Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Back On The Tarmac

So today I left work with a little bounce in my step.

There's a bit of satisfaction in life when you successfully come out of a challenging situation with only minor bumps and bruises, and that's pretty much how work was for me.

If I were a pilot, the landing wouldn't have been stunning, but considering the turbulence and the down engine, I think the passengers would have been thrilled with the jostling.

Around 5:15 or so (remember, I work overnight) we heard some squawking on the scanner. Man shot in the back. It was somewhere over on the other side of the river, not a microwave shot, so we'd have to send the Sat(ellite) truck.

Tipster du jour started calling in with all this information. Home invasion. Man down. Police on a manhunt. The guy was obviously listening to his own scanner at home (what is he, a news junkie or lonely?) and had far better reception. Tipster kept calling in my phone, and I started getting friendlier, working him for anything I could.

You don't say? Two mile radius? And how many cop cars? About what time did the chopper leave? Okay, hon. Please DO give me a call with anything y'all hear.

Yes, it works.

Our crew started doing phoners when they got there, waiting for the arrival of the Sat truck. We decided to book a shot through our parent company's satellite, and this apparently involved some kind of new math, seeing as it was a new bird (that's lingo for satellite) and all.

Meantime, I decided to lead my newscast with the reporter's phoner. We'd take the live pic as soon as the shot got up. But wait, my Executive Producer says. The shot's almost ready. Float it until you can get to the live picture (in layman's terms: juggle the rest of your news content and delay running that story until the reporter's ready and on the air.)

Minutes pass. They seemed like an eternity. Still no shot. I am dying because I really want to/need to get to the breaking news. My management has instilled in me a sense of urgency to be first on the air. Lead with the breaking news. Don't bury the best story.

Nature is handing to me a situation that grates against my journalistic makeup.

We decide to go with the phoner. Reporter calls in and tells me she's ready. I press those magic buttons that let me talk to the anchors in their ear.

Toss to Debbie next. She's on the phone.

And, of course. Debbie's battery dies. There we are sitting on a graphic of her pretty face and listening to tone.

Oh, how I wanted the earth to swallow me whole.

We recovered and waited two more minutes. The picture was good. We were on the air first with the pics, which is a small triumph in the business. Especially during sweeps. We went back to Debbie for two more live hits, and pretty much everything else went smashing.

Glad we were able to pull that one out of the fire. And now we get to go back and do it again tomorrow.


Micah said...

Thanks for defining the industry jargon. I would've been lost otherwise (although I did figure out "phoner" based on the context).

Kate The Great said...

I didn't know if that would be a boring post for someone to read outside of the biz. It's a pretty spot-on example of a breaking news situation,,, and I don't know if my type of people are the only ones who get a hard-on for that type of thing. But, Anchorman did reasonably well in the theatres, so people either are somewhat interested in TV news or they were seriously jonsing to see Will Ferrell's chest hair.