It's a requirement for the graduation project at Carlynton to either do an interview or job shadow. I thought it would be a lot more beneficial to do a job shadow, so I decided to ask my Aunt Marie (of John Green, KDKA fame) if she would ask around KDKA and see if anyone would be willing to let me shadow them.
I want to break here and say honestly: I had no idea what I wanted to do really. I just knew I wanted to go into journalism of some sort. I was open to shadowing any form of reporter, editor, or whatever. My aunt suggested feature reporter Dave Crawley and he agreed.
So this past Tuesday I went on a job shadow. Dave Crawley (we learned after like a half hour of twiddling my thumbs at his desk) apparently was on vacation in Columbus, so I wandered into the 9 am meeting with no one to really shadow.
The 9 AM meeting is where the 4, 5, and 6 o clock news truly starts. Reporters converge in a conference room and the assignments are handed out: reporters take stories, and photographers are assigned to those reporters fitting the need (ie if they need a live truck versus a regular van without the mast). Following the meeting (which was actually pretty fun. I've heard horror stories about morning meetings, but these seem pretty chill) I went back to Dave Crawley's desk. His desk is across from Heather Abraham's desk, who was working on a piece for sweeps and was explaining how that process works. She's a morning reporter and is a very kind person answering a lot of my strange questions. His desk is also next to Lynne Hayes-Freeland, who started talking to me about what was going on. I asked her if she'd be willing to have me shadow her for the day, and she kindly agreed.
Her assignment for the day was a follow up on the previous day's story about guns at a Propel charter school. She was looking for a direction to take the follow up, seeing as both suspects were in custody and no official word had come from Propel about changes (or lack thereof) to their security policy. So she looked at another angle - the parents.
She reached out to different people and waited for a response. In the meantime, one of the news director people took me aside and showed me how the microwave/broadcast trucks get from really tall mast to television screens. Basically, there are towers in every nearby county that they beam to, and with those towers they can either take in the live feed, or record their video packages.
I then talked to a producer (she was producing the noon news, which was about a half hour away) who showed me the insane program that connects assignments to reporters and anchors and directors and basically the thing that makes the news run. Each story has a spot, a source, and a script to accompany that. It's a lot of moving parts and she says for the noon news she starts at 6AM scripting.
Since we hadn't heard back from anyone about the gun story, I was then taken to the control room to watch the noon news. About 3 minutes before the broadcast, Ms. Hayes-Freeland told me that there was good news, and bad news. Bad news was that we had to go interview someone. Now. The good news was that I could watch the 4, 5, and 6 o clock news from the control room.
I met up with her and the photographer (who fittingly enough is the father of a former scout in our troop) and we went to interview two parents with two separate opinions.
When we got back to the station (around 2 at this point) we had nothing to do but wait for the stuff to upload to the server, so I took a lunch break. When I came back I listened to the footage we had and she gave me an assignment: see what sound bites I would use if it were my story. We picked entirely different clips from the same footage. Interesting.
She shared her script for the story, and then introduced me to an editor, Kenny (not editing our story, but something for the 6). I spend about half an hour with him and he was about to hand me the reigns (which I honestly didn't have a clue how to use the final cut/premiere/after effects hybrid) when I was tapped to watch the 4 o'clock news from the control room. I watched the 5 from the telepromter/camera operation area. All in all it was a fantastic day, I learned a lot about the industry ("you do realize this is a dying field" - I was told this at least three times) and saw a newscast from start to finish. It was amazing and kinda confirmed that this is what I want to do with my life.
So again I'd like to thank my aunt, Ms. Hayes-Freeland, Mr. Colabine, Kenny, Erin Shea, and everyone else who made it possible for me to have this experience. It was the most exciting day of my week at the very least.
|The Teleprompter Deck|
|Look at All Those Monitors (Control Room)|
|The View from the Teleprompter Deck|
|The Robotic Camera System|
|This is the KDKA 5 O'Clock News Pano|