Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DAY 17

Day 17
My alarm goes of and I hit snooze. Once. Twice. Three times. I don't know why I even set the damn thing. Finally I just turn it off and lay in bed, enjoying the fact that Idon't have to be at work for another three hours. It's Saturday, the sun in shining, and I'm not working.... can it get any better?

My excitement in shortlived... probably because I waste the whole morning sleeping. I shuffle into work at 1:30 ready to address my fate. I'm immediately greeted with a smile and press release for a car seat safety check event. John's running late, so I'm on my own for the time being. I drop my stuff at the desk and head out the door. Luckily the event is right down the street at the Walmart parking lot. Unluckily it ends in about five minutes, so the only video I have is a few people standing around, eyes fixed on their watches.

I grab a quick soundbite with the guy in charge. Apparently out of the hundreds of carseats they've checked today, 70% had something wrong. Scary thought. One last car pulls in for a check and I get a few shots of the people inspecting the seat and the installation. Piece of cake. Back at the station five minutes later I'm handed some vsv's to edit that have already been shot by another photog. No, I'm not the editor. For some reason on the weekends though, titles don't really seem to matter. I guess you could call me, photog, editor, live truck operator, vsv writer extroridnare... oh, and did I mention doppler watcher and scanner listener?

Before I have a chance to touch my newest project a call comes out for a hazmat scene on the north end of town. The phone rings and our overzealous weekend anchors insist that I leave immediately. I try to explain that I have three stories to edit before 5, but they're having none of it. So I pass off the editing duties to my reporter and head out the door. I make it to the address that we heard called out and the street is empty. I glance upand down the intersection hoping to catch a glimmer of flashing lights. Nothing. So I turn the truck around and begin the trek back toward the station.

Before I can even set my camera down, the station phone rings again. Our conversation goes something like this.

Anchor: "So what did you get?"
Me: "Nothing. There was nobody there. I looked around the neighborhood a bit too. Nothing."
Anchor: "Well we know that something is going on. We heard another call for it"
Me: "Well do you have another address because nobody is at the one you gave me."
Anchor: "Did you drive down Tejon? What did you see driving down Tejon? The street we think it's on is near Tejon."
Me: "Tejon stretches the entire length of Colordao Springs. No I didn't drive down Tejon. I took the highway."
Anchor: "Well what did you see driving down Tejon."
(Banging my head against the wall...)
Me: "I didn't drive Tejon."
Anchor: "This is important. You need to get some video of this scene."
Me: "I have three other stories to do in about an hour. Why don't you figure out where exactly this scene is, and whether or not we really care, and then I'll go if it is something important."
Anchor: "I wouldn't send you if I didn't care! You need to go."
Me: "Ok, I'm leaving... call me with directions."

I sigh and head back out the door. When I finally find the hazmat scene in the alley of a street that doesn't intersect Tejon at any point, I'm told by the firemen that the hazardous material is only rain water. I shoot some video anyways and head back to the station. After the vo is edited, I call down to Pueblo to correct the script. "They aren't still testing the materials. They've confirmed that it was only rain water." I say. "Well who told you that?" "The lt. on scene. I didn' get it on tape because you told me you only wanted a vo." "Well who was he?" "I don't know. Why does it matter. He was with the fire department." "What was his name?" (Catch my drift... this conversation was obviously going nowhere.)

I hang up the phone and get back to work. Now I only have about twenty minutes to edit together all four of the stories I've been handed. Working quickly, and with the help of my reporter, I get everything done on time... then it's back out the door to start work on my actual story for the afternoon. Up north in briargate, it's now 5:45. I'm sitting at Rep. Doug Lambourns house talking about clean energy and a bill that just passed the US House of Representatives. Outside a storm is raging its way through the springs. I'm thankful that I'm not in it. While we are conducting the interview my phone begins to vibrate. Then, like clockwork, my reporters phone starts ringing as well. We both ignore the calls, not wanting to be rude to our guest who graciously agreed to meet us on a Saturday.

I'm loading the gear into the back of the truck, when I learn what the call was all about. A body has been found... hanging from a tree. Who knows how long it has been there? Who knows how it got there. All I know is that our day just got a lot more interesting. I excellerate onto the highway, driving quickly, excited for our breaking news. We make it to the scene and hop out of the truck. Immediately I am greeted with the smell of rot. I've never experienced a smell quite like it... and never want to again. If you have ever smelled a rotting body, you know just what I'm talking about. It is this stench that sits in the pit of your stomache, that you can taste on the tip of your tongue, and carries into the back of your mouth. It blows with the wind, nauseating even the most hardened police man. All I want is to hop back in the car and drive away, but the smell is there too. A police man approaches us and tell us that it is a suicide. We nod, shoot a quick few shots of video and go grab some dinner.

Then the reaming begins. Apparently our story about clean energy is out the window. The anchors want the suicide, live for the ten. My reporter starts to argue but its to no use. Things are different on the weekends. It was my understanding that the suicide policy was we don't cover it unless it is a public figure or done in a public way. In my opinion this was neither. The neighbors didn't even know about the body until we went knocking on their doors. This poor man had been hanging from a tree for almost three weeks, and nobody saw. Is that public? Interestingly enough, the neigbhor that called it in to the police didn't even know that it was a dead body. He thought that a deer had died, and was rotting in the trees behind his property.

At ten we are the only crew on scene. We stand infront of an empty dark field talking about how nobody even knew a dead body was there. And then we pack up and call it a night. Another battle lost between us and anchors. Do I think we covered the right story? No. Often times teh news business is criticized for jumping at an opportunity to cover crime and gore, even when it isn't exactly newsworthy. Do I think we did that tonight? Yes.

We often sit on our high horse and criticize the other stations for making a big deal out of something that really isn't anything at all. We laugh when they go overboard, creating fear and drama out of a story that deserves a spot in the trashcan. But tonight, we were the ones creating news... I think sometimes we are so set on telling the story the way we want it to be, that we don't open our eyes and see what it really is. We walk in we preconcieved notions of how everything will go, and refuse to change course when reality is altered. Tonight was one of those nights. Lucky for me, tomorrow is a new day.

By the way... the hazmat story never ran. Surprise, surprise.

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