Friday, February 13, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Growing Up Out in the Field

By: Elizabeth Lowry

Have you ever had that one pivotal moment in your life when you finally realize that you are a grown-up? For some it's a very gradual experience, small events that eventually climax and you come to the conclusion that you are an adult, but for me the experience has been much different. Within the past week, I had a life-altering experience, a sudden instance, that will forever change my life. One significant and devastating event made me realize, that I am in fact, an adult now, grown-up and the only person who is responsible for my actions.

Over the past week, I have had some serious time to reflect on myself, what I
want out of my life, and how I plan on achieving my ultimate dreams and aspirations. As college students, we live and learn, but more importantly, as individuals throughout life, we live to learn, and learn to live. But what we need to learn most importantly is that we need to learn from our mistakes, especially in our career field.

As a journalist it is very important to be as unbiased as possible and get the straight facts out to the viewer. But in order to be unbiased we need to be able to walk into the newsroom every day and leave every other worry we have going on in the world at the door. Because once we step into the newsroom, it is a MUST to be 100% in tune with the most relevant, relatable stories, that are going to have the most impact on the viewer. So with this in mind, it is very important not to crack under pressure, because even if a mistake is made, there will be several ways to fix it. I however, did not keep that in mind when I was assigned a story for reporting this past week.

The Assignment that Didn't Get Done
Let's cut to the chase, it was an assignment, I failed to finish. No there were no technical problems. I can't blame it on the camera. I have no excuses. I just did a zillion things wrong, and since then have thought of a zillion ways I could have completed the assignment but didn't.

I was supposed to be a sports reporter for the next day, but made the mistake of not doubling checking the story location and hence, ended up at the wrong gym. I was supposed to shoot the Athens High School girls' basketball game and thought it was at Belpre, but didn't doublecheck. (mistake #1 of about 100) Once I got there with my friend who drove me, I found out that I was at the wrong place. Being all too familiar with being at the wrong place at the wrong time, I jumped back into the car in an attempt to make it to the game in Athens, 30 miles away.

The game was scheduled for 8:00p.m. however, unbeknownst to me, the game started early, right after the JV game so when I showed up at 8:20p.m. it was the fourth quarter with only 15 seconds left in the game and I still had to set up. I panicked.

Rule #1 for journalists: NEVER crack under pressure.
The buzzer went off, and the game was over. I had virtually no video, no intervews. I had NOTHING. So what did I do? The VERY last thing any journalist should do, give up! I completely fell apart, and literally made myself sick over it. Looking back, I realize that mistakes are made, but in this career field, if anyone wants to really make it, you NEVER EVER, EVER give up. And that's a lesson that I can apply every day in life. It's like that Carrie Underwood song, "So Small", that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand.

At the end of the day, all the things that most of us worry about, for the most part, are really just grains of sand, and if I had realized that at the time, I wouldn't have cracked under pressure and I would have had a story. But rather than dwelling on what I could have done, I learned from it, and I can move on, and know what to do differently for next time, and that is exactly what I'm going to do.

What I Learned
I am an adult, but will never quit growing as an individual. I, like the 7 billion other people in this world, will continue to grow until the day I die. I learned that in this field, in the journalism world, there is someone that is ALWAYS going to be willing to go farther than you are, work harder, longer and faster than you can, and most importantly will always be better at what they do. There will always be someone who is smarter, wiser, more compassionate, more charasmatic, and better-looking than
you are.

However, no matter who is better, you must give 110% EVERY single day for every second you are in that newsroom or out on a story, because if you give any less than
that, there are 50 others waiting who are willing to give 110%. You MUST leave your life at the door, and once you enter that newsroom, your focus is only on getting those stories to the viewers.

You might say that journalism is filled with a bunch of D's. Desire to do better than anyone else. Dedication of your whole self to your work. Dreams that you will achieve your fullest potential. Determination to reach within yourself, and, as I learned this week, DISCIPLINE to do your work, even under pressure and DO it under a DEADLINE.

Proving Myself
I had to go home on Wednesday for a doctor's appointment, and knew I was going to miss MidDay. But I also had a job to do--a second chance. Knowing I had to get back to Athens Wednesday night, I had no time to waste. My mom drove me back to school in the afternoon.

I had to be at the convocation centeraround 7:00p.m. and considering I failed to complete a package for Tuesday's newscast, I knew I couldn't fail again. My taxi driver (aka mother) took me to the RTV building where we grabbed batteries, then I ran to Tone's (he was wonderful and grabbed me a camera just to make sure I would have one--Thank you Tone), then I did a double check to make sure I had everything and we were off to the Convo. My mother dropped me off (yeah, I'm 22, how many kids can say their moms still drop them off at basketball games, sweet right?) and I booked it.

Fortunately, at the end of the night I had great b-roll, great soundbites, and a great stand-up. I had my script written completely the night before so I was ready to go first thing on Thursday morning. I had my package done in plenty of time, 11:25a.m., sigh. The bottom line for me was not how good anyone else thought my package actually was, but the fact that I thought it was good, and I had accomplished something, and came to the realization that I can work under pressure, that I can DEDICATE myself, that I can make DEADLINES, and that I do have the DISCIPLINE to get the job done.

I realized this past week that I am the only person who can achieve what I want to achieve, and do what I dream of doing. I am the only person who will be with me my entire life, so I need to believe in me, when no one else will. When we are doubted by others, rather than doubt ourselves along with them, we need to look at it as a challenge to prove to them that we can do it and prove to ourselves at the same time. In journalism, in a newsroom, you must work as a team, yet, there is only so much others can do for you, it's up to you do to the rest.

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