Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let's get social!

Within the past year, I've really focused on these story tease videos on my/the TV station's social media platforms (see 3 examples in the video attached to this blog). This week, our EP for digital platforms at KSHB-TV told me that these videos often get 3 times as many views as the story I put on TV every day! It really makes these short web videos more important to my daily workload. I think these videos are especially essential in breaking news situations so we can get the info out to viewers immediately, rather than asking them to wait for our 4PM newscast.

A picture really can tell 1,000 words

Imagine this: It's 4:20 in the morning. You're sleeping in a hotel bed just two blocks from the airport. Out of nowhere, a bullet pierces through the window of your room, hitting you in the leg. Police have no idea why someone was shooting off a gun and believe the person was firing randomly in the hotel parking lot.
That was my story earlier this week. It didn't really hit me until I took this photo showing the bullet hole right through the hotel window. I've slept in so many hotel rooms like this. Sometimes news stories hit home. Luckily, the man that was shot is going to be okay. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Sweeps

Tomorrow wraps up a month of grueling, tough work.
Tomorrow marks the end of the February ratings period.
For anyone who isn't familiar with the TV industry, there are four months (November, February, May and July) where Nielson records viewing figures for television programs. Ratings can really impact advertising sales, but the period also provides a sense of pride, hard work and creativity. In our newsroom, as in most mid-size markets, ratings are crucial.
and quite frankly, I've never seen a news operation work harder than our station this sweeps period. From sending reporter/photographer teams to the Panhandle for ongoing Gulf oil spill cleanup efforts, to riding along during statewide pill mill stings, to traveling all the way to Washington D.C. to cover a local soldier's ongoing battle with critical injuries sustained from combat.
Personally, I'm proud of our station's effort this month, and I'm proud of my own achievements. Every day, I enterprised new and different story ideas, I worked my beat and used my contacts to produce exclusive content. Several times I led the 6pm newscast, with an ordinarily dry and predictable beat. And while I'm satisfied with my own/the team's accomplishments, we are always finding ways to improve. That's why I love this industry. That's why i appreciate the four months out of the year when hard work really pays off, and the cream rises to the top.
To my dedicated and hardworking co-workers and managers at NBC-2, this "job well done" goes to you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Training New Reporters

How quickly time passes. I cannot believe I've been with Waterman Broadcasting for almost two years!

The past two weeks I've spent a lot of time training new reporters. (We had five new reporters start since 2011. Good news!) It wasn't long ago I was learning the tricks of the trade from my fellow NBC-2 coworkers. At that time, I was the youngest reporter the station had ever hired. Now, nearly all of those coworkers have moved on to other markets and are very successful. Training my coworkers the last several days has been a great learning experience for me as well. It helps me to reflect on areas I could use improvement, and also skills I've worked hard to hone.

In honor of the new year, here's a list of skills I'd like to improve upon in 2011:
(1) Being a video journalist, I often get lazy with standups. This year I'll work hard to use demonstrative standups and liveshots.
(2) I also need to stay on top of my multimedia accounts. Twitter, Facebook and blogs, when used effectively, can be excellent tools for journalists. I plan to incorporate these mediums more.
(3) I'd like to incorporate more investigative digging into my daily workload. That could mean producing quick turn investigations or researching after my regular shift this year.

Here's to the new year!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First Assignment

When I visited Waterman on Friday, Turchetta suggested I spend the weekend driving around our viewing area and meeting members of our community. He said to ask them as a new reporter, what I should know about the area and what they believe are the biggest issues plaguing  their community. 

Overall, I learned quite a bit from yesterday's assignment. On Friday night, I ate at a restaurant in Fort Myers Beach. My server was from Cape Coral. She told me all about the foreclosure rates in her community and one mortgage company in particular that's known for taking advantage of Floridians (I won't mention the company's name, but I plan to pitch the idea in a story meeting on Monday). Next, I drove to Naples, a luxurious community with many wealthy individuals. Again, I heard complaints about foreclosure rates and how so many people there can no longer afford their expensive second homes. I spoke to one couple who said they purchased a home for $300,000, which one year ago would have been on the market for over a million.  

On Saturday, I didn't speak to quite as many people. After finishing a handful of errands, I headed out to Coconut Point in Estero. Coconut Point is one of many new retail developments in Southwest Florida. It is a 90,000 square foot shopping mall, with  restaurants, retail, office space, a theatre and even condominiums. I figured it would be a good spot to meet individuals from all over the area. 

Upon arrival, I spotted a woman sitting alone outside of The Grape Bistro. I started a conversation with her and found out she was a middle school teacher in Collier County. She told me as a reporter on the education beat I would spend many days in Collier County. She said many teachers are upset about the takeover of Superintendent Dennis Thompson. She commented that teachers would not be receiving their steps this year, and that teachers and school board members are unsure how to evaluate Thompson and how to proceed with educational goals in Collier County. Then this lady's friend, a teacher at Pinewoods Elementary in Estero, joined us. They invited me to share an appetizer and drink with them. The Pinewoods teacher discussed Lee County education budget cuts. She told me many of the teachers were laid off last year, and about half are currently being offered their positions back for the next school year. She said many have already found new jobs, and it has created "quite an emotional mess". She also said she hasn't received her steps in two years, even though she has been an educator in Florida for 28 years. The ladies were so friendly and interesting that I ended up spending a few hours at The Grillroom restaurant with them. Of course, most of our chat was centered on fun topics such as great places to visit/hang out in Southwest Florida, but our conversation was very interesting and it was delightful to meet them. So far, everyone I've met here has been really great. People are more than willing to chat, and everyone has a great story to tell. I look forward to those I will soon meet. My adventure continues today.

Meeting the team

I met the Waterman team on Friday (June 26). It was really nice to meet everyone before my first day at the station. I loved the atmosphere- a big, open newsroom with reporters/anchors/producers/assignment desk workers all intermixed. Quite a few employees were communicating, swapping ideas, and asking one another for assistance before their evening deadline. The station has a very learning-friendly environment. I also officially met Turchetta. It was great to finally meet him in person, after researching every aspect of his life. I know by meeting everyone and seeing how the news room operates, that this will be a place I can grow in. This will be a place that allows me to use my skills as a multimedia journalist (digging, using the Interwebs, communicating) and work my butt off (which I prefer). This will be a place where I can learn from the best, with mentors that really know what they're doing. This will be the place where I can practice real journalism (not cheap news or shock news). 

"A Change Would Do You Good"

You know, I always say I'm going to make writing in my blog a more regular activity, but it just hasn't happened for me yet. I hope to seriously change that with my move and new career. I'm a Missourian no longer, as I officially switched my driver's license and address to Fort Myers, FL. Let me tell you, the last two weeks have brought a whirlwind of change. I couldn't be more excited to have landed a job where I did. I'll be working at Waterman Broadcasting (NBC-2, ABC-7), a company that still values investigative reporting during a time when that type of reporting has been slashed. A company with management that cares and a team-oriented focus.

 I'll be working as a video journalist, but the position didn't exactly fall into my lap. Let me start from the beginning. I was applying and applying and applying for broadcast positions. It seemed as if I was getting nowhere, so I launched a new game plan. I went through my list of places I had applied and started e-mailing news directors, assistant news directors, reporters, photographers…basically anyone who I could find an e-mail address for. One person got back to me. That man was the assistant news director at WBBH. He gave me an assignment: “My name is Greg Turchetta. You have 48 hours to find out as much as you can about me. Go!” I spent the next two days calling Turchetta’s wife, his wife's friends, his high school friends, ex coworkers, family members etc. Then I used the databases/search engines I learned in investigative reporting courses in college to find his driver’s license number, voter registration info and marriage/divorce licenses. I could have stopped there, but I was on a mission. I called as many state departments as I could to request open records for information on Turchetta. In the end, I compiled a 7-page report about Turchetta and e-mailed it to him. He called me within 10 minutes of receiving it….shocked by how much information I had found. Then, he gave me another mission: “You look a little uncomfortable in your live shots. Send me another DVD with your best live shot material.” I knew I had already given Turchetta my best material on my resume tape, so I called KOMU-8's managing editor, Randy Reeves, and scheduled to do a live shot at 5/6 the next day. Things went well, thanks to my wonderful producers (Akiko Oda, Kacey Breda, Mallory Perryman and Andrew Mckibbin) and my great live truck operator (J.P. Regan) I sent in the live shot DVD and didn’t hear back from Turchetta for a week. Then he e-mailed with bad news: the VJ position was frozen. He asked if I was interested in a producer/photographer position in the meantime until a VJ position became available. I said yes. He got back to me a short time later with more bad news: all positions were frozen. He said he was sorry and that he would keep me on his list. I was bummed, but then around 7pm I received a call from Turchetta saying they had a budget meeting and found the funds to hire me and one other VJ . He asked if I could get there before the end of June. So…here I am. I moved into my condo on Wednesday (June 24, 2009) and I start at Waterman on Monday (June 29). In the past few days, I have changed my car (my run down Mitsubishi could have never made the trip down), changed my address, changed my auto insurance, changed my driver's license, changed my hair (it's now more brown than blonde) and changed my community. I'm excited to be joining the people of Southwest Florida, and I look forward to delivering news they can count on. I'm honored to join the Waterman team. I'll keep all you readers posted on my adventures in the Sunshine state.