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.


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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

6 thoughts on “Amuse thyself

  1. Jimmyz

    “What creativity? It was about amusing ourselves.”
    Can I get an Amen?

    You know I’ve never met Mr. Turner, but always thought he got a raw deal, and was glad to see him do what he did. Sounds like he’s a pretty decent guy to boot. Let’s hope politics doesn’t change that.

    Reply
  2. Mr. Town Planner

    I saw when it aired — one of the greatest pieces of understated video journalism in the history of mankind. My mouth was agap. The airplanes did the all the talking, well, all the talking that was needed –Sorry, but there is no way in hell this site should be a stadium candidate: noise, safety, security, etcetera, etcetera. Thank you Obewon Richards. I hope the commission chairman understands, but no way.

    Reply
  3. Richard

    Doug- That is the great stuff that ends up being show at Poynter! Subtle and yet it screams awesome. You, sir, inspire me.

    Reply

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