Thursday, January 29, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Wild Winter Weather

by Josh Mei

Remember the response you'd get from your parents (or somebody way older than you) when you used to complain about going to school? Maybe your dad would say "I used to walk so-many-miles in the snow for this-many-hours to get to school..."

Looks like I might be able to tell my future children the same thing.

Covering this story on the recent weather conditions gave new meaning to the phrase "Flying in any weather." I wasn't so much flying, but you get the picture. Walking, shooting, reporting, walking, more shooting, more walking, and so on. Continue this process for an hour and a half, mix in heavy snow showers and 20-degree weather, pour a cup of coffee and you've got yourself a web story, my friend.

First off, what are these “Levels?”
After hearing the weather reports that Athens was under a “Level 1/2/3” emergency, I still had no idea what that meant. Obviously, the levels go in order: a Level 1 being safer than 2 and 3, and so on. We interviewed Athens Sheriff Pat Kelly, and he gave us a little more information on the weather level alerts. Apparently you can get a citation for being out and driving during a Level 3 alert. Below, Sheriff Kelly explains Levels 2 and 3.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly explains the weather level alerts

The Story

So on Tuesday, Drew Schaar, the TV news reporter and I (web reporter) got assigned to do a story on the weather and the crazy snowstorm that hit on Monday night. We figured it wouldn't be too bad. Go out for a little bit to shoot some video, get an interview with a city official and a man-on-the-street, and then back to the news room. There. Done.

Not quite. A minor setback in the newsroom resulted in us walking down to OU Facilities Management to get an additional interview. But since we had a break between classes, it was manageable and we finished the interview in decent time.

Yeah, we're getting a story here, two as a matter of fact. We have a package and an online story. So what are we focusing on? What other aspects of the snow could we possibly manage to cover? Find out under the “Winter Weather Hits Hard” story written by yours truly.

Wait, was that something like a promo? Sweet, and here I thought I was horrible at writing those…(that was pure sarcasm, for those who weren’t sure.)

In the Field
Going out to get video and interviews wasn't bad, minus the weather part. I’ve come to the conclusion that journalists and reporters are some of the most flexible people in this world. I don’t know about myself, but in general, it seems that field reporters really know how to handle unexpected situations.

When an unexpected situation arose on Tuesday morning, we had to accommodate for it and did what we could to fix the problem. Having to re-shoot a reporter stand-up is one thing, but when you have to go back out into the cold to get entirely new interviews and video, it results in a reporter blog like this.

Reporters go through so many physical and mental challenges when getting a story. If it’s snowing, raining, sleeting, it doesn’t matter, all the better video. If fire is falling out of the sky, it’s probably unsafe for anyone to be outside. That won't stop a reporter though, because that would be one heck of a story. “Do what you gotta do” seems to be the motto to live by in news reporting. For now, I guess that’s fine by me.

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