I headed off this morning to cover the special session of the Tennessee Baptist Convention as it dealt with Belmont University. It’s a big story statewide and even bigger here in Nashville. Close to 2,000 messengers from Baptist churches across the state were at Two Rivers Baptist Church for the meeting, that some expected might turn ugly.
I walked into the press room and learned we would not be allowed to videotape in the sanctuary where the debate would take place. The TBC had placed a tv monitor in the room which we could watch and videotape. A box was set up so we could patch our audio cables from our cameras and pick up the sound.
I’m still learning this camera and the vj way and ran out to the truck to find an XLR audio cable to do the patch. The only one in my truck was about 2 feet long and I needed about 5 feet to get from the box to the camera. When I returned I was told the monitor would be turned off once the debate started.
So…how was a one person crew going to get everything for the story? If I stayed in the press room to roll on the feed, I would miss what was happening inside. If I were to go inside to hear the debate and the issues, I would miss the video feed once it came back on.
I called the station and told the desk I felt a two-man crew was needed on this one. I knew late in the day after a decision was made by the convention, it was going to be tough for one person to grab people for interviews and get to another press room for a news conference from the leadership.
The assignment desk and my bosses listened to me. How about that? I’m still trying to get used to management who actually listens to their reporters. A few minutes later, another vj showed up to get the video so I could concentrate on the information.
The convention didn’t vote until late in the afternoon on the second and deciding motion and the leadership didn’t make themselves available until around 5 o’clock. I had the 6pm lead story. The desk listened to me again around 3 and sent a live truck. We walked out of the news conference around 5:15. I found four soundbytes from Al’s tapes, wrote a quick package, voiced it and Al had it edited by 5:45.
The story wouldn’t have made it had I been the only person to do it all. Al had loaded the other soundbytes and what video we were able to get before the news conference began. I sat in on the entire special session to get all of the information I needed. As far as I know, we were the only station in town live at the church for 6, with the vote and the reaction from leadership. I also got Belmont’s pr folks to e-mail the producer a statement which we had in a graphic after my story ran.
All the message board talk about why the vj model won’t work is about days like this. Some stories (most for me) work quite well for one-man-bands or vjs, stories like today’s do not. The desk and the producers have to be willing to listen to the reporters in the field to keep this idea from blowing up in our faces. Good for us we have those folks doing just that.