Thursday, October 27, 2005

Missing Miracles

This would be something that you might read on my craptacular compatriot's blog over at Turdpolisher (linked at right), but I've got a feeling he'll be dealing with a much deeper issue in his next post.

At every station there are days when those "in charge" ask the impossible. Here's an example: You just drove an hour to get here and the newscast hits in 15 minutes. You are the lead story, and have been told that it will be a vo/sot. No big deal, until the show's producer tells your reporter that they want a package, and that still-green reporter acquiesces. The result is a miracle edit of a one minute story done in six minutes. For those not in the know, ideal edit time is 45-60 minutes per one minute of story. Our photogs have been meeting these kinds of demands for so long that the miraculous has become commonplace, at least in the eyes of our producers.

Recently our ranks have been thinned by the departure of our most senior photog, Russell Drewry, and a defection to the ranks of the producers by another. At least we have someone who's been in the field producing, now, so he isn't included in the catch-all 'producers.' Add to this number a person on vacation and another in the hospital, and we are four short of our normal daily total. We also have twice as many reporters as photogs, and all of them are expected to turn a story today. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Two reporters leave the station with the same photog headed to the same destination to turn separate stories on the same meeting. Both reporters have stories for all shows, with both having packages in the same show. All of this is to be edited by one photographer. Needless to say, one of the stories misses slot.

On my end everything is going great. One day before, a pilot made an emergency landing after running out of fuel. Today they are loading the plane to transport it to the airport, but there are complications. Everything seems to be straightened out when the decision is made to let the pilot use the same road that he landed on to take off. The road is blocked at both ends and the pilot taxis into position. The engine revs, the plane begins its run, and disaster strikes. The pilot clips the mirror of a parked 18 wheeler which causes him to smash his wingtip into the back of a parked rescue truck, all within my viewfinder. Everything is fine for the next four hours until, just before our 5 PM live shot, we get locked out of our live truck. After waiting for 30 minutes for someone to bring us keys, I sit down to edit our package. It will be tight, but I know I can do it. At least I could have, if the editor hadn't picked that moment to crap out.

Had I missed slot through my own fault, I would be upset, but that's on me. Nothing frustrates me more than missing because of equipment malfunction, because I have no control over that. Most days we are asked to do the impossible. We say that it can't be done but make it happen, somehow. Today, we ran out of miracles.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Yipes! Stripes!

Could it be? A sign of progress on the highways and byways of Baton Rouge? It is!

For those who don't know, Louisiana roads in general, and Baton Rouge roads in particular, are famously screwed up. While the rest of the state is getting better, a slow process at best, Baton Rouge has a much farther distance to go. This city has to recover from decades of nonexistant planning. I'll skip the surface streets, except to say that on a cross-town trip you will drive on one street that has 10 different names, depending on what block you are on.

What I'm really writing about is the interstate system. Anyone who has driven through Baton Rouge on I-10 or I-12 knows what I mean. We'll start with I-10 at the Mississippi River Bridge. Until just a couple of years ago, both lanes of eastbound traffic coming across the bridge had to merge into one lane. As if that wasn't bad enough, that one lane was an exit lane into a neighborhood, so eastbound I-10 traffic had to merge with traffic from I-110, which was coming from the north. That had been like that for years, but was just recently 're-striped.' All the traffic still has to merge into one lane, but that lane now continues, so the flow is uninterrupted.

Believe me, it makes sense if you've ever had to drive it.

As Bill Cosby once said, I told you that story to tell you this one. Since moving to Denham Springs, a rapidly growing suburb of Baton Rouge, I've noticed a few things about traffic in my area. Number one is that it's horrible, but I knew that before moving. Why it's bad is something I've pondered for the last year and a half, and I have resolved that part of it comes down to striping, again.

I don't know what the state's engineers had against eastbound traffic. Maybe they weren't getting any that month and decided that everyone should feel that same frustration. In any case I-12 eastbound in Baton Rouge is a very nice stretch of road. Plenty of lanes, with a generous shoulder on both sides. Until the last exit in the parish, O'neal Lane. It doesn't seem like reducing three lanes of traffic to two would be that much of a problem, especially at an exit, but this is Baton Rouge. Instead of having the right lane end at the exit, as it's done everywhere else, the left lane ends, merging with the middle. This has led to miles of traffic constipation.

Tonight I saw a sign of hope, and almost wrecked because I couldn't believe my eyes. Between yesterday and today the road has been restriped. The missus and I were shouting hallelujah because we had just seen a miracle. Well, not quite, but the feeling was the same. I won't know what effect this will have on traffic until I drive home from work Tuesday, but this definately shows some progress being made in a city that desperately needs it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mile High

My wife and I just got back from Denver last night, and we had a great trip. She was attending a conference, and I was along for a much needed vacation from the news business. I'm a cameraman for a local TV station, and the events of the last couple of months demanded that I get away for a bit.

I recommend visiting Denver to anyone who wants to go. I didn't know what to expect, but I found that the people were just as friendly as the people here at home. The city also seems to have a decent public transit system, though my experience was limited to the downtown Mall Ride and a trip to the end of the light-rail line after the Broncos game, but that is another blog for another time.

While my wife was spending her time in meetings, I was taking Oreo's Walking Tour. This tour started at my hotel, but the route was determined by interesting buildings along the way. When I saw one that interested me, I walked toward it. This led me from the Capitol Building all the way to Invesco Field at Mile High, which is quite a hike, but took me past all the major landmarks. In all, it was a great way to spend 4 hours, and get some much needed exercise to boot!