It’s been a long time since I played “beat the clock” in a newsroom.
I had meetings set up with about a dozen pastors involved in the “Emergent Church” movement. They were getting together in a semi-regular lunch meeting and I had scheduled some time with one of the members to sit down, have a cup of coffee and talk with them about the Nashville faith community.
It’s one of the benefits of a station allowing you to get to know the people you’ll be reporting on and working with. During the morning meeting though, I offered to turn a story. I was intrigued by the release of the man who shot Pope John Paul II back in 1981. For those who remember (it’s hard to believe that some of you weren’t even born then!) the Pope travelled to the prison in 1983 and personally forgave Ali Agca for trying to kill him.
I offered to interview some of the pastors and then some people on the street about the concept of forgiveness. Jesus tells us we should forgive people not once or a few times, but “70 times 7” times. It’s in the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus instructed us how to pray. It must be pretty important, but it’s so hard to do.
So armed with my Sony HD camera I found the restaurant downtown and met with the pastors. They took up the topic of forgiveness and had a great conversation for about an hour. As they ate lunch, I ran outside and interviewed some locals about the concept of forgiveness and why they think it’s so darned hard for us to achieve. After the pastors finished up, I interviewed a couple more.
My story was slated to run at 5, and I thought it might be tight, especially with my lack of understanding of the newsroom computer system. I got a call about 1 o’clock that the story had been moved to the 4 o’clock show. Oh boy.
I didn’t have a lot of b-roll to work with so I figured I ought to do a standup and shoot some folks walking down Broadway. It then dawned on me “I don’t know how to get back to the station”
A call to the desk got me directions and I was back by 2.
Now for those who haven’t worked solo before or in a long time, let me tell you: reporters take their photographers for granted. It isn’t just shooting the pictures. Photographers have your back when time is short. You can write while they load the video in the system. They edit much faster than me.
So by the time I had finished loading my video, logging my soundbytes and beginning to write, it was 3:45.
I wrote the story in about 10 minutes, put the a-roll on the timeline, threw some b-roll above it and then called for our chief photographer to bail me out with rest. I had a studio live shot tag still to write and it the show had already begun. Thankfully, we didn’t hit any technical glitches and it made slot. It wasn’t the story I envisioned, but it was okay.
I’m not one of those reporters who love the adrenaline rush of trying to beat the clock. I don’t like it. I’d rather work a story, get it just how I want it and then have time to edit and make changes. The news business doesn’t always afford you to do this.
I’m encouraged though by the vj concept. This won’t happen very often on the religion and ethics beat. Most of the time my stories will be set up at least a day ahead.
I did make some great contacts with pastors in Nashville the past few days. Story ideas are coming in the mail and over the phone and over the computer at a good pace, and I’ve only been here a week. I’m thinking ahead to February so if anyone has story ideas, send them to me.
Tomorrow I have more meetings set up with pastors. I hope to get the blog up tomorrow. We found a name and the domain is available, if we get it going tomorrow I’ll make sure to post the information here and get Brittney to post it (and the contest winner) on www.Nashvilleistalking.com
I’m really excited about covering the religion beat in Nashville. It never had a chance to succeed in Memphis as management was never really behind it. Judging from the reaction so far, this may be one reason for people to change their viewing habits.