The famous coach of the New England Patriots professional football team, Bill Belichick, is known for a quote that many say is key to his and his team’s success: “Do your job.” What he means by that is don’t worry about the difficult circumstances you’re presented or what other people are doing. Focus on your job and do it the best you can no matter what. If you do your job, the team will succeed. That applied to today’s story.
Three teenagers cooked up a scheme where the female would lure unsuspecting online dates to a remote location and then two males would ambush the date, shoot him and rob him. No one died, so the victims lived to tell the police and eventually the three teenagers were caught. The difficult part about this story is we had missed the Solano County Sheriff’s press conference announcing the arrests. Still, my story, my job to do.
As I strategized on how to report this event, I relied on the three things I tell students they should include in every story:
So what (what difference does it make): in the grand scheme of things, not a whole lot, but the story still included the newsworthiness element of interest. This was a story people would tell to friends after they saw it on TV.
Real people (the people living the story): this is tougher - the only people living the story were in jail or recovering at home from gunshot wounds, and the authorities wouldn’t tell us who they were.
Show me, don’t tell me (video): this was the toughest of all - the events happened weeks ago.
As you can see, there wasn’t a whole lot to go on here. Still, my story, my job to do.
I went to the crime scene, thinking, at least I know I can shoot video there. Once I arrived, I realized, further, that this would really be the only place I could shoot video, because I wasn’t likely to get interviews with the suspects or the victims. So I did my job and made the most of it by shooting a standup that helped tell the story in a creative way. Plus, I threw in some getaway car dramatization for good measure. Check it all out the The Story, below.
I filled in the rest of the story with video from a Sacramento station that had covered the press conference and was a fellow CNN Newsource affiliate (that allows us to share).
The drive was daunting. And, truth be told, I thought to myself, “I’m driving all this way for a story that doesn’t really have a lot of video or interviews?” But, I answered myself, “Do your job.”
One other tip to offer: never, ever leave your camera on the tripod unattended. Murphy’s Law rules in TV news, and the minute you walk away, a gust of wind will materialize and knock it over. Trust me, the only way to get a news director more angry than missing deadline, is for the reporter or videographer to break a camera by leaving it unattended. Don’t ever do that. Instead, if you must walk away, take it off the tripod and put it on the ground.
“Do your job.” You signed up for this, so make it happen the best you can every day, every time.
Creative standups can help you tell a story for which you have little video. More tips on standups are here.
Don’t ever abandon the camera while it’s on the tripod.