Good-Bye and Good Luck, on Repeat

There are many perks to this business. Every day is different. You get to meet new people who tell you stories you couldn’t have even dreamt up. Once in awhile, people tell you they recognize you and/or they tell you that you’re doing a wonderful job (this actually doesn’t happen as often as you’d think).

However, one of the downsides… is the frequency of these words:

Good-bye!

Good luck!

 

In life, we all have our shares of farewells. For some reason, professional good-byes seem to cut more deeply in the news biz than in other ones.

 

Reasons why they happen so frequently:

– Contracts end every few years

– Poor ratings mean less revenue, which could mean cut positions

– It’s a grueling line of work, and people leave the field

– And IF you believe the saying, TV news is a dying business

 

Now factors as to why these departures are felt so strongly:

– The stress often creates stronger bonds

– New gigs usually are far away. At least 2 hours, because it’s in a different DMA from you

– The unusual work hours mean you are the only people who have the most random days off

Case in point: 5 people who watched a movie at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday.

Case in point: 5 people who watched a movie at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday. Movie Club is born.

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I write this post because in just the past month, a few dear friends have moved on to wonderful new jobs, but those jobs have taken them further away from me.

Tee Lee!

Tee Lee!

Terrence Lee is now the morning MMJ in Cleveland, Ohio, after being the primetime anchor for WMDT in Salisbury, Md. for years.

Lainey :)

Lainey 🙂

Elaina Athans hit the ground running as a new reporter in Raleigh, N.C. after spearheading the Hudson Valley newsroom for YNN.

A true Troylet

A true Troylet

Casey McNulty just landed an incredible role as a producer in Boston. The offer came just over two weeks ago, and she leaves tomorrow.

 

While I have so much joy for these friends/former colleagues, it is hard to know that our friendships will have to remain long-distance. At the same time, I can’t bemoan their success and their future endeavors.

Guess that means I’ll have to make my way to the Buckeye State or plan a night out at the Raleigh Times. I’ve already scoped out some places in Boston, Casey!

Obsessed with speakeasies. This one's called Backbar.

Obsessed with speakeasies. This one’s called Backbar.

Congratulations! I am so proud of you all.

It’s okay to cry

It’s the third night in a row I’ve come home to process my day with a glass of wine (oh, cursed calories that soothe me so) and my trusty laptop.

So here we go.

 

Over the past two days, I’ve come close to crying for two strangers. I didn’t. For the record, I would call myself an emotional person; I don’t think “stoic” has ever been used to describe me. Even so, I’ve learned to turn off the tears in public situations. At least, most of the time.

But tonight, a victim who was seriously wounded in Saturday’s crash braved the public and his own pain of losing the girl he loved… to honor her and his friend.

matt hardy

I fought to keep my hands still and my breathing to a minimum as I held the camera. Once photographers were finally called to head back to the media box, my lungs filled with air and my eyes with tears.

[I am thankful to my friend Erin, who held me to her side as I wept… and then brought myself back to a calm state.]

And the rest of the night, I was tear-free.

Sometimes it must be bottled up, other times it will sneak out before you can stop and grab it back. As a journalist, am I able to just let myself go? For whatever reason, extreme emotion seems taboo.

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This weekend I had the privilege of listening to Ira Glass in person.* Glass is the host of NPR’s “This American Life,” a phenomenal show I recommend (obviously, by the adjective). In his talk in Troy, he expressed gratefulness that he was a journalist on the radio because it allowed him to show and articulate certain emotions in a way that broadcast journalists couldn’t. He gave the specific instances of humor and surprise.

 

I envy that.

I love to laugh, and if you listen to many interviews I conduct, funny comments will elicit a hearty “ha, ha!” from me. I just can’t help myself! Do those guffaws get included in the final story for air? Rarely.

Tears too, are out of the question. Broadcast journalists are expected to empathize, but not exaggerate. To be caring, yet composed. To sympathize in moderation. Restraint is the rule.

Today, I broke it.** And I don’t care.

 

Tell me again, why can’t we share?

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*More posts to come on his words.

**So did my colleague.

Good Tweetings

I start with a quick apology. I planned for this next post to be about the inundation of difficult news stories when working at a 24-hour statewide cable network (wow, I made that sound really boring), but a little blue bird network got in the way ^_^

For good reason.

I actually own a shirt that resembles the Twitter bird. Here's to you, Larry!

I actually own a shirt with a strong resemblance to the Twitter bird. Here’s to you, Larry!

I thank Twitter tonight for lifting so many hearts that were downcast by many incidents of tragedy. In addition to the fatal Northway crash, a Mechanicville Marine was killed in combat in Afghanistan this weekend. I actually learned of his death last night, after spending a whole day fighting to address the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers in a respectful and honorable fashion. I couldn’t write about it though because it wasn’t confirmed. Anyway, all this… left me with little to keep going.

 

Then: tonight happened.

You’ve likely seen updates as to what has happened, but here’s the brief story:

Matt Hardy is a football player at Shenendehowa High School. His girlfriend Deanna Rivers was one of the two killed in a crash involving alcohol Saturday night. Hardy is recovering from his serious injuries. As a way of giving him joy, his friends began a campaign to get #TebowCallMatt to trend nationwide on Twitter… and then, of course, have Mr. Tim Tebow call the teenager.

With thousands in support, the topic was seen on the far left menu column within minutes.

Soon after, the New York Jets’ QB dialed.

#TebowCalledMatt

#TebowCalledMatt

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There are so many lessons to be taken away from this story.

1. Tim Tebow is a good man.

2. The friends and family and anyone who tweeted #TebowCallMatt (and the sequential #MissyCallBailey and #DaleyCallBailey) are wonderful people.

3. That means there are a TON of amazing people out there.

4. Twitter is powerful 🙂

5. There is always hope.

6. _______________________ (your takeaway)

And the list goes on.

We fight very hard to understand the incomprehensible in life, and sometimes it is futile. In those times, may we keep seeking messages and displays of hope.

 

Just like these tweeters did.

#ThankYou518

The news you don’t want to report, but have to

This post may seem extremely obvious. As plain-as-the nose-on-your-face obvious. Nonetheless, writing this out is helping me heal from today.

News is a double-edged sword as a career. There are its shining moments, where you are able to shed light on criminal activity and corruption or highlight the beauty of a human soul. Then there are the destructive stories, where you challenge humanity, fairness and many other life questions that don’t always have pleasant answers.

Today was one of the latter.

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Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers

Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers

If you haven’t heard already, two seniors at Shenendehowa High School were killed in a fatal car crash last night (Saturday). Their two significant others, also young students at local schools, were seriously injured. The man who police believe to be responsible is expected to face charges: two counts of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. More of YNN’s coverage here.

In any crucial news story like this, I’m constantly prowling for information, discussing what other resources we can tap into, poring over Facebook profiles and Twitter to find tidbits about the subject of a story.

If it sounds somewhat stalker-like, well, it is.

If it sounds somewhat stalker-like, well… it is.

A news station’s goal is to be able to provide as many intimate details of a person so that ALL can understand who he/she is.

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These efforts aren’t automatic and mechanical, though. At least, they weren’t today. Personally, they were punctuated by moments of heartache, seconds of quick prayer, a hard swallow to stop tears from forming in my eyes.

As jaded as I have become – and will continue to be – I can’t forget pain. Who is really able to?

It’s a battle to be able to put emotions aside for a few minutes to dig into the facts of a story, and then return to the emotional numbness for just a few snatches of time before you get back to your work. It is our duty to get the facts out there.

All this… is part of my job.

 

… quite the challenge, the journalism profession.

 

Also, all this was further perpetuated by MORE BAD NEWS. That’s to come in the next post.

The compromise of a deadline

Last week I had the assignment of covering two debates prior to Primary Day, which is Thursday, September 13.

Reminder: GO OUT AND VOTE! 🙂

However, debates are not very easy to cover. Here’s why:

1. If the candidates do their job, there is a LOT of information

2. As a reporter, I have to pick and choose which issues to address

3. There isn’t much time to do so

4. It still has to be a cohesive story a viewer will want to watch

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Unfortunately, the first night I didn’t make my 11 p.m. deadline. I was crushed. It still ran as the top story in our hyperlocal news block because of other political coverage that ran late, but that doesn’t excuse my failing.

So what happened? After racking my brain, I believe it truly came down to wanting to put together the best piece for the audience (Here it is). If you weren’t at the debate, well, by hook or by crook, NOW you’ve got what you need to know on the screen in front of you. In making this my goal, I got caught up in wording and sequencing and most importantly, fairness… and the production just went too long. I didn’t finish on time.

Angry at myself, I went on to the next night’s debate, determined to have my package in before 11.

I did.

Though proud I had met my goal, I realized there was a sacrifice made. As I was writing, editing, regurgitating, I kept telling myself, “It’s not going to be perfect, but just get it done.”

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Therein lies something deeper.

As a journalist, meeting your deadline can often become the highest priority. The news needs to be released IMMEDIATELY.

If only newsrooms were like http://www.savagechickens.com (yes, check it out)

But in the process, are we losing quality?

I know that I did. Before I went to bed that night, I admitted to myself there was a better way I could’ve wrapped up that debate recap. The ending I used? Not horrible. Was it fluid? Could’ve been smoother.

It makes you wonder just how much good storytelling we lose because of the need to be first/prompt/within a certain time frame. Because we definitely do.

In the end, it comes down to whether you value the immediacy or the quality of the information. News… is news.

Too Much Snooki?

A colleage of mine posted this on Facebook: “If you worked at a station that makes… sure to do a story about Snooki having her baby, would you be ashamed?”

A solid, solid question, as I ended up being the “lucky” anchor who read the story.

For those of you who are wise enough to not know who Snooki is

I think more than my opinion, I’m interested in yours. However, I’ll share mine to get the ball rolling.

As much as we hate to think that personal developments in the lives of reality TV stars deserve airtime, they will get it. What has Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi done to be on news outlets? Nothing on the level of politicians, heroes, leaders, entrepreneurs, learners, teachers and others. Yet TV stations (and other media outlets) cover her life because she’s wormed her way into ours. Her obsessions, quirks, outspoken words and sometimes complete ignorance have horrified and captivated us to the point where any action of hers demands our attention.

As a journalist, I hate that her child’s birth gets coverage. As a subscriber to bad TV? I yelped when I heard she went into labor.

Managers who decide not to address Snooki’s son in their newscasts should be lauded and admired. However, I guarantee the majority will choose to make mention because they will receive the ratings and the attention from the general public. Not to mention… they were probably just as fascinated.

Do we blame the media? It certainly is an easy out. But before we shake our heads at the networks, let’s take a look at ourselves.

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I’m the first one to say I need to change my interests before I judge that of others.

One last look (for now)

By the end of this month, YNN.com will become enhanced for Time Warner Cable subscribers. To clarify: those of you who are not TWC customers will only have access to the print version of our news stories… and not video.

Here’s the warning on our websites

This means those of you who follow me and live miles and miles away from an area serviced by TWC will no longer be able to see video clips 😦

As a result, here’s a final barrage of clips that you can check out now, while they’re still accessible.*

Anchoring

Plane flips on Saratoga Lake

Camillus’ new triathalon

A call for a tax compromise

Couple killed in car crash

College Financial Planning

Dinosaurs at the library (!)

Paraplegic dog recovers, is adopted

Coast Guard rescue on Lake Ontario

Reporting

The dangers of ‘checking in’

Community replaces stolen bikes

Troy’s National Night Out

Local Sikh temple responds to shooting

Local businessman killed, area responds

New licensing law has bar owners up in arms

A rally against the Cabaret Law

Post Time at Saratoga: Going Off Broadway (special)

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As always, thanks for watching! For your enjoyment, the following photo.

Who doesn’t love pie? Especially 3 kinds of it?

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*I am working hard to try to get an online customer plan so that people who are unable to have TWC can still access YNN.com . It’s apparently in the works, but may not be for awhile. Double frowning-face 😦 😦

The ‘About-Face’

It’s been just three days since a dozen people were killed and 58 people injured in the movie theater massacre in Aurora, CO. That same day, NY State Police charged two teenagers in Montgomery County with the murder of two other teenagers.

You know what else? It was also Opening Day for the 144th season at the Saratoga Race Course.

I didn’t work that Friday, but I was constantly refreshing Twitter, checking my YNN emails, and I was proud of how my station covered these events. As much as the track is an important part of our region, our news team knew that such pain needed to take precedence. At the same time, they chose not to ignore the lighter stories.

I call it the ‘about-face.’ As an anchor, you want to be solemn when speaking of the details of grievous moments. But two minutes later, you could be seeing a story about a county fair.

(Note: To be fair, there usually is a wider gap between such content. Props to good producers)

While this back-and-forth is difficult to adapt to, we can’t deny that all sorts of news can happen at any and all times. Yes, there are points where you deliberately back off the fluff. But refusal to accept the more palatable stories isn’t realistic either, seeing that a balance of both sides is reflected in human life.

In one week, one of my closest friends will be getting married. I’ll be standing inches away from her as she commits to be faithful to the man she loves, and guaranteed, my heart will be overflowing with joy.

Yet a few days ago, this same dear friend’s grandmother was hospitalized. In her words: “Barring miracles, she won’t last too long.” Tears were streaming. How does one deal with a deeply rooted grief when a long-anticipated celebration is on the horizon? Do you have to choose?

I wish I had the answer to help her cope. I don’t. What I do know is that you can’t cold-shoulder one or the other. The two impacting moments are part of her, and my life. As they unfold, we will do our best to address them.

We’ll do an about-face. But we’ll turn around, over and over, as often as we have to. At some point, the spins will blur.

The benefits of being uprooted

You’d be surprised how often this thought comes to mind:

“I can’t believe I’m here.”

I never dreamed that I would live in a place where all-you-can-eat blue crabs were at my disposal. I would’ve laughed at you if you told me I’d ride 100 miles through Delmarva’s countryside… partially because I would have no idea where Delmarva was. I couldn’t even imagine that I’d find myself ringside at a boxing match or in a press box at a horse racing track. Yet all these things have come into fruition because of this career o’ mine.

Not that I’ve found my feet in dozens of locations. Really, it’s only been two regions. Nonetheless, I’ve been able to set my sights on cities, waters, events and lifestyles I didn’t know existed.

So cheers to exploring! Cheers to new friends who will show me familiar places. Cheers to old friends who are willing to venture out to wherever I am and discover alongside me. More importantly, cheers to all the food I’ve been able to consume. My tummy is quite the willing traveler.

some photos from just this week…

Swimming @ Grafton Lakes State Park

Open Mic @ the Daily Grind in Troy

Sipping @ the Epicurean in Latham

The Collar City’s farmers’ market

Anticipating the opening of No. 12 Second St, Troy

^_^

Four Years In

This week, I hit four years as an on-air journalist. I’ve been at YNN for one year, then three at WMDT-47 in Salisbury. It’s not a very long career to look back on. Even so, I still marvel at the fact that yes, I am living my dream. Each step of the way here, I haven’t been alone.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to spend time with some of the people dearest to my heart. I’ve known these cherished friends for years, some, decades. Being with them, sharing my worries and fears, exulting in accomplishments – I have been, am being, and will always be fulfilled.

So this post is for you.

daily reminders

Your love and faith have gotten me to where I am today. These cards that I have on my desk at work are just two tiny reminders of the people who push me to keep believing and set the standard of what “success” really is.

Thank you, and thank God.

infinite in Three,

innae

P.S. There is another image on my desk…

haha how can you NOT love this panda?

(kudos to CMacofTroy who brought this meme into my life)