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.

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

^_^

Want to see my work?

Here’s another post where you can check out some of my recent anchoring and reporting clips, since YouTube only has outdated stuff. Be patient… there are TONS of ads before each clip.

Thanks to ALL of you who have always supported me and believed in me.

Anchoring
Reporting