Thursday, October 1, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Camera Apprehension

Katie Boyer

This week’s story gave me an entirely new perspective on apprehension to being on television. After working on several stories, I have seen different reactions to being asked to step in front of the camera. Talking about swine flu, everyone has something to say. Talking about recycling practices in Athens, some are passionate, some would rather not say. However, this story gave me an interesting view on why people do not like to be put in the spotlight, and in some cases, why they do.

Innocent Excitement
As I walked onto the playground at Amesville Elementary, I took a step back into my childhood, remembering the days when my worries consisted of nothing more than who I would swing with, or when the next game of tag would begin. However, my walk down memory lane was cut short as hoards of three foot tall children came running at me like I was some sort of a celebrity. Mind you, it was not me they were after, it was their five seconds of fame. Less than 60 seconds on the playground, and we were surrounded by dozens of students, jumping up and down for our attention.

"Where are you from?"
"Are you the news?"
"Can I be on TV?"
"Is that thing on?"

Let me tell you, it caught me extremely off guard. As a new journalist, it was interesting to see how children are when put in the spotlight. However, as a journalist, we have ethical rules and laws that we must abide by. The school provides a form at the beginning of the school year, one sheet among the bundle those students bring home on that first day of school. The sheet gives parents the opportunity to prevent their students from being exposed in photos or on video. Therefore, we, as journalists, must be very cautious about any video we shoot of these young students.

So here I am, standing in the middle of all these students, being very careful about where the lens is pointing. Instead of pushing the issue with students all around me, I decided it may be best to move into the building, to shoot from a safe distance.

Adult Apprehension
With plenty of video recorded, it was time for us to head out to speak with parents of children affected by the possible consolidation of the Amesville and Coolville Elementary Schools. This was when the realization hit me. We tried to speak with several parents who were in the school either picking up sick children or visiting for volunteer activities. No one wanted to be on camera. It was interesting to me that parents have a strong view regarding their children’s safety and well-being, but they aren’t willing to go on television to talk about it.

So then the question came to my mind, when is it that people change from that child who wants the spotlight, to the adult that prefers to stay behind the scenes? As a journalist, we constantly have to battle to get information, especially when people are not easily available or willing to speak on camera. When people are younger, they have nothing holding them to society’s pressures. Kids do not have to worry about what the neighbors will say because they are children, and we all know kids say the darnedest things. But as a person reaches an age that their opinions are constantly being judged and picked apart, they are more likely to decide to keep their opinions to themselves.

I think its interesting though that people are not willing to have a voice, especially when that voice might have a huge impact on people who are unsure about an issue. The experience was really interesting, and a lot of fun. Evidently, from the looks of the overwhelming on screen talent at the elementary school, Amesville has many future journalists in its student body.

Click here for more information on the story about the possible consolidation of Amesville and Coolville Elementary Schools.

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