Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hiring Reporter - Bad Drivers Need Not Apply

This week I confirmed for myself that I prefer reporting over producing.  I'm not saying that one is better than the other because both are needed to make good t.v. news, but my personality is more geared toward that of a reporter.  I like when my environment changes, which reporters experience every day.  Sometimes, when I'm driving to a story, I think how unique it is to be a reporter.  For a couple hours everyday, my car becomes my office.  I make phone calls and talk to public information officers while I'm driving.  In fact, the other day I did have some important factual questions I wanted the Boone County Public Works PIO to clear up for me, so I pulled over in a subdivision in order to jot down some notes.  Just like that, my car became my office.  
Is there a chance I like reporting because I get to drive around all day? I sure hope not.  I like reporting for more reasons than just that, but the driving definitely makes the job fun.  I can't understand how producers are able to walk into the station knowing that they won't leave the station again until they're going home for the night.  And when you're putting in twelve hour days - that's a dreadfully long time to sit in one chair, at one computer.  It's tiring just thinking about it.  As a reporter, I get to do what I love - drive around town, radio on, thinking about my story, the video I want to shoot, the next interview I'm doing, and thinking how I'm going to make the mess of soundbites and facts gel into a coherent story.  It's such a relaxing way to spend the day.
Besides the driving itself, I enjoy seeing a new part of town everyday.  I shot, wrote and edited a VO the other day in a little town called McBaine.  In order to get to the town, I simply followed a road that I take everyday to school, but I simply continued until that big road became a back country road.  If I never traveled down this road that distance, I would have never known that this little town, McBaine, even exists; I wouldn't know that McBaine has a cafe called Lucy's that the locals visit, and I wouldn't have seen the expansive flood plain with a windy country road twisting through it.  If I wasn't a reporter, forced to leave the bubble I commute in everyday, I wouldn't know how Mid-Missouri really feels.
I also enjoy meeting and interviewing the people that make this small town run. I like talking to the school teachers, school board members, construction workers, PIOs, Public Works Directors and all the people that keep Columbia's engine humming.  I feel privileged to see how a town runs behind the scenes.  The other day, I interviewed the Interim Director for Boone County's Public Works department.  When I was interviewing him on a new bridge in town, he also let me know about the new GPS system the department is installing in every Public Works truck - pretty cool insider information if you ask me.
If I was a producer, I wouldn't have all these experiences.  I wouldn't be payed to drive my car around town, or talk to community leaders, or tour my town.  Reporting is for me because for eleven hours every day, I can focus on one story and learn about one thing.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the information overload that I get when I flip open my laptop and read the news.  No information overload when the tables are turned and I'm the reporter.  When I'm the reporter, all these other news stories are out of my mind, allowing me to focus on my story, my one story, and the task of making it the most comprehensive and comprehendible story it can be.

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