergreen cemetary for historical war ceremony commemorating soldiers of the past. As I roll up the sky turns an ugly gray shade and threatens to spit rain. I'm in a hurry to get back to the barbeque anyways, so I vow to shoot quickly and get out before it pours. Just in case, I throw my raincoat over the camera... it never hurts to be prepared. Before I can even switch the power on... bang... rain. Great. Just my luck. I get a few shots and head back to my car before it really starts to come down. On my way out flags lined up on the graves of fallen soldiers catches my eye. They whip around in the wind, delicate flowers barely surviving the pelting water.

The car is so warm, so dry... but it isn't everyday that you see a sight like this one. Suddenly making it back to the bbq doesn't seem quite so important. On the other end of the field I spot two young girls... roses in hand, placing new flowers on graves where the old ones have been washed away. Their clothes are drenched, but they don't seem to notice the rain. I get out and walk over to them... interrupting whatever peace is in the air. I ask why they are out here... whether the rain could ever deter them. One of the girls looks up at me and says, "never... we are out here every year... the rain would never stop us. They gave their life for us... the least we can do is give a flower to them." With that she bent down and dropped the rose in her hand. Without looking back she walked away... and I was left standing in the rain, soaking wet...

It isn't the bbq's or the camping that makes memorial day special. It is the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice... given their life so that we can celebrate and enjoy the rain and parades and getting paid to work on a holiday.

DAY 11

Day 11

I don't need my alarm clock this morning, the thunder takes care of waking me up (not too gently I might add). It is windy and rainy, and as I open my blinds the sky lights up and BANG, the apartment shakes. My eyes adjust to the light, and I quickly realize it is pouring outside. Everything is wet.. and I only have two hours before my futon adventure is scheduled to begin. Last week was moving day. Today is "furnishing my apartment with used furniture I've found on craigslist" day. I've already enlisted my old roommate Rachael and friend John to help with the process. Being Sunday, I don't have to be at work until 1:30... so as long as the rain stops in the near future... everything should be fine.

12:30 rolls around and there is no sign of blue skies. The parking lot of my apartment complex is now flooded. I feel like I'm in a monsoon. Since Rachael and John work the rest of the week, today is futon day, whether it is raining or not... I better find a tarp. At 1 pm the three of us pull up to a garage apartment about ten blocks from my house. The weather is so bad it took us fifteen minutes to get there. I have thirty minutes before I have to be at work... and lucky for me I have a shoot at two pm. I quickly call the station to see if we can push our story back an hour. No go... it's a memorial dedication for fallen police officer Jared Jensen. Officer Jensen was killed 2 years ago while making a felony arrest... today an Eagle Scout is dedicating a garden in his honor.

I guess that means we have to move this futon quickly. We wrap the mattress in the tarp and John starts hauling it down the stairs. I run to open the door for him when SQUISH... I step in a big puddle of muddy water. My entire foot as well as half my leg is completely soaked. No time to worry about it now, I only have twenty minutes to load the rest of this, get it back to my apartment, carry it up three flights of stairs, and make it to work... We take apart the frame, stuff it in the back of my truck and climb into our cars to start the treck back to my apartment. As soon as I turn the car on I notice a glimmer of sun. No more torrential downpour... this has to be a joke.

Lucky for us it starts pouring again before we make it back. I don't have time to move everything so Rachael and John volunteer to take care of the rest and I head off to work... not exactly in the best mood.

By the time I get to work it is 1:45 and I'm drenched. From head to toe, there isn't a dry spot on my body. I'm cold, and bitter... what a perfect way to start the day. How many more hours till I can go home? Jeanette hops in the car and we head up north to St. Patrick's church. I'd like to speed so that we don't miss the entire ceremony, but the rain is falling so hard I can't see the road five feet in front of me. Brown water is rushing down the hill at the bottom of the station. Cars are wading through, hoping just to make it accross the intersection. We finally make it to the highway, but that too feels more like a parking lot then a major roadway. Bumper to bumper... perfect.

One thing that you quickly learn as a news photographer is how to get places quickly. Knowing shortcuts, speed traps, times of day to avoid certain roads helps, but nothing beats going 90 down the highway on the way to breaking news! Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating driving at speeds unsafe for road condisitons, or driving above the posted speed limit for that matter... Ok, well maybe I am, but only if it is for really good breaking news :-) This story unfortunately doesn't fit into that category... but I'm not against making exceptions...

Lucky for Jeanette (and myself I guess) I don't crash... and we make it to the church in less then twenty minutes. Time to get to work. We sneak in the back quietly and I snap my camera on the tripod and start shooting. There are about 75 people present for the dedication, all listening intently to Jared's brother tell a story about a camping trip they took together when they were younger. Apparently Jared used to think that he was the outdoorsy type... that is until he forgot his sleeping bag, socks and underwear on an overnight adventure into the woods. As I'm standing there I scan the crowd, and see not only the faces of his loved ones and friends, but also boyscouts and parishoners who did not know him.

As I scan, I can't help but wonder who would be at my funeral if I died. Would this many people still care about it two years later? Would someone that I never met want to dedicate a memorial garden in my honor? Jared's family sits in the front row, tears still streaming down his mothers cheeks. Some get up to share stories about times over the past few years when they were sure that Jared was looking down on them. Others just listen quietly, absorbing the moment for what it is. I stand in the back, disconnected from the crowd. My mind drifts far away from the overcrowded church multi-purpose room to friendships I've cultivated and lives that I've touched.

If I was to die tomorrow, and look down on my life from heaven, would I have regrets about the choices I've made? Would I wish that I had pursued a different career, or lived in a different city? Would I wish that I called my older sister more often, or tagged along on more family camping trips? As much as I'd like to be able to say no to all these questions, that would probably be a lie. There are things that I would change, if I knew tomorrow would be my last day on earth. For starters, I'd probably call my mother... even if it is elevn oclock at night.

As I stand contemplating the fullness of my own life, I notice a smile forming on my face. I didn't know Jared Jensen. I wasn't in the news business when he was killed. I wasn't even in Colorado. But still, I can't help but feel as if his death, and his continuing legacy, have some impact on me as well. Maybe I'm at this dedication today, because in his death, Jared is teaching me to live.

The rain stops and the sun comes out. Sitting on a bench in his memorial garden, I look up at Pikes Peak and know there is something greater then me out there. I'm by no means religious, but still, I can't help but feel moved by the greatness of the mountains, and the heat of the sun on my face. Walking to the car I make a promise to myself... to live for today, for this moment, this reality. It may not be perfect, but it doesn't have to be. It wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be life... as real, and tough and challenging (and sometimes soaking wet) as life is. We get into the car and start to pull away... BOOM- the rain starts pouring. I shake my head and think "Thank you Jared, thank you."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 9

Today's theme, nostalgia.

You know that song that comes on the radio and immediately brings you back to another time in your life. Maybe it takes you back to a campfire, surrounded by friends, drinking beers and singing songs. Maybe it takes you to a summer, riding on the highway with the windows down, your hair blowing in the wind. Or maybe it takes you to an ending point. A time in your life where one chapter closed, and the future was uncertain. A diploma, a speech, some smiles, and some tears. Today is graduation day.

For me, graduation is Green Day, the Time of Your Life.
"Another turning point a fork stuck in the road. Life grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go." Being only 23 years old, graduation isn't that far behind me. I still vividly remember marching into the Spokane Arena, cameras flashing, heart pounding. I remember walking accross the stage, sweaty palms grabbing my hard earned diploma, and briefly turning for a quick glance at Mom. I can see the caps flying in the air, jubilated faces staring them down. I remember the excitement of being done.

"So make the best of this test and don't ask why. It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time." After the graduation celebration was over, there was that growing up factor that I still had to deal with. The leaving friends behind, and branching out on my own. As I packed my things for Colorado, part of me wished it wasn't over yet. Had I made the best of my experience there? Had I taken advantage of all the wonderful opportunities at my fingertips? Whether yes, or no, graduation meant it was over. I was out of chances. I was leaving.

I think about the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt during those final weeks, and then I multiply it by 4. Why 4 you ask? Once for Justina, Laura, Nathan, and Walker.... the quads, who graduated from highschool today. News First has been following the story of the Colorado Springs quadruplets for 18 years now. We already had video of the four 1 year olds planting their face in birthday cake. Today, we got video of them with diplomas. A stark contrast, from the young children they once were. A testament to time, continually passing.

At 10 am we showed up to their house off a small dirt road outside of Colorado Springs. Immediately we were greeted by balloons, and senior pictures... followed closely by four rushing teenages. One by one, as mom wiped away tears in the corner, they sat in a chair and told us about family vacations, hectic dinner tables, and school plays. And then, as quickly as we came in, they were gone. Off to graduate. Alone with mom, and some close friends, we spoke about her babies. She told us the story of how they ran off on the first day of kindergarten, forgetting to give her a kiss. And slowly followed it with a tear, saying "they can't run accross the stage today..." It was obvious how proud she was of her babies. They were all going to college, well rounded people, individuals. But her pain was written accross her face, like an open book. She would miss the noise.

The juxtaposition of emotions, simultaneously running through her veins, evoked a sense of nostalgia in me. It was how I felt, that very day, I received my diploma. What is it about graduations, that make us so sad? Why are we afraid of saying goodbye to the past and moving on to bigger and better things? Is it that we are never quite sure, if they truly will be bigger and better? Or is it that we think we've found perfection already? Is it a fear that all the good we've done, will fall apart without us there? And a wonder about whether we will fade from the lives of loved ones and friends? I think it may be all of the above. We work for the day that we want to never come. We long for the papers to be through, and tests to be done... but cling to the comfort of knowing what's next, and where our path is leading.

For the quads, the next step is college... and then who knows. For me, it was Colorado, a life in news. A chance to make my dreams come true. A chance to become the person I always said I would. Now that I'm through with graduations, and unsure of when this chapter will close, the weight is on my shoulders to seize the day. It is up to me to walk this path that I'm on, and trust that it is leading me in the right direction.

"It's something unpredicatable, but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life."

here is a link to the story: http://www.koaa.com/aaaa_top_stories/x831215820/Quadruplets-graduate-high-school

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I've missed a few days because I've been so exhausted lately. So while today is probably technically day 10, we are going to call it day 8... moving day.

It's not even 7 am yet, and for some reason I'm awake. Maybe if I close my eyes I'll fall asleep again. No such luck. It's been this way all night. I think the stress of moving is starting to get to me. I just have to get through this one day. A quick shower, and I'm on my way out the door. First stop, starbucks. There is no way I'm gonna get through this without a carmel frap. My eyes don't want to stay open and my body already hurts.... I don't even want to imagine how I'm gonna feel at this time tomorrow.

I pull into the parking lot of the apartment complex and glance up. I haven't even started yet and the stairs are already taunting me. Before I even start unpacking I want to see how clean this box that I'll be calling home is.

Not bad. The shower could use a good scrubbing, but the carpet is nice and new and the paint is fresh. As much as I just want to lay on the floor for a bit and take a nap, I somehow drag myself down the stairs and grab my first armload. Twenty eight, twenty nine steps later I'm at the top. I drop the clothes that were in my arms on the floor and skip back down to my car. This is going to get old quick.

I finish the first car full in pretty good time. Now if I can only keep up this pace for the rest of the day, I'll be done before the sun goes down. The second trip goes smoothly as well. I think I've strategically brought the easy stuff first. I might be hating that plan later tonight. Around 11 I get a call from a co-worker who is helping with my larger furniture. He is all the help that I'm going to get today, so I want to make sure that I utilize his time well. My arm muscles are already starting to hurt a bit, and I feel like my calves are cramping, but there is no stopping now.

Back south, this time with most of my furniture in tow, I climb out of my car and notice how hot the sun is beating down. Of course it had to be 90 today. Of course I had to be on the third story. Of course there is no elevator. Of course it is a Tuesday and practically everyone I know is at work. Of course I don't have AC!! No use complaining about it now. I guess it could be worse, it could be raining.

We make it up with my dresser and nightstand, but as we are carrying up the tv my arms give out. I want so bad just to chuck the thing over the railing and say screw it, I don't need a tv! My grip is slipping from the sweat on my fingertips and there is a pain shooting through my right shoulder. Is this really worth it?? We round the corner of the second level. "Two thirds of the way there," John says. In my head I'm thinking about how much I wish I had money for a flat screen. As I step up on the first step leading to the third floor, my shin scrapes against the tv. Ouch! This needs to be done, right now. Thirteen more steps to go. Each one feels like it's a mile above the last. I want to just close my eyes and sprint to the top, but that certainly won't work in this case.

Finally we make it. The door clicks open and the tv is on the ground. Thank god! No time for celebration, there are plenty more things sitting down in the car, waiting to be carried up. On the way down the stairs John pokes the top of my neck. It burns. I guess I forgot sunscreen this morning. There is no telling where it is now. I'll just have to bake today and deal with it tomorrow.

After we get my bed upstairs John leaves for Denver and I am once again on my own. I'm so exhausted I just want to collapse on the floor. I wish I could pay someone to do this for me, but I can barely afford the apartment as is, let alone the cost of movers. It's now three pm and I realize I haven't eaten anything all day. My head is pounding and my throat is dry. I run to Subway for a quick bite to eat, but decide to grab it to go so I can unpack while I'm eating. As I start going through the boxes of Kitchen stuff, I quickly realize how much I'm going to need to buy. Living alone is expensive. I'm certainly not all that stoked about it. If money wasn't an issue this would be perfect, but on my meager salary I'm forced to makes a list of things I can live without. A spatula isn't one of them!

By 6 my sister is off work and my eyes are struggling to stay open. Evey step I take is painful. My body is telling me that it is time to stop, but my head says everything needs to get done tonight. We make one trip before I give up. That's it. Whatever is left at the townhouse I can deal with tomorrow. Now it's time to go buy toilet paper and a trash can, so when I wake up tomorrow I can pee!

We browse Bed Bath and Beyond but I'm too tired to think straight. Normally shopping for a new place would be fun. Part of me wishes I had slept better last night, or I had less stuff to carry, or I was in better shape. But wishing is no good. It doesn't fix that fact that I'm exhausted and tomorrow is going to be another day of up, down, up down, up, down. It nine when we decide to go to IHOP for some dinner. I scarf down my strawberry banana pancakes before my sister takes ones bite. Oops, I was supposed to save some for her. I guess I was hungry. Thirty minutes later it's off to Walmart, for the stuff I couldn't find at Bed Bath and Beyond. Finally by 11:30 we are on our way back to her air-conditioned hotel room. All I want is a shower and a pillow. My arms ache, my legs burn, my shoulder and neck sting from the sunburn, and my eyes are so heavy I can't keep them open. I want to make a list of what I need to accomplish tomorrow but I can't formulate a word, or a thought for that matter. Tomorrow will have to wait till tomorrow. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Day 7

I already know I'm going to Pueblo today, but that doesn't mean I can't complain about it anyways. To make matters worse, I'm going there to shoot the Wild Wild West Fest parade. Now I'm by no means a country girl. I grew up in a Chicago townhouse, listening to rap music. The closest I got to the country was the petting zoo at the county fair. Don't get the wrong idea, just as I've got nothing against glasses, I've also got nothing against country folks. In fact, many of them are quite nice. The problem comes when you want me to hang out on a sidewalk taking video of horses and other rodeo animals, who for some reason always have to poop right in front of me! Gross!

It is cold and cloudy and the sky is threatening rain. I just want to get out of here! I never understood why someone would want to sit on a cold street curb watching people they don't know parade by. It sounds miserable to me. At least I'm getting paid.

I hear a siren in the distance. It's finally starting. I roll on the first few floats, get some video of John Elway (this year's grand marshal) and wait for our news float to come by. Ten minutes later, I'm still waiting. I swear they did this on purpose. It was almost as if someone said, "Jessica can't leave until we come by, so let's be at the very end so she has to stay for the entire thing!" The girl scouts march by, then some miniature horse pulling two very large people, some more loud trucks, the boyscouts, some pagent winners...no news float. And then, like God heard my prayers, I see it in the distance. The large peacock is making its way towards me. Hooray! As it approaches I hit record and smoothly follow it by. And then, as quickly as it approached, it is gone again. I can't belive I waited all this time for that! I lousy three seconds of video of the outside of a news car. Oh well, at least I'm getting paid.

After the parade it's on to the next event, the duck drop. The only problem, all the streets are shut down, meaning I have to go about ten miles out of my way to get there. The other problem, I don't really know where "there" is, and this truck doesn't have a map book in it! Sigh. Why me? I get out and ask some guy standing in the road. He seems to think that I'm going to completely wrong direction and I should turn around and go back through the middle of town (where all the parade traffic is). I wish I could argue, but I'll have to take his word on this one. I reluctantly flip and u-turn and head back into the chaos.

By the time I reach the location of the duck drop I've had it with festival traffic. This is why I don't come to these things! They are a pain in the ass!! I see an open spot and break about three laws getting to it, before holding up traffic while I flip another u-turn and park. I really don't want to get out. I need more coffee, or chocolate, or something. My hand latches onto the door and I open it, letting the cold air rush in. I whisper to myself, "here we go" and hop out of the drivers seat.

I set up in what looks like a good location, and before I know it the organizer has spotted me and is making her way over. It's amazing how noticable the camera is. I love it when my interview comes to me :-) She tells me about the event, and the money they have raised. I ask how I'll know when it is going to start and she says not to worry. There is going to be a big countdown before the rubber duckies are dropped into the river. Nice, I think, I can relax until then.

Lesson learned from this event, pre-record is your friend. So I'm sitting, relaxing, waiting. I listen to the band playing country tunes, and people watch along the shore. All of a sudden, no countdown, no drop those ducks, I see 9500 ducks being dropping in the water. Damn! I missed it. The money shot is over and I missed it cause I was sitting on my butt. There is nothing I can do about it now... but learn from my mistake. In this business you gotta be ready for anthing, at anytime. Just because it is supposed to happen one way, dosnt mean it will. And if it doesn't you better have a plan.

As I drive back to the springs I'm mentally beating myself up for missing the shot. It really isn't hat big of a deal, but I'm pissed anyways. Not really the best mindset for writing, which is the journey I'm about to embark on next.

Today is supposed to be my first day of one-man-banding. Since I've never really reported before, my boss thinks it would be a good idea for me to write shorter stories for the anchors to read (vsv's). I'm glad she wants me to start taking baby steps, but apprehensive about how all this will turn out. I can't help but think that someone else could do it better. But I'm the girl. It's all me today, so there is no use worrying. I just gotta get it done.

The cursor on the computer is flashing at me. Almost like it is staring me down. I don't know how to start. What do I write? How do I do this? I'm not really used to having this problem. Normally I'm asking myself do I have enough video? Today it's, do I know all the information? Luckily it is only three, so I have two hours to write two vsv's. If I can't do an adequate job in that much time, well then just fire me now!!

I struggle through, but get it done. At five I'm sent out to do a live shot for another one-man-band, so I never actually get to hear my words read on air. It's probably better that way. I don't need to hear how awkward I sound. I can only hope this whole writing thing gets easier. I'm sure it will. When I look back at the stories I show from a year ago, I can see how much I've improved. I can only hope, in a year from now I'll be thinking the same about my reporting.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Since most of my life consists of me doing stupid things and other people making fun of me, I might as well throw myself to the wolves...

I got glasses today. Stop. Don't laugh. Ok fine, laugh it up. I admit it, there is something funny about a photographer who can't see. Afterall, it is my job to shoot good LOOKING video. I've already been called Granny-J so unless you've got something better then that, don't even bother! I'm not completely blind. Just far sighted. As my new saying goes, far sighted is better then no sighted...

Ok, that was lame. I'm done. Back to how I feel about the glasses... I really don't have anything against glasses. Seriously, I don't. On some people glasses can be sexy. Glasses can make dumb people at least look smart. And four eyes are always better then two. But I'm not a glasses person. To me, they are like the reporter who has to send just one more email, when you really should have been out the door five minutes ago heading to breaking news. They slow me down. It has been less then a day since I've gotten them, and I've already lost them twice. I'll sit down to do something, realize I don't have my glasses, and take fifteen minutes to locate them. I might have to work on that.

Today is just another day at the shop. After our exhausting day yesterday, I'm glad there is no big news going on today. GM announced it is closing 42% of its' dealerships nationwide, but isn't releasing a list to the media. What exactly does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, we are at the mercy of the owners to tell us whether or not they've been nixed. Lucky for us, we only have 4 GM dealers in the city. My reporter starts making phone calls, and almost immediately realizes that the information we need might be difficult to come by. The first dealer says he is definitely not on the list, but names someone, who in his opion should be. The next dealer says he hasn't gotten news yet, and so on.

For a photog, this lack of concrete information so early in the game is both good and bad. It's good, because I have time to finish my coffee for the first time in a week, check my emails, write up broken equipment, and archive my stories from the past few days. Don't get too excited, here comes the bad! Sitting around all mornings almost definitely means a rushed, and exhausting afternoon. Here is why...

Five pm, is five pm, whether you've had forty-five minutes to work on your story, or six hours. Five pm doesn't care that you've worked as fast as you can and didn't have time to finish. Five pm doesn't slow down because the information we released too late in the afternoon for you to put together a good package. Nope, five pm comes anyways. And you know who else doesn't care, your boss!

So while I'm enjoying my relaxing morning, in the back of my head I know that I'm going to pay for it with a hectic afternoon. And that's exactly what happened. At three we get word that a dealer will talk. My reporter and I jump in the truck and head all the way accross town for the interview. On our way she puts in another round of calls to the ones who hadn't heard yet. Four questions later, we are done with the interview and shooting back to the station to try and get all this together before the five pm show. If it takes us twenty minutes to get back, I'll have forty minutes to edit a vsv for the five, and another for the six, and still make our liveshot. I know that sounds like a lot, but it's not!

My reporter now has confirmation that three of the four definitely are not closing, but the last one doesn't seem to want to return our phone call. Anybody will a brain in their head can probably guess why. But our story has to stand without that information because it hasn't been confirmed. It is one of those instances where I know the truth, and you know the truth, but we can't actually say the truth. Dumb.

Luckily I'm a pretty fast worker... especially when the only video I have to work with is static shots of parked cars. Not exactly my best work, but heck, I'm still tired from yesterday. We get our live shot up with time to spare, and I take a second to glance out over the city that we are situated above. Somehow, almost as if the view is a calming magic, the day is put in perspective. The bore, the rush, the frustration. I realize I don't have it so bad. Afterall, I'm getting paid to enjoy the view.

Friday, May 15, 2009


7:30 am comes way too quickly. I wake up groggy from another night of tossing and turning. This time however, I can't blame it on stress. I drank a few glasses of wine last night which led to a less then perfect night of sleep. Sigh. Happy Monday to me.

9:05 am. I trudge into the newsroom a few minutes late, coffee in hand. There is time to savor one quick sip before I run to put my lunch away and load up the truck. I can't help but think that today is going to be a long day. Before I've even logged into the computer I hear my name being yelled from accross the room. "Can you be ready in ten?" Another sigh. Am I allowed to say no?? "Yeah, I'm ready now," I reply. Silence. Deep breath. Pray that it is something easy.

Then I remember what today is. Sweeps shoot number two... which just so happens to be two hours South East of us in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Great. A four hour roadtrip is just what the doctor ordered! (Please notice the hint of sarcasm). Well at least I'm out of the mix for the other chaos that is constantly occuring at this station. Heck! Maybe it won't be so bad! I gather my things and head out the door.

We're on the road... the ac is blasting, and I'm happy to be heading out of cell phone service. There is no turning back now. We are out of the shuffle. When you work in the news business, there is one good thing about being sent far away. Well two actually. The first, and most obvious, is the overtime. Every photog can use the extra cash. And since our overtime salary is still less then any decent paying job, the company has little hesitation to send up places. The second, and not as well known perk, is that nobody can call you. If the world is blowing up, you don't have to deal with it. On a normal day I receive an almost constant stream of phone calls from the desk, the producers, the person writing topicals, and a pluthera of other people who think it is their job to be continually checking up on my progress (and often letting me know that I am accomplishing far to little in far too much time). Sometimes I want to scream, "Well if you hung up the phone, stopped calling me, and let me do my job, I'd be able to accomplish a lot more!" But I don't, obviously. I just smile and tell them I'll do what I can.

When you are out of cell service, nobody can tell you how to do your job. They get what they get, and that's that. And most of the time that makes everyone happier. They don't have to worry about letting you know, that they know how to do your job better. And you don't have to worry about dealing with them. It's a win win situation. So I head South, a newfound smile on my face, looking forward to a day without interuptions.

I'd love to tell you how the rest of my day went, but our TSR hasn't aired yet, and I can't give away all my secrets to soon. Rest assured that the day went well, and our competition is going to be totally jealous when it hits air! We strategically got back just after the dayside crews had left, loaded video into the system and called it a night. It really wasn't as bad of a day as I had originally anticipated. Now it's time for Karate, and then I'm hitting the hay early... maybe tomorrow I'll be ready for action!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

DAYS 3 & 4

DAYS 3 & 4

Ahhh, the weekend. I have one word, one thought. HOORAY!! Well, kinda. This weekend I am faced with an interesting dilemma. I'm moving (and I don't mean moving my butt more, or moving my ass to the the gym). I mean moving for real. Like packing up my things in boxes (that I have yet to get) and moving to another apartment (that I have yet to find). That is the real dilemma. Where am I going to live? Luckily, I don't have to move today. I have one week to figure out that answer. And while I'm at it, I might as well figure out how I'm going to pay for this new apartment. Which brings me to my next dilemma, which pretty much all photogs can relate to, how do I support myself while I am pursuing this so-called "dream?"

While I'm on the topic of money, I'd like to make one thing clear. We photographers, don't make any! Well, not literally, I mean I do get a paycheck every two weeks. Most of the time though, it is so small that I'm convinced they've forgotten to pay me for a couple of days. I'm making less then I made when I was going to school. My non college degree self, who still received free healthcare from my parents, made more money. My little sister makes more money babysitting! So why do I do it? Why not quit, get another job that pays me more money (using that college degree that I worked so hard for) and stop complaining so much? I'd like to say that I stick with this job because I feel like it is the only place that will challenge me to live up to my full potential, but that would be a load of crap.

For now, I'm sticking with it because the economy is in shambles and I'm not sure I could get hired at Walmart. I'm also sticking with it because it gives me something new and unexpected almost every single day. I've met the President of the United States, held baby wolves, and watched a brigade case their colors and head to war. I've seen fires, and murders. I've searched for lost children, and gone to gorilla birthday parties. Every day is a new start, a fresh begininng. Wandering into the office at 9 am, I have no idea what awaits me. I like that. I like the adrenaline of the five oclock deadline, and the competition to be number one. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing my work on the news every night.

But I digress. The point is, I'm in news, I make no money, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. So this weekend is dedicated to finding a place to live that I can afford on my meager salary. I've nabbed the free apartment guide books at the local coffee shop and sit down to find my dream home. By the end of the first book I realize I'm screwed. There are three apartments in the whole book that fall within my price range. All three of them are in the parts of town that I get called to at three am for stabbings, shootings, and other criminal activity. Don't catch my drift? They are in the ghetto. No way. No how. Not moving there. A box would be better. I just need to make sure I place my box on the North side of town.

So I give up on the apartment guide books and hit craigslist. Plan #2 consists of me finding a cool female roommate close to my age who has a room available for 400$ or less in a part of town where I'm not scared to open my windows. Easy right? Once again I am naive. I post my add, telling everyone how cheerful and easygoing I am. I tell them about my love for wine and the Chicago cubs. I don't mention that I work in news, they don't need to know that. And I wait.

As the emails pour in I begin to realize that I may need a plan three. Here are just some of the emails I received: "Hi Jessica, I know your add said that you wanted to live with young professional females, but I am a 25 year old male soldier. Don't worry though, my momma raised me right!" or "Hi! I saw your add. I'm 17 and my husband is 18. We have a room in our house if you want to check it out." or even better, " I have a room in my basement. It doesn't have any windows, but that didn't seem to be a problem for the last tenant. I think you'll like it if you check it out. Oh, did I mention I have five cats. Email me back if your interested!"

Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. Moving on to plan #3. Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with a third plan. So I sleep on it (well toss and turn all night) and wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to attack the day. Plan three. Plan three. Ummmmm. Yeah. Then, lightbulb moment. I remember a co-worker mentioning an apartment complex by work that is affordable, and decent. I didn' t want to move south, but beggars can't be choosers. I decide to give it a try.

The inside turns out to be better then expected. It isn't the Ritz Carlton, but I can deal. If I look at the upside, it is within my price range (of practically nothing) and close enough to work that I might be able to walk in the summer. I try to ignore the downside while I'm signing the paperwork. Who needs more then 530 sq ft. anyways? Who even wants air conditioning? A wall separating the bedroom from the living room, totally over rated!

So that's that. I'm moving, in five days. I'm still not really sure how I'm going to pay for it, but at least I know where it is. I know this will be a problem I encounter often throughout my life, especially if I continue down this path of news photography. But as much as I hate the uncertainty of not know where I will be living in a week, I hate the idea of giving up on my dreams even more. So I'll keep plugging away. I'll survive the summer without AC, and deal with my lack of funds one week at a time. And I'll keep having faith that one day this thing they call growing up will get easier.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Day 2

7:45 am. I wake up suprisingly refreshed. I guess that means I didn't get called out last night. That's always nice. There are two good things about today. First, it is my Friday. Second, since I didn't get called out last night, I might actually have the energy to go out after work. I'm not placing bets on that one though, who knows what the day ahead has in store for me.

10 am. I walk into work. First things first, I load my gear into the truck, make sure it has suffient gas, and sit down to check my email. Not so quick. Before I even get a "hello" I'm told to be ready to leave in five minutes. No wonder I never respond to my emails. I guess if it was something important the person would have called me anyways.

The remainder of the morning is rather uneventful. I shoot a quick interview with Lance Armstrongs cycling coach for an enterprise series about training right. Apparently his collarbone is healing nicely and he is confident he will do well this week at the Giro. And, that's about it. I couldn't ask for a better Friday. That is until 1:00 rolls around.

At 1 pm I'm shooed out the door for the Criminal Justice Center. Two young men accused of brutally murding a 21 year old disabled person over an x-box game are being advised of their charges. I hate these things. I hate sitting at this nasty place. I hate the look on the families faces when they see their loved ones in orange jump suits. Hopefully no family members will show up.

It's now 1:30 and the advisement is about to begin. I'm plugged into the box on the wall, ready to roll. The audio sounds awful, but it's not an issue with my camera, so I'll just have to deal with it. I reach down to hit record when, "Who's is plugged in?" echoes accross the room. I look up, "I am." I say meekly. "Why?" "You don't have permission. Turn it off." Well, I guess that's the end of that. No more advisement. I unplug but stay put. At least I can get the information.

The first young man walks up to the camera. The judge informs him that he is being charged with first degree murder. There is no bond set. I hear weeping behind me and turn to see two women. One is a bit older then the other. Both are sobbing, reaching the point of being hysterical. There is a young man standing next to them, tell them it will be ok. I can't help but avert my eyes. I feel like I'm intruding on a personal moment. The advisement continues.

He is told that his next court date is set for May 18th, and asked if he understands? Then it's over. Done. I should probably try to talk to the family. If they say something to me I'll be the hero of the day. As I'm coiling my cables I contemplate at least getting some video of the family crying. I should. Afterall, it is my job. But I keep coiling the cables. What is stopping me from just pointing the camera at them and pressing record? I could just walk over and try to talk to them. I don't even need to bring the camera. But I don't do that either. If my boss finds out, I'm probably going to get a stern talking to. But I walk away, get into my car, and leave.

There is something about suffering that is terribly personal. I'm assuming the two women were this mans mother and grandmother. I can't imagine what they are going through right now. I'm sure they never imagined their little boy was capable of such an awful act. Or maybe they knew this day was inevitable. Either way, I have no place in that moment. I know that. They know that. But the news knows nothing about personal moments. As a medium, it is our job to insert ourselves into personal moments, capture it on tape, and broadcast it for the world to see. That's what makes good tv. But today I couldn't do it. One day after mothers day, I couldnt look this grieving mother in the eyes and pretend like I felt no sympathy for her suffering. I couldn't be part of it. So I walked away.

Did I do the right thing?? I don't know. I guess that depends on how we define right. Did I do my job, no. I knew that from the start. Hours later I'm still thinking about what I should have done. In my heart, I treated the person the way I would have liked to be treated. In my head, I can't get over the fact that I didn't do my job. I guess that's the tricky thing about news. Where does empathy and sympathy need to end, in order for us to deliver to our viewers the best news in town. How can we be humane and number 1 at the same time?

I guess only time will help me answer that one. Thank god I have the next two days off...

Monday, May 11, 2009


Day 1:

It's mothers day. You know, champagne brunches, spring flowers, sappy hallmark cards about how glad you are that someone decided to give birth to you. And apparently muggings... yes, you read that correctly, muggings. What mother doesn't want that for mothers day?? Ok, let me backtrack because I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself.

The day started off pretty typical. I woke up, called my mom, and sat around wishing I was at home instead of stuck going into the station. I was tired, as I usually am Sunday mornings, because of a 3 am shooting on Saturday night; but it was nothing a little coffee couldn't fix.

1:30 pm, I get into work, sit down at the computer and await my fate. What kind of story will I be covering tonight? It turns out I'm the only photographer on duty. Our other Sunday night photog has the day off. Perfect. Hopefully nothing big happens, cause I'm not moving very fast today.

I'm told to head to the humane society to get some cover video of a dog for a segment we run every Sunday night. Not my favorite thing to do, but I'll take it. Maybe I'll run into something interesting while I'm over there. As I'm walking out the door my reporter runs after me. "Wait up!" she screams, "I'm coming too!" That's weird. The reporter never comes. I can't help but wonder what's going on.

Apparently her day is going just as good as mine is. Nothing is going on. All her mothers day stories have either been covered by the daysider, or are already falling through. She's hoping for something interesting at the Humane Society too. We get there and settle into the only room not covered with pet hair. Maybe they'll have a new doggie mom?

Idea denied. Nothing here. We head back to the shop deflated. I plop down in my chair knowing that the longer it takes us to find a story, the less time I'll have to work on it. I want to find something quick. That's when she tells me we are headed to Pueblo.

The car ride down is rather uneventful. The road is full of Sunday drivers going nowhere quick. I navigate around them and make it into town with impressive speed. We pull up to Tulane st. and climb out. God only knows what is waiting for us inside.

The door opens and we are welcomed into a dark living room that hasn't been decorated since 1970. A short italian woman with dark black bushy eyebrows starts yapping about how nervous she is for the interview... I'm just glad I have my set-up to focus on and I can leave my reporter to deal with her. We sit down. Lights, camera, action! And the story begins....

"I was bored. You know us old people, sometimes we just get bored. So I went to the store. To get a scratch ticket. And I'm standing out there re-checking to make sure that I hadn't won anything when I feel a tug. And the next thing I know this FAT girl is running away with my purse. And I'm surprised she got away, she was FAT. If a 79 year old woman can almost catch you, you know you need to loose weight"

Wait, what?? Seriously? Is this woman for real? "If you could say one thing to the woman," my reporter asks, "What would you say?" Pause. "I'd tell her to loose some weight!"

Ok, now I can't help but laugh. I want to feel bad, afterall, it is mothers day. Bud I just can't help but laugh. "So what did you do next?" Jeanette says.

"I chased after that fat girl. Got infront of her car so she couldn't drive away. And held on. When the car backed up I fell flat on my face. Too bad about that, I'd probably be happier if they just ran me over. When you get as old as I am you don't worry about your safety... just kill me now (laugh) this life's been long enough!"

Not quite sure how to react to that one. The interview continues... Next interesting response. "Thank god we still have the death penalty! They should just kill 'em all. I tell you, people these days just aren't good anymore. We need to get rid of them! Get rid of them all!"

Twenty minutes later the interview is over and I'm scrambling to leave. I guess nothing beats a mothers day mugging, or a 79 year old ball of fire! I'd like to say I'm shocked by her, but it's just another day on the job....

here is the story that actually aired:

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I guess I should start by introducing myself...

My name is Jessica and I'm a 23 year old photojournalist in a 90's television market. What does that mean in laymans terms? I guess you could say I'm a small fish in a medium sized pond. I'm constantly surrounded by people who have been doing my job longer then me, and like to make sure I'm well aware of it! Not that they are any better at it then I am... but when you are at least five years younger then your youngest co-worker, you tend to get the short end of the stick most of the time.

Let me give you an example. Every Saturday night I'm on-call. So while all my friends are going out to the bars and enjoying some brewskies, I'm sitting at home with the phone next to my ear, anxiously awaiting a call from work. Of course I'm not getting paid for this wasted time, why would I. Not that I'm complaining. I love my job. Really, I do. But sometimes I just want to scream, stomp my foot, and let everyone know that life's not fair!

So what is the purpose of this little blog. Well, in the year and a half that I've been working in news, I've come accross a lot of people who think my job is all glitz and glamour. I must admit, in a snapshot, it can easily appear that way. I'm here to tell the truth about life in news. I'm here to share the ups and downs of being a young, inexperienced, naive female photojournalist. Some of my stories are funny, some are a bit sad. But all of them are real. These are the stories of Southern Colorado, through the eyes of a photographer.