Daily Archives: March 4, 2013

Amuse thyself

Most lines of work have day-to-day routines, which the worker seeks to break.  Mine is no different.

Go do a story about how cold it is outside.  There is no more “routine” story than the cold-weather story. If my employer wants a cold weather story, I’ll cheerfully do it, and make it as awesome as I possibly can.  But to amuse myself, I will strive to avoid using the word “cold” in my copy.

Why?  I like synonyms.  It’s a challenge, albeit a 6th grade level one.  It amuses me.

Looking upward:  Jon Samuels, WXIA

Looking upward: Jon Samuels, WXIA

Wednesday, I was told to do a story about Clayton County’s interest in providing a site for a new Falcons stadium.  The story had apparently appeared on another news outlet several hours earlier.  I rang up Clayton County’s newly-elected commission chairman, Jeff Turner, and we met and chatted.

(I love me some Jeff Turner.  Aside from being an amusing and accessible guy, I love Turner’s story.  Fired by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners as Clayton County’s police chief, he beat the incumbent chairman in the last election — and now runs the board that fired him.)

Turner directed Jon Samuels and me to a gnarly plot of land along Old Dixie Highway east of I-75, the spot Turner thinks would be ideal for a football stadium.  I knew the area to be in the landing path at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.  “It’d be like Shea Stadium there,” I observed during a two-shot, and Turner concurred with a laugh.

Samuels and I arrived on site to shoot the real estate.  Shooting real estate is almost always a grim task.  The video is static and tends to be dull.

Planes were flying overhead constantly, landing at the airport’s three runways.

“Every shot should have an airplane in it,” I suggested to Jon.

“Every shot?”

“Every shot.”130227050746_rough_20and_20ready_0

“That’s gonna take awhile,” he said.

Some time ago, Pete Smith and I produced a story about a church in Avondale Estates.  It was a weekday.  The church was closed.  Video-wise, we had real estate.

The church was alongside a MARTA line.  Pete and I decided each shot of the church should have a MARTA train in it, solely to keep our day interesting.  Turned out, the piece looked interesting too.

As we prowled the undeveloped / abandoned property described by Turner, Jon documented it  with an eye skyward. Fortunately, it was a busy afternoon at Hartsfield-Jackson.

The edited story wasn’t about aircraft, but the planes provided a visual thread that the piece badly needed.

In the copy, I didn’t make any reference to the planes until the middle-to-end of the story.  It underplayed the aircraft element, while providing a potential payoff for anybody who was actually watching the story closely.  Funnily enough, nobody at my station made note of it.

But a competitor — part of our vast 7pm viewing audience — sent me a note on the Facebooks, complimenting “the creativity.”

What creativity?  It was about amusing ourselves.