Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 19

The newsroom feels empty today. It is eerily quiet. While I would normally enjoy such a serene work environment, I know that it is only a facade... hiding the inevitable chaos that is sure to crash down on us later this afternoon. We have more desk people then reporters... more scanners then photographers... more managers then cameras on the street. Something is wrong here people.

In the last week we've lost two of our own. One has moved on to a bigger market, the other out of the business completely. While Denver is only a few miles up the road, it is a jump not many have been able to make. I'm happy for him, really I am... what I'm not happy about is the hole that he has left behind.

News organizations are like school sports teams. While we may practice together day after day, inevitably at the end of every year somebody graduates (one day it will probably be me!). After they are gone the team is altered, for better or worse, and must rebuild. I can speak for personal experience, the rebuilding isn't always pleasant. I don't like it. It is different, harder. It means filling gaps by doing the job of two, sometimes three. It means no lunch breaks, live shots in every show, and a doubled story count. No, I don't like it.

With furloughs and vacation on top of the inevitable summer cold that is cirrulating the newsroom right now... we are bare bones. While I could sit here complaining about the current state of our news organization, I'd rather focus on the potential good that may come out of this. I must admit that part of me is excited to step into new shoes and fulfill new roles. My brain has felt a bit underutilized lately, so this may mean new challenges for me to conquer.

I've been told my fate today is another nat pkg, but one only needs to glance up from the computer to know that won't last long. I predict it changes before noon. The good news, I guess the powers that be liked my last one about a group of elderly women who have picked up the game of volleyball.

Click here to watch it:

The story today is about service dogs. Colorado Springs is the home of the first peanut sensing allergy dog. His name is Rock-O and he is quite the pup.

A few months ago he was given to an 8 year old named Riley, who up until now has lived her life in constant fear. She couldn't go to the park, eat at many restaurants, or even attend a public school. Now she can. She can slide down a slide without worrying that a peanut shell is waiting for her at the bottom. She can eat with a group of friends, without wondering if something in their lunch box could kill her. Rock-O has changed her life... and now her mom wants dogs (like Rock-O) to change the life of other children with deathly, but hidden, allergies.

It's 10:30 am, time for a change. The nat pkg idea has been pulled, not enough people... go figure. I'm now attached at the hip to our only reporter for the day. I predict a hectic afternoon. Luckily he has two photographer working with him, so I'm off the hook for some of the work. But my grand plan of telling a great visual story about training allergy dogs has pretty much dissipated. Added on to my list now, a school bus safety story... boring!!!

I shoot the dog story quickly, managing to sneak in a few belly rubs while I'm at it. After that it's Subway in the car on my way to the bus barn. Oh, August. Why is it that when you are out of school, you still get stuck dealing with it? I thought I was done with buses, school supplies and homework... no such luck! Now I'm talking about bus safety, preventing the flu, and not speeding in school zones. I swear it never ends.

By 4 pm I've finished everything but my liveshot... the daily lightning storm is building in the mountains, so that may be canceled anyways. No breaking news has hit... Nothing has crashed... Suprisingly we've squeaked by. The funny thing is, our average viewer probably won't even noticed the difference. That's what's so interesting about this business. There are days when four reporters isn't enough.... when there is so much news that we are in a constant rush to finish everything in time for air. Then there are days, like today, when one person doesn't even have enough to do.

I love the fact that when you walk in the door you don't know why type of day it will be... which way the pendulm will swing. There is no predicting one hour from the next, let alone one day from the next. You constantly have to be on your toes, ready to react, ready to run. I love the calm before the storm. The quiet newsroom that suddenly errupts into a chaotic, well oiled engine, with a simple call on the scanner. It is unpredictable. It is quiet. It is calm. It is sometimes boring. But then, as if offended by the silence, it rapidly deteriorates into an all out riot. There is no other way to describe it. It is news and there is nothing like it.

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