I walked into KABB FOX 29 with unavoidable familiarity. Today, I wasn't the three-year-old daughter whose father worked in the sports department all those years ago, but an intern. Yes, today was the first day of my internship at one of San Antonio's broadcast news stations.I entered the newsroom dazed, and a bit confused too, but hey, if some of the people here recalled me running around as a toddler, I guess I'd be okay.
My internship requires me to come to the station around 1:30, for the purpose of attending the news staff meeting and then going out with a reporter and photographer for the day. Once my supervisor, Assistant News Director James Keith, introduced me to the staff, I went and stood next to the other three interns, eagerly listening to the stories being pitched for the day. Once it concluded, I felt unsure as to who I should follow for my first assignment. I mean, I was the new kid; the other interns had been there a bit longer, so they had an idea how the system worked.
I ended up shadowing Erin Nichols, the newest reporter on staff. We traveled with Justin Duhn, our photographer, to Southside I.S.D. The school board held a special board meeting concerning the possible removal of Superintendent Juan Jasso through a potential buyout with his contract. Opponents of Jasso claimed that he used "bully tactics", although there hasn't been any evidence to those claims. Jasso is currently on administrative leave.
Prior to attending the meeting, however, we met up with a former member of the Southside Independent School Board at the district meeting for an interview. I watched as Erin talked to her both on and off-camera, and how she took notes after the camera interview to recap all of what was said.
We had about an hour before the board meeting started, so the three of us went to grab dinner at a nearby Subway. While there, Justin explained to me that such dine-ins were extremely rare.I looked at my stomach and thought, "Yikes".
We headed back to the district building, and it was in the lobby where Erin asked me to help her log. Logging, as I found out, is picking the notable sound bites from a camera-interview for the video package. (Pretty much like selecting the quotes one says for a printed news piece.) I sat with her and helped her log, also researching about Texas laws concerning the penalties of buying out a school official. Later, we walked into the conference room and began setting up. Although we were aware of the significance of staying throughout the whole board meeting ( a lesson heavily emphasized in my reporting class), we had to leave a bit early in order to get another on-camera interview with Southside parent and activist, Robin Cantu.
Cantu spoke of her opposition to Jasso and his impact on the district. She favored him having his contract bought out, and also spoke about the district's issue with "bad food" from Aramark.
Following that interview, the three of us headed back to the station, and I watched as Erin put together the initial steps to the package: writing the story. She paced herself throughout the writing process, although she was in a bit of a time crunch, because she and Justin were asked to cover the Spurs game (Game 6) celebrations at a local pizzeria later that night.
While my hours are varied (based on when the reporter returns to the station, needs to do a live shot, etc.), I departed for the day. I really liked shadowing someone recently-hired into a larger market, and it was also ironic to find out that Erin interned at FOX 29 back when she was a journalism student at UIW (University of Incarnate Word). With the first day finished, I felt the station fitting like a glove. My dad worked here 17 years ago, why wouldn't it work for his daughter?
San Antonio in the summer is really hot. If possible, avoid direct-sunlight interviews that force you to feel like you're burning (unless absolutely necessary).
Having an hour to eat is a treasure, cherish it. That doesn't happen very often.
Logging: (see entry above)
Nerves are normal, people are there to help you.
Although board meetings are really "boring", be sure to stay the whole meeting.
It's the second day of interning, and I felt like I had a slight grasp to how things run here. I decided to shadow Erin and Justin again, just because my familiarity to how they work.
Today we were assigned to focus on Southside I.S.D. again, but on their decision to not renew their food contract with Aramark. The district, who received many complaints about "bad food" over the years, are now looking to hire two new managers to oversee self-serve production. The district will also save about $200,000.
We spoke to Interim Superintendent Ricardo Vela, who hoped that the district provide students with better meals on a daily basis. Southside PIO Jorge Topete anticipated for the meals not only meet health requirements, but that they be "tasty". This comment followed their acknowledgment that some students in the area only eat one meal a day, and they wanted to provide breakfasts and lunches that would feed them.
Following those on-camera interviews, Topete gave us a tour of Southside High School's cafetorium (which looked like the one in High School Musical, by the way). We were able to get some shots (wide, medium, close-up) that provided a better perspective of how lunch is conducted.
Throughout the tour, Erin anticipated doing a followup interview with Robin Cantu, who we spoke to the day before, and who engaged in the movement to bring better food service. However, she called Erin to cancel due to a family emergency. This left Erin without an angle to write her story. Throughout that time, I suggested contacting a few people (parents, businesses) involved with the food movement. Although she liked those ideas, we were pressed for time. We left the high school and decided to park at the Dollar General across the street in hopes of finding a parent's and student's reaction to the contact cancellation.
Fortunately, we landed an interview with a man and his son. The son was an incoming junior, meaning he was 17 (and underage). We asked his father for his permission to be interviewed, which he approved. With their help, we finally had an angle to our story. Following both interviews, we headed back to the station ready to log.
Erin assigned me to help her log her sound bites on the computer, which differed slightly from how she manually logged the day before. She asked me to find bites from Robin Cantu (from the day before) concerning her thoughts about the district's response to her requests. From there I recorded the time marks and bite lengths for a few minutes.
If an interview cancels last minute, quickly find another angle to the story, even if that means parking at a Dollar General parking lot for a few minutes.
Always ask underage sources for their parent's permission to be interviewed on camera beforehand. Children under 18 cannot be filmed unless said so by their parent.
It's another day at FOX 29, and a busy one at that. Many stories were being pitched left and right, and the directors and producers were going back and forth on what to air for the show. For the afternoon I decided to follow Christina Coleman and her photographer, Paul.
Christina was assigned to gather reactions from public officials concerning Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), a bill that would restrict women in the state from getting abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. SB 5 would also require that abortions be performed at surgical centers by doctors who have admitting privileges to perform the procedures, leading to the possible closure of 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state (approximately 90 percent). She informed me that she did a similar story the day before, but gathered citizen opinions.
Christina contacted a pastor at Community Bible Church, a well-known community church in San Antonio, for their opinion about the bill. She scheduled an interview with a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic, but tried various times to land an interview with a church. During this time, Christina emphasized the importance of getting both sides of the story (an aspect I was well familiar with, but crucial to know in the professional environment regardless). Shortly afterward, Pat Rodgers, from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, agreed to speak with s/ous.
We still had some time to spare before leaving the station, so Christina went ahead and showed me newsblues.com and tvjobs.com, two sites concerning job postings in the field. She went ahead and taught me the market system, and how each state is layed out by market. I learned that San Antonio is ranked #35, which is higher than Austin, #47. Christina also showed me her reels from both her previous job in Waco and her current one with FOX 29. While watching, she stressed the importance of showcasing various pieces (both hard and soft news) and the creativity of stand-ups. I gained a better understanding about reels; you want to show producers what you can do.
Christina, Paul, and I headed out to the Archdiocese of San Antonio, talking to Pat Rodgers and his approval of SB 5. Afterward, we drove to a Planned Parenthood clinic and spoke to Mara Posada, a spokesperson for that clinic. She called the bill "unfortunate" because lawmakers do not trust women to make such a decision.
I watched Christina write her story when we got back to the station, followed by voice recording. After watching her record, I got the chance to narrate her script. I only did one cold read before recording, and despite fighting allergies all day, was surprised with the final result. Christina complimented me, noting that I had a natural news voice, and my enunciation of certain words flowed well. She even told me that I had the "strongest voice of any intern she's had so far"! Can you believe that? Probably the best compliment I've been given in a long time.
Always get both sides of the story. You don't want the piece to be heavily biased.
The Broadcast Market System (newsblues.com, tvjobs.com)
The Significance of the Reel: stressing your strengths as well as your flexibility as a reporter.
For a Tuesday afternoon, not a lot of people were in the newsroom. I found it a good idea to join the other interns, Mickey and Amy, in following JT Street, the features reporter. JT reporters and captures his own footage for his recurring segment on Fox News at Nine, "Street's Corner".
The four of us went to the ISTE 2013 Conference, a conference aimed at increasing educators' awareness various classroom technologies. We went and shot a Lego Education workshop, where San Antonio teacher Cerena Zamora taught other teachers the new robotics technology from Lego.
The interactive Legos were so cool to play with! And the interview went really well. At first Zamora was a bit hesitant about the interview, mainly because she was afraid she wouldn't sound well. Luckily, JT persuaded her enough for her to go on camera, assuring her that he was going to make the interview as natural and fun as possible. After a few minutes, she relaxed, and really enjoyed demonstrating the various Lego robotics kits available for purchase. Both JT and Zamora spent at least 25 minutes getting cutaway footage. From there, Mickey, Amy, and I helped disassemble the set and leave.
On the drive back, JT discussed with us the importance of notifying a source about an upcoming interview. Part of the problem he experienced with Zamora before she loosened up was the fact that no one informed her that he was coming. He also emphasized how significant it is to make sure that he/she is comfortable and doing a good job with the interview (in the case of camera shyness).
Although this story was lighter than the one's I previously covered, I gained more perspective about feature stories, material I hope to cover more of in the future.
Make sure that the person you're interviewing knows that you're interviewing them. Afterward, assure that person that the interview will only take a short time.
Compliment them on their progress if they're camera shy.
The best time to send a press release is between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Holidays are also good because reporters are eager for material to cover.
Checking in as media and wearing a badge saying so is pretty cool. (So are interactive Legos.)
Shadowing Robert Price and Justin didn't start out as shadowing Robert Price and Justin.
When I decided to accompany them on their story that day, they left before I could go looking for them. (OOPS.) Luckily, my supervisor (Assistant News Director James Keith) called and asked them to come back. They were cool with it...sort of.
After the detour, Robert, Justin, and I were heading out to do a followup piece on a woman who suffered severe injuries after getting attacked by pitbulls. After the front desk gave us an address believed to be the victim's, Robert gave me a checklist on finding your interview in these circumstances.
1. Make sure the address you have is the right one: Sometimes you're given an address, and that person you're trying to interview might not even live there (or they moved).
2. Make sure that they're home: If the address is the right one, make sure that your source is home. An absence isn't the worst thing ever, but it isn't the best thing.
3. Make sure they want to talk: Your source may be home, but might not want to talk. Encourage them (without the camera) to come and speak on-camera to tell their side of the story. If you've done this several times and they still refuse, then don't pursue it any further. You have to respect their decision.
Unfortunately the house we came across was empty. I watched as Robert went next door to ask if they knew about the woman and if she was home. He later told me to always leave a neighbor your business card with your number in case. The three of us called the station and looked for the other possible address our source lived in.
We ended up at an apartment complex about twenty minutes away from the original house. After knocking on the apartment door and neighborring apartments, no one seemed to be home. Our only hope of continuing the story came from the gentleman we called that lived in the first house, who happened to be a friend of the victim. We left him our contact info over the phone, but we were doubtful that he'd call who we needed to interview.
The animals held under Mouton's residence were treated
under the poorest circumstances.
Photo by Justin Duhn
With the story falling through, we headed back to the station to work on another one. I felt unaccomplished, until Robert informed me that we were on our way to East Bexar County to report breaking news about a dogfighting area. As we traveled there, we learned that the resident of the area, Terrence Mouton, used his property to hold over 20 dogs and two kittens captive for dogfighting purposes. When we interviewed Vincent Medley from Animal Care Services, we learned that they had to seize dogs from the same property last fall. The suspect wasn't home at the time of the raid.
Over 20 dogs and two kittens were held captive.
Photo by Justin Duhn
Robert, Justin, and I stayed on the property for about two hours. Justin pointed out how the chains the dogs were tied to, the barrels they lived in, and the murky water they drank made great visuals to the story. After observing Robert do a stand-up and interview a neighbor across the street, we went back to the station to put the package together.
I ended up staying at the station to watch the live broadcast at 9:00, and needless to say, things went pretty smoothly.
The checklist for ensuring the right address (see entry above)
When a story falls through, be prepared to take hold of another one. It could be breaking news.
ALWAYS bring water and bug spray. You never know when you'll be out in the sun for a few hours.
Today I assisted JT in finding significance in Canada Day, the day when all of the British territories united to form Canada. The news directors wanted JT to make them care about Canada Day, because they weren't too keen about it in the first place. Needless to say, we found a local bar, The Hangar, that was serving poutine, a Canadian dish consisting of french fries, gravy, and curdled cheese.
Groleau (above) adds the shredded cheese to the poutine.
According to Groleau, curdled cheese is more common.
Photo by Olivia Suarez.
When we got to the bar, we met the owner, Mark "Frenchy" Groleau, a French Canadian ex-pat who moved to San Antonio over 13 years ago for business reasons. The former Montreal native said that he had his mom help him develop the menu with Canadian dishes recently. We went into the kitchen to shoot how poutine was made, as well as their pulled pork sandwich. This B-roll would accompany the one-on-one interview with Groleau and the two-shot cutaway featuring JT.
JT Street (left) talks to Mark "Frenchy" Groleau about Canada
Day at The Hangar. Photo by Olivia Suarez
Prior to arriving at The Hangar, I assisted JT in coming up with questions to ask Groleau, such as the misconceptions of being Canadian. We also tried to add humor to the piece by "apologizing for Kanye West in exchange for Justin Bieber" (which made it on-camera). I even helped appear in a cutaway shot by eating the poutine, which also made it onto the package.
When we arrived back at the station, JT assisted in shooting my own tease for the story. Throughout the takes, JT offered suggestions to how I should shoot the tease (eating the poutine at the end, speaking in present tense, substituting "ex-pat" for "businessman"). Even though it took a few tries, I felt like I got the jist of it.
Make the news directors and more importantly, your audience, care about the story.
Try to get some behind-the-scenes footage if you can.
Always ask someone the story about their tattoos- JT was able to get more insight on Groleau off -camera simply by asking about them. This inquiry turned into a few more camera shots.
Don't drink while on the clock: Groleau offered JT a drink, but JT turned it down saying he was working.
Working with food is always fun, because you get to eat it! (And who knows, maybe you just might make your on-screen debut with it too.)
I hadn't had much experience in dealing with tragic stories, so I decided to go with reporter Grace White and photographer Donovan Garcia. We were sent to interview the family of Gilbert Barrera, a man who was killed by his grandson, Christopher Cantu, with a cable cord in his home on Artemis Street.
The memorial post (above)
stood near Barrera's house.
Photo by Olivia Suarez
We arrived at the house and found a man working outside. Grace and I went to approach the man and found that he, a tenant of the house, only spoke Spanish. Although Grace and I both have a good understanding of the language, we couldn't speak as proficiently as Donovan could. We had him conduct the interview, however our lavalier microphone gave out mid-way, resulting in us switching to a stick microphone and restarting. After the man finished, Grace told me how important it is to know Spanish, and to continue practicing speaking it, especially since Spanish is so dominant in San Antonio. While we were walking around the outside of the house, we found a neighbor who recently attended Barrera's funeral, and he kindly agreed to be interviewed on-camera.
\Grace White (middle) interviews Barrera's neighbor (left),
while Donovan Garcia (right) films. Video by Olivia Suarez
I watched as Grace spoke to the man in a manner that was compassionate. She told me later that she wanted to express her gratitude for having someone who knew the victim come on-camera. Once it concluded, we went out to find the house of Christopher Cantu.
Upon arriving at the doorstep, there was an intercom asking who we were. Grace stated who she was and why she was there, and a woman answered the door. Unsure of who we were, Grace reintroduced herself and asked to speak with the family of Christopher Cantu. The woman confirmed that she was family, but refused to talk, saying that it "wasn't a good time right now" and asking us to leave. Grace gave the woman her card in case she changed her mind, and when we walked to the car, she told me that you have to respect someone's decision to not be interviewed. She said that she's faced rejection before, but has never come across someone who was so adamant about it.
Prior to searching for Cantu's family, Grace speaks to
Barrera's friend and neighbor (far left). Photo by Olivia Suarez
Since we weren't able to speak to Barrera's family, Grace got approval from the station to make the package consist of the two interviews we managed to get. In addition to that, we were assigned another story concerning a hostage situation that took place earlier that morning, resulting in the death of the woman kidnapped. Grace, Donovan, and I drove to an apartment complex to speak to the sister of the victim, but unfortunately, she wasn't there. Grace advised me to leave a business card at the doorknob in case they came back.
Our next stop was the apartment complex where the victim's mom lived. As we drove there, Grace continued to get in contact with the sister for an interview. She finally answered and asked for us to leave her alone. As we approached the complex, we noticed a few women talking outside. Grace and I went to approach the women, one of whom was in fact the victim's mother. Grace asked if we could sit down and talk to her about her daughter without the camera (she later told me that that was her strategy to interviewing families). The mom began talking to Grace for a few minutes, until her daughter, the one we contacted earlier, opened the door to the apartment and grabbed her mom to come inside. Because of that, we were unable to get her to speak on-camera. The three of us returned to the car waiting to see if she would come out, or if anyone else would be coming. Eventually we interviewed a neighbor of hers, who later asked if her name not be revealed. (The interview was later scrapped.) Minutes after that interview, we got better sound bites from the woman's neighbor, Emily Gonzales, about the kind of person the victim was. When the interview wrapped, we expressed our thanks and left the complex.
Grace and Donovan were planning on going live that night, and since they were taking the portable Live-U unit, that meant that I could go with them. We went over a few possible locations to set-up as we drove to the station, agreeing on outside the apartment complex (across the street). I quickly watched as Grace typed up her two stories and Donovan assembled the packages.
Grace White (left) and Donovan Garcia (right) prepare for
the night's live-shot.
We arrived at the location 20 minutes prior to the show, since Grace was first block. As we were setting up, Grace asked if I wanted to do a stand-up after she finished. I said yes, and she began to tell me about being creative with it. In cases like this one, it was best to simply stand at the location she was at. Once she was done reporting her live shot, I stood in her place and began reciting the lines she gave me. I felt a bit nervous because my main focus was to remember the lines. After the first take, she told me to not be afraid about making the tone of the stand-up more conversational. She said that as a reporter, you're telling the story, and to imagine myself telling my best friend about what I had heard today. That piece of advice worked, because several takes later, I captured what she said. She told me I did a great job! How encouraging!
It's very important to know and speak Spanish. Sometimes you'll be in situations that require you to conduct interviews in Spanish and later translate. If a reporter doesn't speak or understand the language well, the photographer should have an understanding of Spanish.
Very rarely will you encounter people who are so adamant (hostile rejection) about being interviewed. If you get turned down, try to explain that the interview is an opportunity for someone to explain their side of the story. (In the case of murder stories, to honor that person.) If the person is very rude about the interview, tell them that you respect their decision and leave them your card just in case they change their mind.
After an potential source turns down an interview, hang around the same area to see if there are others you can talk to.
Stand-ups are nothing to be afraid of. Conduct one in the same manner as if you're informing your best friend or relative about the news you just heard. (mentioned in above entry.)
Watching how a live shot is assembled: you want to find an area that carries sufficient lighting. If you're taking the Live-U, check to see if the connections are clear, and find a way to hide the mic cords in the back of your outfit.
Sometimes you won't have ANY time to eat. In that case, scarve down something from the vending machine, or pack a lunch ahead of time.
Today I shadowed Christina on what may've been the most exciting topic yet: she, Donovan, and I were sent to cover about Justin Carter, a 19-year-old from New Braunfels who posted on Facebook, "I think I'ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one one them." Carter, who was been in jail since March, is on $500,000 bond. His story has been featured on national news such as CNN.
Much of the day was a rush, mainly because we were eager to get the sources we needed for the story on time. I helped Christina call the Comal County District Attorney's Office to speak to Jennifer Tharp, the county's criminal district attorney, as well as the New Braunfels Police Department. Christina also scored interviews with Carter's attorney, Don Flanary and his father, Jack Carter, who happened to be at the lawyer's office. We also found out that The Today Show was currently at the office as well.
As we drove, I helped Christina with more phone calls. We attempted to land an interview with Justin Carter himself, but the jail that he stayed failed to reach us back.
We arrived at the lawyer's office shortly afterward, and were the only ones in the lobby with the exception of a man sitting in a chair and the receptionist. We made small talk with the gentleman, and to our surprise, he identified himself as Jack Carter. Since the attorney couldn't speak to us right away, we decided to interview Carter in the lobby with the chairs (after he finished eating). That's when things got interesting.
Christina asked me to hold the stick mic- at a distance near Carter's face to the point it didn't make the camera frame- since she and Carter were conducting a sit-down interview. I stood with the mic and watched the frustration and worry on Carter's face as he spoke of his son's innocence. He acknowledged that Justin's statement might not have been the best thing to say, but that he was "just a nerdy little kid" and intended no harm whatsoever. He then recounted how Austin Police arrested Justin, kept him in jail, and then moved him to New Braunfels. Carter also added that since his son experienced bullying since his stay, and from the times he spoke to him, sounded miserable.
Donovan (first from left), Christina, and Jack Carter prepare
for an interview concerning Justin Carter.
The interview lasted for five minutes, and just as Christina said, "We're done with the interview", Carter began crying. Before this, I turned slightly, and Christina quitely directed me to put the mic back where I originally held it. Both hands in his face, he sobbed, "I just want my son back. I want my best friend back." Standing only a few inches away from him, I could see the tears streak down his face. This man, who had dealt with his son being imprisoned for months, really meant it, and it struck a chord within me.
Jack Carter then excused himself for a moment to clear his head. Christina, Donovan, and I waited for Don Flanary, who was still speaking to The Today Show in the next room. Christina told me then that sometimes, the best sound bites- the ones with raw emotion- come after the interview ends. She stressed the importance of keeping the camera rolling in those situations. Don Flanary finally entered the lobby not too much later, and we sat down with him in the same lobby (mainly because The Today Show wanted to interview Carter in the same room that they interviewed Flanary.) We rearranged the setup so the interview didn't have the same background. I held the responsibility of holding the stick mic again and listened as Flanary discussed his opinion about the bond amount. He replied that he had murder clients whose bonds are set to only $100,000. Flanary also said he took on the case that only two days before, mainly because the other lawyers that looked at the case couldn't come up with the bond amount (hence Carter's decision to contact national media). Another fact we learned was that an anonymous source in Canada saw the comment and contacted the Austin Intelligence Agency, which prompted Carter's arrest. He spoke of a court hearing on July 16, and of his efforts to lower the bond or to eliminate it completely.
We thanked Flanary for allowing us to conduct the interviews in his office, and departed. Since it was past 4:30 PM, we weren't going to make our interview with the New Braunfels Police Department on time. Christina informed me that the next best thing is to request a statement from them. As we got back to the station, we received the statement. I assisted Donovan in finding Justin Carter's Facebook profile, and to much success, we filmed clips of his profile and of hands typing on the keyboard. I watched Christina log for awhile until I had to leave. The day may've been a rush, but I very much enjoyed it.
Make sure you're dressed your absolute best while on the job. You never know if The Today Show or another national media network may be covering the same story.
Carrying makeup and some kind of perfume is really important. Don't go into an interview without smelling nice or overusing said perfume. According to Christina, I saved the day when I offered her my perfume stick in my purse.
Wait after the interview is concluded to get additional sound bites. Sometimes the best quotes (and even emotion) come at the end. Christina told me her words are "We're done with the interview" are like magic in that they can trigger tears from the subject.
In stories like these, think visuals. Don't rely on just stand-ups on the outsides of buildings.
If you can't make an interview after all, ask for a statement.
Your internship should be a fun learning experience. Be serious when you need to be, but if you find out that there's a cotton candy machine in the newsroom, go after it.
Monday is typically a slow day in the newsroom, and today didn't turn out any different. I followed Robert and Justin on an economics story about hundreds of jobs being offered in San Antonio and Schertz. Before our departure, Robert and I waited on confirmation on our interviews from Wal-Mart, West Telemarketing, and David Gwin with Schertz Economic Development. I read up on previous stories featuring Gwin and Amazon.com's fulfillment center opening with jobs in the coming months. As soon as Gwin, who had been in a meeting when we called, agreed to be interviewed, we headed out to Schertz.
The drive to Schertz wasn't very eventful (it was Monday). In fact, the incoming downpour of rain filled the occasional silence in the car (whenever Robert, Justin, and I weren't talking). When we stepped out of the car and walked inside, it started sprinkling. My biggest concern at the moment? My silver sparkly TOMS. (It's a rational worry if you ask me.)
After signing in and receiving special media passes, we met up with David Gwin and agreed to film the interview outside, mainly because filming in a typical conference room seemed dull. The weird thing about it all was that it stopped raining once we got outside. We still conducted the interview under the pavillion, but the low risk of getting equippment wet seemed conveinient. Gwin proceeded to inform us about the opening of 350 full-time jobs Amazon.com expected to offer once the facility opened. The jobs, he continued, would come with benefits, and would pay better than retail jobs. The center would also be the largest facility in all of Guadalupe County, at one-million square feet.
Robert Price (center) interviews David Gwin (left) about
job expansion in Schertz, while Justin Duhn (right) films.
Photo by Olivia Suarez
Before heading out to West Telemarketing, in Universal City, we stopped by the building for Amazon. Man, what a building! It looked like one of those a headquarters you'd find in movies (except the vanilla exterior looked average.) I watched Robert perform a tease for the night's broadcast, and then we drove to our next destination.
West Telemarketing Company (above) is looking to
hire full-time and part-time. Photo by Olivia Suarez
We found West in a small shopping center, and entered the lobby to wait for Kevin Harris, West's recruitment supervisor. The interview took place in the hallway and B-roll of the computer cubicles people could sign up was shot. Harris told us about upcoming job fair they planned on having. He also added that full-time and part-time jobs were open, especially to students who just graduated college. Before we left, we spoke to Tammy Dillon, a woman who applied to West Telemarketing four months after finishing school. She told us that after going on an unsuccessful job hunt, she heard about the hiring at West. Dillon's interview served as an example of personalizing the story.
Our next stop was the Wal-Mart hiring center, located near the new store's Culebra Rd. location. The suite appeared to be closed, mainly because it wouldn't be open to the public until later next week. We spoke to the new manager, Sandra Ponce, about the store, which is expected to hire about 200 people. She told us that potential employees can apply online and through the center. After speaking with Ponce, we checked out the store's construction site. The station wanted both B-roll footage, and for Robert and Justin to go back to that area live later that night.
Justin (left) adjusts the camera to get Walmart manager Sandra
Ponce (center) and Robert (right). Photo by Olivia Suarez
I watched Robert organize his story before I had to leave, and I inquired about his strategies when it comes to laying out stories.We collected four interviews that day, and since the standard package time is 90 seconds, I became curious to see how Robert would fit them all in the story. He told me to use less sound bites for each person in order to make the ideal package time (1 minute and 35 seconds). I also inquired about his strategy to lay out the story, and he replied that it all just depends on who agrees to be interviewed. Robert added that we were fortunate to get so many sound bites, because that doesn't usually happen. All in all, the day felt productive. (And I didn't get my TOMS wet!)
Regardless ifa story about jobs doesn't seem exciting, economic stories are very important- especially if they send a message about job openings. (Note: Make this interesting by personalizing the story.)
Rain, even in the form of drizzle, isn't fun- especially if you're wearing silver sparkly TOMS.
This job requires a lot of driving across town, which can be extremely tiring. Find some way to keep yourself awake.
Remind the people you're interviewing that they're doing a great job. Make them feel relaxed about being interviewed before recording.
The more sources and sound bites you get, the less time you have to make for each one in order to make the preferred package time of under two minutes.
Today marks the tenth day I've interned at the station, and I couldn't be any happier. The day started out with Grace, Donovan, and I doing a follow-up story to the damage a flood did to the Espada Road neighborhood. I hadn't worked on a follow-up story before, so I thought it'd be good practice. Prior to heading out to the neighborhood, Grace stressed to me the importance of the follow-up: it allows viewers to stay informed on an important issue that may be happening in their community. She printed out the script to her original story concerning the initial water damage the flood did to residents' homes, and I read it over to get a better understanding of the situation.
We went ahead and drove to Espada Rd., and boy, was it HOT. I remembered from the dogfighting story I did with Robert and Justin to always have water handy. Keeping myself hydrated was a major key to getting this story done. It was initially hard to get interviews of course, because many people weren't home- a lot of them evacuated their homes because they were no longer considered to be hospitable. In fact, Bexar County Commissioners are considering buyout as an option to homeowners, and the San Antonio River Authority plans to meet with Espada Road families to weigh out other options.
Norman Garza, Espada Rd. resident (left), talks to
Grace (right) about the house repairs he's had to make.
Photo by Olivia Suarez
One homeowner we met up with turned out to be an advocate for ensuring that Espada Road remain a neighborhood. She told us all she new about the meetings and the treatment the city is giving the residents over the issue. Unfortunately, she refused to get on camera, even with Grace's and Donovan's gentle persuasions. Grace went ahead and left her card just in case the woman changed her mind. (Just like we did during the Artemis Rd. murder story awhile back.) Although we couldn't get the woman to talk, we found that her neighbor, a man named Norman Garza, was home. He agreed to talking on camera, and we conducted the interview outside on his porch. Garza started speaking about the extensive remodeling he and his wife, both retired, had to do on their house: floors, walls, etc. He also added that he hoped the city would understand the situation better, because he doesn't want to evacuate the same house he raised his kids in. The interview continued for ten minutes, and I made sure to take a photo of Grace during her interview to send to Promotions (and to add to my portfolio of course). We kindly thanked him for his time after it ended, and went to another house in hopes of landing another interview.
Espada Road encased itself in an atmosphere very similar to its impending fate: uncertainty. As we drove, we found a man walking to his car. The man identified himself as Efraim Palacios, homeowner of the house we were driving up on Palacios talked about his evacuation of the house, and allowed Grace, Donovan, and I to conduct a walk-in interview. As we entered the house, I noticed all of the water lines and how empty each room was. He showed us his record collection-including The Beatles- and its water damage. While Grace exited the house briefly to answer a phone call, Palacios spoke of how his music was everything, and how he felt saddened on its ruined state. I felt his pain as I observed the surrounding room. Palacios also said that he and his family made the tough decision to leave their home and relocate. He said that it was no longer safe to be living in an area that could possibly flood again. And with that, we were able to capture both sides to the story: a person who wanted to stay and one who chose to leave.
Donovan (left) gets footage of Palacios (center) of talking to
Grace about the painful decision to leave Espada Rd.
Photo by Olivia Suarez
Grace asked Palacios if we could use the house for a standup and come back to the house for the live-shot at 9:00, and he agreed. Thankful for his time, we watched him leave and began our standups. Grace told me that the walk-in tour we just did is great for packages because it gives viewers a visual of the story's purpose. She also said that in those situations, it's important to remind your photographer to switch white balance through every entrance of a room, because it allows for better editing (as she would remind Donovan throughout the interview.) Before she thought about what to say for her standup in front of Palacios' doorstep, she asked me if I'd like to do a standup. I saw this as an opportunity to expand my portfolio, and jumped on it. I remembered her telling me how viewers (and news directors) love to see standups that demonstrate something, because it shows your creativity and keeps viewers engaged. We decided together that I perform my standup in front of the house where a very noticeable watermark about three to four feet above the ground. During the few takes, I walked and had my hand touch the wall, noting how high the water rose during the Memorial Day flood. Both Grace and Donovan told me I did a great job, and reminded me to speak as if I had to tell a good friend a piece of news I heard.
Holding the "magic mic".
Photo by Olivia Suarez
Afterward, I watched Grace quickly re-apply foundation and perform her standup at the door. Within two takes, she mastered it. I could only hope that I get that good when I start my first reporting position. We left Espada Road and went downtown to speak to the county PIO to get the city's thoughts about the city. I didn't get to hear the interview, unfortunately, because we briefly parked in an area cars could get towed. As the intern, I was assigned to sit in the passenger seat and inform others that we'd be leaving the parking spot (if necessary). In the meantime, Grace asked for me to download Vine on her phone, once I told her about it and how the popular social networking app contributes to journalism.
Grace (center) and Donovan (right) interview the Bexar County
PIO about Espada Rd. Photo by Olivia Suarez
Once we returned to the station, I assisted Grace with logging the sound bites from today. As I listened to Norman Garza speak for ten minutes, I asked Grace about her strategies for detecting good sound bites. Sh told me that in situations where the interview drags on past ten minutes (and just in general), she looks for three things: 1.) What happened, 2.) Perspective, and 3.) What's next. She added that with those tips, a red flag in her head pops up when she hears a good quote. I started to get a feel for what she talked about as we continued on with the other interviews.
Preparing for a live-shot.
Video by Olivia Suarez
Time passed as I watched Grace write her script for her package as well as AP style for the website. At 8:00 we left the station once more and drove to Palacios' house for the live shot. Since we were taking the Live-U instead of a live truck, we faced a brief situation with lighting. Darkness surrounded all of Espada Rd., but we found additional and sufficient lighting with the high-beams of the car. I also assisted with holding the cords to the Live-U as Donovan placed the cameras at angles where Grace could showcase the same watermark I performed my standup with. It turned out that we were in the first block of the newscast, so after Grace did her part, we headed back to KABB. Grace and I talked over the day's events with a sense of accomplishment.
Follow-up stories are really important because updates provide viewers with additional (and recent) information about an event.
ALWAYS carry makeup on you. Days where the weather is extremely hot call for -re-application of foundation (to avoid looking sweaty).
Walk-in interviews are always great because they showcase powerful visuals. (as mentioned above)
Always make sure your photographer knows to white balance as you enter each room of a house. (as mentioned above)
Visuals also provide great platforms for standups. News directors love seeing reporters showcase something during their packages.
Whataburger is a godsend. Thank you, Donovan, for bringing me food when we didn't have time for a dinner break.
The three points for finding a good sound bite (as mentioned above).
Sometimes, you have to work with what you have. In this case, car high-beams serve as great lighting for live broadcasts.
Oh goodness, I can't even describe how today panned out. I guess I should elaborate more on just how memorable "Day Eleven" was.
The news meeting took place as usual: Jim Wiley announcing the daily assignments, and reporters pitching their story ideas. The running gag since I've been interning at the station is that I am the "inside scoop" for news on South San ISD, since my dad, Ed Suarez, is their PIO. South San, one of the smaller school districts in the city, normally gets bad publicity because of its board, but today the news surrounding South San High School's demolition and remodeling came up. My dad had already informed me about the district working around the construction schedule due to the purple martin birds inhabiting the area. According to him, the birds' migratory patterns are that to where they come to the exact same location every year. Since the purple martins stayed within the courtyard of the high school, they had yet to leave their birdhouse the science teachers and other environmentalists placed there, forcing the district to comply to the martins' migratory patterns.
Anyway, everyone in the station had been joking about the day I finally go with a reporter to South San so I can talk to my dad, and I went along with it as usual. My supervisor, James Keith, told me that I could follow any reporter I wanted to, and I acknowledged that. Robert decided that he wanted to take that story, and I assumed that he left early as he usually does (note the first day I shadowed him). Therefore, I went to Erin, who planned on covering the Cibolo-Walmart issue, and she agreed. That's when things got really hysterical.
Unbeknownst to me, Robert had already called my dad and told him that I'd be tagging along with him on the purple martin story. He walked across the newsroom and saw me sit near Erin's cubicle. The conversation between him, Erin, and I went something like this:
Robert:"What are you doing? I thought you were coming with me to see your dad!"
Erin:"She doesn't want to go with you Robert. She doesn't have to go with you if she doesn't want to."
Me:"It's not that I don't want to see my dad, it's just that I'll see him at dinner later tonight."
Robert:"But I already called your dad and told him you were coming. I said, 'I'm bringing a certain intern of ours, you probably know her" and he said, 'I'm familiar with her work'."
Erin: "She wants to go with me though."
Robert: "You don't want to see your dad?"
Me: "Y'all keep going...I'm enjoying this playful argument....I better go with him, Erin."
This conversation, loud and hilarious, caught the attention of the whole newsroom, and soon the others were joking that Robert was complaining like a jaded boyfriend. I couldn't stop laughing at how accurate that was, by the way. Justin ended up being our photographer, and he and Robert joked about how they should leave me at the station again. (That comment wasn't nearly as funny to me.) After a few more playful arguments, the three of us were off to see my dad.
Now, I've covered stories in burning temperatures, but today I made the stupid mistake of wearing my brown gladiator sandals to the assignment, especially when the temperature read 100 degrees.
Robert, Justin, and I decided to meet my dad at the high school construction site for the interview. We got a little lost on the way there (in terms of finding the right parking lot), and that's when being related to the PIO came in handy. I quickly gave my dad a phone call and clarified the meeting spot. Shortly afterward I saw him and gave him a quick hug. All of us seemed to be smiling about the whole situation.
My dad directed us to the portables where the construction workers laid out blueprints and other storage. There we met the director of the construction project, as well as a worker. All three of them directed us to the birdhouse, which stood in the middle of a grassy (and I mean tall and grassy) courtyard. Wearing our borrowed white construction hats, we walked to get good shots of the birdhouse (and the big crane behind the school) and watched in awe as the purple martins (related to the swallow, by the way) fly in and out of the area.
While shooting video, Justin asked me to bring the lavelier mics that were in the backpack he normally carries...which were in the car. Assuming all tasks such as this one, I trekked through the grasses (okay, I endured a slightly painful walk) to the car.I continued to carry the backpack throughout the rest of the story in case Robert or Justin needed anything else.
I made sure to take pictures of the area, and watched as Robert asked the construction worker about the progress of the construction. He noted how everything worked smoothly so far, and that the rest of the construction should pan out according to plan. His interview was then followed by my dad, who spoke of the school becoming acquainted with the purple martins and their seasonal home. He also mentioned that the school plans to move the birdhouse in an area near the high school, noting that their "cousins" should be able to find the house during their return. I found it funny and ironic that my dad, a former reporter for KABB, did an on-camera. Then again, his experience with the media provided him with great sound bites.
My dad later directed us to another location near the high school where Robert could conduct his live-shot at 9:00. He, Justin, and Robert went out to get a few more shots its construction while I waited in the car with the air conditioning. It didn't take long, because they quickly returned and I watched my dad drive away, not seeing him until like I said, dinner.
The rest of the evening consisted of researching the purple martin birds, watching Robert log and write his script, and then voice. As I stood in the booth and observed his audio, I asked him about his strategies for voicing. He told me to voice one VO at a time, that way if another take is necessary, it's easy. He also said to pronounce words in a manner that they would flow. As he exited the booth, Michael Valdes, the nightside anchor who's known me since I was a mere toddler, joked that I shouldn't take voicing advice from Robert. he said that when he goes into the audio booth, he likes to do a dry-run of his script, and read a steady pace. Michael also added to read through the whole script while recording to ensure better audio. I thanked both of them for their differing strategies, and reminded myself to remember that.
If Robert requests you to shadow him for the day, GO. You just might see/interview your dad.
Beauty is pain: make sure you wear the right shoes for an assignment. Gladiator sandals and tall, itchy, grasses don't mix.
Fresh off the Zimmerman trial verdict that weekend, the newsroom was swarmed with reaction-type stories on Monday. I asked Christina if I could go with her on her story. Unfortunately she told me that she had already finished one of her pieces about a church group's reaction concerning the verdict. She apologized for her lack of interesting stories for the day, and said that since she already finished one package, she planned on staying in the newsroom. The only reason why we'd leave the station was if she managed to get an interview with Vincent DiMaio, former chief medical examiner of San Antonio who testified and was cross-examined at the Zimmerman trial.
In the meantime, the other interns showed me how to write a quick, 24-second VO for the newcast's "Trending Now" segment, which covers popular national news. According to them, sometimes their VOs are used for the show if the script is good enough. Since the didn't know much about Cory Monteith's unexpected death, I decided to use what I knew about him and the details I'd heard over the weekend to my advantage. I wrote about how Vancouver police found Monteith's deceased body alone in his hotel room but wouldn't say what exactly was in the room. After the script, they showed me how to pull video from CNN, a link that the station pays the network to use their video. After it was all pulled together, I felt accomplished that I'd gotten so much done, and hoped it'd be featured for the show later that night.
Christina informed me that Vincent DiMaio agreed to meet up with us today, and soon Nefty Gonzales, the chief photographer for the station, she, and I left to the Dominion Country Club. We introduced ourselves to DiMaio and right away, he began to talk to us about how the cross-examination went. We found a spot to conduct the interview outside, and Christina had DiMaio repeat some of the things he said concerning his role. Basically, DiMaio was called out to trial to examine the medical evidence of both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman because of his expertise on gunshot wounds. He began to get particular about the bullet hole on Martin's chest corresponding to Zimmerman's defense of Martin being on top of him. DiMaio also mentioned the specificity of Zimmerman's broken nose, and concluded that the evidence corresponded with Zimmerman's recount. He told us that he was not surprised about the verdict because of this, and that his testimony and cross-examination lasted for three hours.
The interview itself cut short because it had started to rain, which prompted Christina to ask Nefty for the time code. She felt that she had gotten what she needed, and we continued to walk and converse with DiMaio, thanking him for his time. DiMaio, who served as the chief medical examiner for about 25 years, told us that when he worked he took part in as many as 30 trials. Now that he's retired, he gets called in an average of 3 trials per year. As he said this, Christina searched for a pen and paper to write the information down. She asked me if I carried such materials, which I did, and thanked me for "being a better prepared journalist than she was".
As we drove back to the station, Christina and I talked about long interviews. Since I gathered an idea on how to select great sound bites from Grace, I felt curious to see how Christina handled such situations. She said that she only selects the sound bites she needs during the interview based on a red flag that pops in her head. I agreed with what she said and told her that I'd been training myself to make those same calls.
The rest of the day consisted of helping Christina log both her church package and the DiMaio interview (which would be made for a VO). During one of the video clips for the church story, a pastor spoke a great sound bite, but the video camera dramatically shifted to another area as he spoke. I suggested that she use the audio and have Nefty cut to the students listening to him speak. She got really excited when I said that, saying that I had a knack for video direction.
I'd heard that my Cory Monteith script got approved for the night's show and felt incredibly thrilled. However, one of the producers didn't like it, and he completely erased everything before I got to save it. Bummed as I felt when I heard and saw him do this, I figured producers know what's best for their broadcast.
Writing the "Trending Now" scripts and pulling video from CNN news-source. (as mentioned above.)
Detecting sound bites from long interviews (as mentioned above)
It's very important to carry a pad and pen, even if you're conducting a TV interview.
Producers suggest and nix certain things because of time constraints or other reasons. Don't get upset if what you write doesn't make the broadcast.
Always carry heavy objects, such as a watermelon, for your reporter, especially when she's expecting. (You know, intern duties.)
Day Thirteen (July 16, 1:30-11:00 PM)
At the station I decided to follow Erin since I hadn't done so in weeks (and because she's a fun reporter to go with). Our initial story covered a woman whose two young sons were considered missing by Child Protective Services. We were called to go to the woman's house and ask about the situation, much to Erin's reluctance. In case things didn't go as planned, Erin also worked on covering a robbery story at Braun Station on the north side of town. Alex, a former production assistant-turned- photographer, came with us and drove to the woman's house.
It was another day of moderate rain, and as soon as we located the house the producers gave us, Erin and I carefully walked to the doorstep. A woman answered the door and identified herself as the grandmother of the missing boys. She didn't want to appear on camera, much to Erin's cautious persistence, but said that the children were with their mother and that they fled to an unknown location. Her stance on the issue was that this story felt blown out of proportion because CPS wanted to take the children away from her. Although the story fell though, we thanked her for her time.
Erin decided to call the father of the robbery victims, Jesse Perales. Perales wanted us to meet him near the neighborhood where the robbery took place at 3:00. Alex, Erin, and I were able to squeeze a brief lunch before heading out to the neighborhood.
We parked our car and introduced ourselves to Jesse Perales, his 16-year-old son Jesse Perales, Jr. (known as "JJ") and his younger son (who did not want to be identified in the story). Perales began to recount the story about his sons walking home from the community basketball court and were attacked by three males. JJ and the younger son demonstrated how they were pinned down to the ground. JJ also told Erin how how his brother's phone was stolen and how he lent his while he ran after the three suspects. Jesse also added how phones had been stolen in the past at the same basketball court and wanted something to be done about it. I made sure to take note of that for the actual on-camera interview.
Alex and Erin asked the boys to do a few more visual shots such as holding the phone, walking on the sidewalk for additional B-roll. As Alex filmed, Erin told me that it's important to assist a new photographer on the shots needed for a package.
Both Jesse and JJ recounted their stories on-camera. JJ talked about how he recognized one of the suspects from middle school, and used his middle school yearbook to identify him after the suspects had him at gunpoint. The police were able to find the man and arrest him, while the others have yet to be caught. When he spoke about using the yearbook, a red flag popped up in my mind that THAT was the main focus of the story. As Erin spoke to Jesse, she forgot to mention his off-camera quote concerning the community court's need for lights and increased security. She started to wrap-up when I went in and inquired about his thoughts about what needed to be done next. He reiterated his previous statement and then the interview concluded. When we walked to the are where the suspects were believed to be hiding- an enclosing fence behind people's homes, Erin told me that it was really good I came in and asked him about the increased security because it could help her story.
I recalled what Grace had told me about demonstrating a visual during a standup, and asked Erin if I could perform right after her. With her approval, I nailed the standup within a few takes. I felt really excited about my increased confidence in front of the camera.
Jesse, JJ, and the younger son then led us to the basketball court the kids played in prior to the attack. Alex asked both sons if they could play basketball for additonal B-roll, and in the meantime, Jesse spoke with Erin and I about his concern for his sons' safety. When JJ came back, we got shots of him flipping the yearbook with his dad, and then headed back to KABB.
Erin and I started logging, and as she wrote her script, I began to compile all of the things I'd done at the station since I started. I decided I wanted to stay at the station for the newscast, but with a few hours to spare, I got a few things together for my portfolio. The show ended up starting later than usual because of the MLB All-Star Game, but when it finished, I went into the studio and watched.
Always be prepared for a backup story just in case the one assigned falls through.
If your photographer is new, make sure to direct him a bit on the shots you want for your package. (As mentioned above.)
Internships are crucial: as Erin, Alex, and I ate, Erin stressed the importance of attaining as many internships as possible for better preparedness of the workplace. She told me that after she interned at FOX 29, she interned in Washington D.C. for a journalism program. She encouraged me to go after what I want to pursue in the form of internships, because they help determine if the path is right for you.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Erin told me it was okay that I asked Perales about the previous robberies and need for increased security because it brought more to the story. Sometimes reporters forget things, and interns can help.
Funny how I found out about the royal baby's birth while in the newsroom. Grace, who I decided to follow today, seemed to be one of the few reporters extremely intrigued about the royal baby's birth. She even volunteered to go to London to cover the birth during the pitch meeting (jokingly, of course). As we came back to her cubicle, she said that although her request sounded silly, she said that that method of volunteering to go out-of-town for an assignment usually works. She said that if you want to go somewhere, to make a request to the news directors, and provide a budget request form covering travel expenses, food, hotels, etc. Grace mentioned that once the request gets approved, then the trip is usually a go. So far Grace has covered in-state stories, and even covered the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina because Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote speech. She said that she did her work for FOX 29 and also did standups and live-shots for stations across the country. How cool is that?!
Our story for the day focused on a followup to the renovations at Jefferson High School, the oldest high school in San Antonio, had been experiencing. Due to all of the construction, San Antonio ISD decided to use a lot from the church across the street-- one they purchased awhile back-- to hold portables for classrooms. This would allow for an increase in concerns: more crossing guards, safety, passing periods and most importantly, the increase in taxes.
Grace, Donovan, and I drove to Jefferson High School to get some exterior shots while we waited for our interview with SAISD spokesperson Leslie Price. In order to get the neighborhood reaction, we went to a local pizzeria actively involved in the community. Unfortunately they were closed, which led us to resort to talking to people living in the neighborhood. An older couple we talked to said that they were taking care of their son's house while he traveled, and didn't know much about the issue with Jefferson. Luckily, Ted Guerra, advocate for the Jefferson Neighborhood Association, could talk on-camera. We agreed to meet with him as soon as we finished talking to Leslie Price.
The three of us arrived at the SAISD office and spoke with Price. As we waited for her in a conference room, Grace said that bookshelves serve as great backgrounds for interviews, just because they provide that extra dimension. Donovan also had to do some special filtering because the florescent lighting's circular patterns. When Grace spoke with Price, I noticed she scribbled some notes on particular potential sound bites. She later explained that when she gets the "red flag", she writes down the first few words of the bite.
Price spoke about how the district already purchased the lot by the church so the football and soccer teams didn't have to share the same field for practice. She continued about how the portables were only temporary and that they were expected to stay there for only two years.
The interview wrapped up nicely, and we drove back to Jefferson to do a tease. In the meantime, Grace and Donovan talked about reporters who didn't take care of themselves, whether being sick and not saying anything or dealing with lightning. Grace told me that whenever a reporter is out on a story (particularly a live-shot) and lightning appears, that it's considered a "crew call". That means that it's up to the reporter and photographer to decide whether to go through with the shot. It's their responsibility to contact the station and inform them about the weather because lightning could strike the live truck and possibly be fatal. Then Donovan and Grace talked about the importance of taking care of yourself. In this industry, you will be forced to work through the most strenuous of situations, and the most crucial aspect is your health.
We parked at near the Jefferson High School marquee, and I watched Grace perform her tease. She asked me if I wanted to do one after her, and I immediately took on the opportunity. During the shot, Dovovan would focus on the marquee and then cut to me talking about the effect the renovations had on taxpayers. He told me that after I finished each tease, to look into the camera for 3-5 seconds to help the photographer in terms of editing. I sometimes forgot to do that during takes. Grace told me that my movement was good, but when I stopped walking to finish the end of the tease, to place my hands together in front of my lap in a circular shape. She said that standing still does not serve well for these particular shots. Within the next two takes, I got it, and both Grace and Donovan praised me. Donovan noted my increase in confidence with every standup we got to film together, and Grace said I had a natural broadcasting voice. Wow!
Five minutes later, we drove across the street to the church parking lot to meet up with Ted Guerra. He discussed the neighborhood's dissatisfaction with the portables, and how they plan to "hold [the district] to the fire" when it came to having the portables for only two years. A walk-in interview later followed, and I recalled Grace telling me about how great those shots are.
Overall, today went by pretty well. We found out about the birth of the royal baby, I shot a well-executed tease, and we put together a really good story.
The method for requesting an out-of-town assignment (as mentioned above).
Make sure to take care of yourself. You are your most important tool.
Lightning is considered a "crew call" (as mentioned above).
When performing a tease or standup, make sure your hands are placed correctly. Also, look at the camera for an additional 3-5 seconds after finishing so the photographer can cut the video better.
The Food and Drug Administration sent out warnings to at least 15 companies providing false claims to natural or over-the-counter medications for diabetes patients. Many of the claims mention being a better treatment than insulin, naturally lowering a patient's blood sugar, things that natural supplements aren't proven to cure. When I heard about this story, I immediately jumped on it.
The beginning of the day started off really slow. Erin and I tried calling a doctor from the Texas Diabetes Institute for a professional opinion about the drugs, but couldn't get through. The people at the institute took forever trying to reach and doctor, and as we waited, we called other medical facilities that could possibly speak. We also read through the list of the 15 companies that issued the false claims, and looked up possible places where the supplements might be sold. We considered both HEB and Whole Foods, and knowing that my aunt worked as the Floor Manager for one of the stores, I called and asked.
Unfortunately, the only things HEB had for diabetes patients were granola bars and FDA-approved supplements. I figured they wouldn't carry items with such false advertising, but it was worth a shot. Erin found "sketchy" websites where the drugs were sold, such as cheapmeds.com. She and I figured that the webpages would serve as a good standup.
After what felt like forever, we landed an interview with Dr. Ralph DeFronzo, director of the Texas Diabetes Institute and diabetes researcher for the UT Health Science Center. When we got the confirmation, Erin and I felt relieved; we were starting to look at other stories just in case this one fell apart.
JT, Erin, and I drove to the center to meet with Will Sansom, executive director of media communications, who would lead us to Dr. DeFronzo. As we pulled up, JT realized he forgot to pack the extra battery to the camera, forcing him to drop us off and make a quick trip back to the station. Once we introduced ourselves to Sansom, he led us through the center to Dr. DeFronzo's office. Erin and I waited in the lobby and discussed my plans for the future while we waited for JT to come back (it didn't take too long since the UT Health Science Center is so close to KABB).
Upon JT's return, we met up with Dr. DeFronzo in one of his research labs. He talked about how people who rely on these medications may experience long-term health complications. Another thing he mentioned was that some of the supplements already contain FDA-approved medicine in them, which could lead to an overdose if a patient takes them with their prescribed medications. DeFronzo said that he's had patients who come to him and ask about the supplements, and said he didn't mind that at all since they'd be wanting to discuss them with him. He told Erin that patients should be coming to their doctors to talk about the drugs before they start taking them.
The interview went really well because Dr. DeFronzo carried so much charisma and passion about his job. He willingly allowed Erin and JT to get shots of him working in the lab, and couldn't wait to see the story later that night. He also allowed Erin to perform a tease using some of the equipment (because you know, visuals). When Erin finished, we thanked both Dr. DeFronzo and Will Sansom for their time.
After two failed attempts to find a vitamin store that would possibly carry one of the 15 medications, we returned to the station because we were pressed for time. Since I wanted to stay at the station late to watch the broadcast, I told Erin that I could log the first half of DeFronzo's interview while she did the second half and wrote her script.
JT got the package edited just in time for deadline, and as I watched the broadcast in the newsroom, I continued to compile my portfolio and write until it was time to leave.
Always carry backup batteries.
Sometimes when you feel as though a story has reached its end, good news can come up.
Having connections is always really nice.
When you have a health story, try to personalize it by talking to a patient. Health stories start with this layout: patient, patient, doctor, doctor, patient, patient.
I love the surprises this job brings. Today I asked two reporters if I could follow them, but they were taking a live-truck. I found Ted Garcia, a daytime reporter, work nightside for today, and asked if I could join him. the funny thing about Ted is that my dad knew him from their days of working in Corpus Christi. As soon as I introduced myself to him, he smiled and said, "Ah, I know you." Another good thing about our assignment was that Justin would be our photographer. Oh, the joy!
Today's story focused on the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) increasing rates for its customers to help pay for the $2.6 million in fines the federal government issued them for sewage spills. Ted also wanted to look into the $72,000 increase the CEO would be receiving, and if that was also included in customers' bills.
Ted, Justin, and I had an interview with the Chief Operating Officer of SAWs, Steve Clouse, at 3:00 p.m. Since we got the interview so quickly, we drove to Starbucks and purchased drinks to go (which was really nice). During the drive, both Ted and Justin messed with me about how the royal baby didn't matter to them (we found out that his name is Prince George Alexander Louis). I laughed the entire drive.
During our interview with Clouse, he admitted to the increase of rates for customers, and didn't outright admit that the CEO's raise also served as a factor, but didn't deny it. Brief as it was, we got SAWS's views about the issue, and the station asked us to get a few MOS-es ("Man on the Streets").
Ted, Justin, and I parked at a Gold's Gym and attempted to get a few opinions about the people affected with increased rates. I asked Ted how he usually got people to agree to the interviews, and he told me to use this strategy:
1.) Ask if you can ask them a question for the news.
2.) When they ask what it is, tell them that you'll tell them as soon as you're on camera.
3.) Get their name and ask for their opinion.
Ironically a lot of the people we interviewed just moved to San Antonio, so they weren't familiar with the water bills in the area. We were able to get an interview with a man who said that the rates weren't fair, but that the increase should prompt customers to use less water. A red flag came up when I heard him say that, and I knew that we got what we needed.
I told Ted that I would log the MOS-es while he logged Clouse's sound bites. The job didn't take long, and for the rest of the night I worked on my portfolio and watched the night's broadcast.
Starbucks runs are always fun!
Flushable wipes aren't exactly "flushable". The PIO of SAWs and Clouse talked about how the wipes ball up and create wads of rope that make it difficult for employers to take out of the systems. This news prompted Ted to maybe come back for a followup feature on that.
For a Saturday afternoon, the newsroom seemed very empty. I came today for the purpose of working on my portfolio, which included transferring files, logging and writing scripts. Not many reporters were in the newsroom, but I had Grace assist me with writing on iNews. There's not much to say on what happened today other than I got work done, but it was very fun and productive to say the least. :)
Day Eighteen (July 29, 1:30-10:00 PM)
Grace, Donovan, and I teamed up today to work on a story concerning one of FOX 29's former interns. Julieanne Lopez, and her boyfriend, Todd Wallerstein, and left their 8-year-old yorkie, JJ, in the car for five minutes at the Quarry Starbucks before he was stolen. A MacBook and iPad were also taken, but the couple just wanted their dog, described as a "child...like a family member", back. They hired Dan Phillips, a private investigator who helped a woman find her yorkies last year, to work on the case. In addition to that, they posted flyers, made a Facebook page, and are offering a $10,000 reward for JJ's return.
I knew when I heard about the story that I wanted to do a standup with the car. Grace told me in the past that cars served as excellent platforms for creativity. She and I both wanted to use the car, which Lopez and Wallerstein said they'd bring for the interview. They were meeting with Phillips beforehand, and Phillips agreed to an on-camera interview as well.
When arrived at the Quarry Starbucks, Donovan shot video of the location (very carefully though since it was in a mall parking lot). For the interviews we relocated to a nearby parking lot since Starbucks most likely wouldn't agree to having the location filmed.
Lopez spoke about how JJ meant so much to her over the years, and that the $10,000 reward was on a "no questions asked" basis. She said that they filed a report for the missing electronics, but JJ meant so much more. Wallerstein then showed his vehicle as well as a feature on his keys that turns on the air conditioning for a five-minute period. He told us that he found the break-in unusual because the car has tinted windows, which led them to theories about how JJ went missing: either the lock was jimmied, or JJ got excited and unlocked the door.
After the interviews with Lopez and Wallerstein, Phillips talked to Grace about how his love for (and history with) yorkies influenced him to take on the case. He said he'd do everything he can to find the dog. In the meantime, Grace and I shot our car standups in five takes: 1.) Walking from behind the car 2.) Opening the door, 3.) Sitting in the driver's seat facing the passenger's side, 4.) Looking in the rearview mirror, 5.) Looking into the sideview mirror.
Since all of this was done outside, I tried to make sure that I didn't appear sweaty, and ultimately regretted not carrying backup foundation. The three of us kept cool by getting an appetizer at the nearby restaurant. As we sat in the air conditioning, Grace told me that Julianne spoke to her about being unable to find a job. She added that she wished she did more standups during her time with FOX 29 as she saw my performance of the car standup, and considered going to graduate school to get another internship. Grace told me that standups are crucial, and that going to graduate school for the purpose of another internship is pointless. I already knew that getting a master's degree isn't necessary in the field unless it's for teaching purposes, but I felt assured about it when Grace told me herself. She said that news directors look for experience. She also mentioned that when I got out of college, to go by the "100 resume tapes" she went by at my age. Basically, you send out as many as 100 resume tapes, and it only takes one to land a job. Persistence is key.
We got back to the station and quickly logged the interviews and compiled the script. I watched Grace voice in the audio booth and get ready to leave for her live-shot. I decided to stay at the station to work on my portfolio, but I made sure to watch Grace rock her live-shot at the Quarry.
Internships are everything. Make the most of them.
A master's degree is unnecessary...UNLESS you want to teach journalism.
I hadn't gotten much practice with judiciary-based stories, but today I got what I needed. Christina's story for the day centered on HGN (hypogaze nystagmus) testing used for DWI cases. The San Antonio Express News reported on Judge Carlo Key's stance on testing, and according to them, he does not like it being used as evidence in his courtroom.
Christina gave me my first assignment for the day: finding contact information for all of the sources in the article to contact. With the help of connections, we were able to schedule an interview with Judge Key for later during the day, as well as a a defense attorney.
When Alex, Christina, and I arrived at the district attorney's office and waited for our first interview with the attorney. As we got to the conference room, Christina asked me to contact other judges in the building just in case we needed another judge's opinion on HGN testing. The defense attorney came in and I quickly stepped out so I could contact a few other judges. Unfortunately one was absent and another was on the bench, and when I informed Christina, she told me not to worry about it because we needed the interview with Judge Key more.
I know it sounds weird, but when I walked into the small courtroom, I got really excited. I had never been in one before, and I'd seen so many courtroom scenes on TV that I never knew what the setting looked like. Anyway, we met with Judge Key, who told us we could conduct the interview in his office.
The main focus of the interview was to clarify the misconception the Express-News wrote about Key: his stance on HGN testing as evidence. Key told us that he allows the evidence to be used in the courtroom, but "intoxication" cannot be assumed if a person fails the test. He said that the information the test provides is precise, but not as much as the mandatory breathalyzer and blood test. He then began to explain the signs for intoxication, and when the interview wrapped, he thanked us for allowing him the opportunity to re-explain his stance. We told him we didn't mind at all, and then headed back to the station, where logging and writing took place. All in all, today was nice.
The value of the phone call. With every phone call comes more confidence in explaining why you need to speak to a source.
Sometimes people are misrepresented in the media, and that's an opportunity to
In addition to the judiciary story I did yesterday, I thought it might be handy that I follow Erin and Justin on a homicide story. A recent development in a case concerning the murders and sexual assaults of a mother and her daughter 12 years ago came up: the man accused of the crime, Juan Castanon, was found imprisoned in Mexico for a similar crime. Our assignment was to go to Kerrville and speak to the Kerr County Sheriff, W.R. "Rusty" Hierholzer and possible family members.
And away we went: Erin, Justin, and I reflected on my internship. Erin asked my what my favorite story to work on was, and I told her that I didn't really have a favorite, mainly because I've learned so much from each assignment and all of the experiences have been really fun. She then told me that once I graduate, she'd write a really good recommendation letter, which I expressed my deep gratitude for afterward.
An hour and a half later, we arrived at the Kerr County Sheriff's Office, and met up with Sheriff Hierholzer in his office. He began to explain that after working on the case for nearly 12 years, the capture of Castanon was a major breakthrough. Castanon had broken into a house that same week he committed the murder and rape of both women; the blood on the window he'd cut himself from matched the DNA sample of the man in the Mexican prison. According to Hierholzer, Kerr County Officials, the federal government, and the Mexican government are now working to getting him extradited to the United States to face trial. So far he's been charged with two counts of murder and one count of burglary. The only caveat to this process is that Mexico will not release him if he is charged with the death penalty, mainly because they don't support it in the first place. Although he would not release the addresses to the family members affected, he gave us a general direction of where they lived and confirmed two other pieces of information that the station asked for. We felt grateful for his time with us, and away to the neighborhood we went.
Before our way over there, we stopped at a convenience store to purchase snacks and take restroom breaks. The drive took an additional 30 minutes because Kerrville is a rural town. Unfortunately, the addresses the station provided us led us to a private road that we couldn't trespass, so we drove back. Erin and I walked to house whose address the station also found. The woman who answered the door turned out to be a relative, however, she said that she and the rest of the family did not want to comment. She also asked Erin if the family not be mentioned in the story as much as possible, to which Erin assured her. Erin left her business card with the woman just in case she changed her mind.
Erin and I decided to shoot our close-outs in front of the Kerr County Sheriff's Office, since we couldn't go live later that night. Erin mastered hers in about two takes, while I took a bit longer because I concentrated on spilling the information. With every take, Erin told me to take my time saying what needed to be said, that it should be conducted with conversational ease. And with the next take, I nailed it! Back to San Antonio we went, and I assisted Erin with logging and adding the supers to the package. I can know officially add a story requiring travel off my list.
Convenience stores are a godsend during a road trip. Go to the restroom when you have the chance.
Contacting county sheriffs is always a plus. They're usually willing to speak on camera, and they're the best people to ask for confirmation for.
If your standup contains a lot of information, don't be in a hurry to say it all. Be more conversational, and less robotic.
Today (August 13) marks beginning of my last week at FOX 29. I cannot express how grateful I am for this experience. I know that sounds completely cliche and what not, but it felt awesome getting a firsthand look on how things I've learned in the classroom take place in the real world. These next few days I plan on finishing my hours and adding anchoring practice to my portfolio. To everyone at FOX 29, I thank you so much, for everything. Thank you for helping me grow into a better and smarter journalist. I will definitely take back the knowledge I picked up through this real-world experience into the classroom when I return to UT in the fall. My time here has meant so much, and I have you all to thank.