While the definition and spirit of the MMJ (multi-media journalist) is to do everything oneself, the truth is, no one person can make a TV story, much less a TV show. It takes a team, and teamwork.
Today's story was about the renewed search for the East Area rapist, a man who is accused of raping and killing dozens of people during the 1970s and 1980s all across the state - from Sacramento to Southern California. The FBI created a new website and was pushing for media coverage in hopes someone would remember something, as we near the 40th anniversary of the first crime.
Sure, as the MMJ on the story, I drove to the scene, I shot video, I wrote the script, I edited video. But there were a lot of parts to the story that wouldn't have happened had my teammates not come through for me:
- My first task was to get video from the FBI press conference, held in Sacramento and shot by our sister station, KOVR. Because it's been a year since I was here last, I'd forgotten how to get the video from the server. A producer helped me.
- I wasn't exactly sure where some of the crimes had been committed, which mean I wasn't sure where I needed to go shoot video. An assignment editor emailed me some Google Maps.
- I needed to import some elements off the new FBI website dedicated to letting the public know the killer may still be out there. An editor helped me reformat some documents that wouldn't work with the editing software.
- The FBI posted to the website some compelling interviews with victims of the suspect, but there was no video to go with them (I assume to allow the women to remain anonymous). I needed some images to cover the audio in the story. The executive producer put in the graphics request and made sure it was completed on time.
- The audio booth where reporters record their voice tracks had been revamped since I was last here. A reporter walked me through the new system.
- Monday's audio meltdown left me gun shy about how my story would sound so I asked for an extra set of ears to review my work before it aired. A videographer stepped in and told me it sounded just fine.
- I presented my 5 p.m. story from the newsroom. A technical crew member helped me with the lighting.
- I presented my 6 p.m. story from the studio, the director showed me where to stand.
Granted, many of these examples are due to the fact I'm a sporadic MMJ at KPIX. Still, it goes to show just how many people it takes to put on a newscast and make it look good.
A little creativity with non-linear editing made for another standup that stood out from the usual. It's not all that groundbreaking, but still helps to distinguish the story.
While I was out shooting broll and the standup, I tried to talk to some neighbors about the case. Perhaps someone might remember something. I ran into the brick wall that is so common for TV reporters. No one wanted to talk. Granted, it wasn't that crucial for this story, because the elements at the press conference and from the FBI were pretty compelling. Still, it's worth remembering reporters have to have a thick skin. Being told no isn't personal. They're telling the reporter no, not you. Although, one man I approached turned to look at me, and when I asked, "May I talk to you for my story?" he just turned away and kept walking. No acknowledgement whatsoever. Not even a "no."
TV control rooms are an awesome sight. The KPIX control room has been remodeled since I was here last. Truly, it is the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Take a look at some of the photos.
The director is the choreographer. Everyone listens for his instructions to play video, to raise audio, to speak. Here's a snippet of the 6 p.m. show as it's happening live from behind the scenes.
- Don't ever forget you cannot do it alone. Be nice to your co-workers and they'll help make you look good.
- Don't take being told no personally. The reporter's job is to ask questions and some people don't want to give answers.
- Behind the scenes, putting on a newscast is like a symphony. So many parts, but when it works, the final product is seamless.