Thursday, May 28, 2009

Planning the Spontaneous Story

After years of sitting in classrooms studying Julius Caesar, Monet's art, and the heart ventricles, I can barely remember the details of what I learned. How disappointing.  My parents should have used that tuition money for a couple more trips to Vegas.  KIDDING!  In my old age - twenty-one years and eight months - I might not remember who designed St. Paul's in London (Wren), but I have learned the importance of planning ahead.  I believe that the golden secret to doing well in school is one word - planning.  In High School I would constantly tweak my calendar, fine-tuning how many days I needed to prepare for an exam.  I was proud of this skill - usually the first item I mentioned on "What's your best quality?" icebreakers.  However, since I've become a journalist, I've learned that planning can only get you so far.  
Yes, I still plan before interviews, scribbling what questions I want answered, narrowing my story's focus and visualizing my sequences.  But the more reports I file, the more I've embraced the spontaneous moment, the moment a reporter can not plan.  This past Monday was Memorial Day and I was covering a ceremony honoring veterans.  When I first got to the event, I shot video and interviewed the volunteers prepping for the event.  The sky looked moments away from raining, so I shot fast.  As I was shooting and listening to the volunteers I overheard the event organizer talking about the live-band cancelling because of the rain.  What's a salute to veterans ceremony without any music to do the saluting?  Just like that, while doing my typical eavesdropping on strangers, my story's focus changed. As a journalist I had to adapt to this change, this spontaneous moment, even though this twist changed my original focus and my pre-planned video sequences.  As hard as it was, I had to abandon the planned video in order to shoot in the moment.  I reacted to the spontaneous situation unfolding around me.  But, in the back of my mind, in split-seconds, I was still planning the next shot, the next question, the new angle.  All this while still being in the moment - just another day at work.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. You need to indent more often. This should have been 6 paragraphs. That makes it easier to read. And it might read just a trifle too self-congratulatory.