Thursday, November 12, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Flying LIVE by the Seat of My Pants

Brian Boesch

“Live at Baker Center, I’m Brian Boesch.”

Then, it was over. A morning of hard work and stress ended with a successful live report from Baker Center about the building’s bomb scare. The first 'live from the field' report in years for Athens MidDay.

I have been involved with Athens MidDay for a few months now, but it was my first live report from outside the building. Going into the assignment, I didn’t expect it to be any different. In reality, I entered a new world of broadcast journalism.

Take a look at the finished product below. Fortunately, I think we hid the stress fairly well during the one-minute report. However, the final hour leading up to the newscast was a roller coaster ride.

Athens MidDay's Brian Boesch reports live from Baker Center on Tuesday's edition.

Finishing the Story
At 11 in the morning, exactly one hour before Athens MidDay’s opening music hits, I was interviewing Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers. He had most of the information I needed, so I had to write most of the story after speaking with him.

By 11:10, I was making my way across campus, heading back to the station. At this point, I was still not sure if we would be able to go live from Baker. Once I returned, I heard mixed answers.

I had my story written by 11:30, and Mary Rogus, the executive producer, decided to take a chance and have me go to Baker. There was no guarantee that the set-up would work, but the technical crew was confident. So, we decided to give it a shot.

Heading to Baker
I began editing my video for the story, but Mary said to head to Baker and get ready. Once I arrived, I helped the crew with the assembly of the camera. There were so many cords and monitors and knobs. I give all the technical crew members a great deal of credit. To get that whole set-up functioning in such a short time (about 15 minutes in the field, but a couple of hours back at the station!) was amazing.

But it wasn’t a smooth assembly. My audio levels were not registering back at the station until about five minutes before the newscast. Until that audio meter jumped around 11:55, I was very nervous. Fortunately it did, and we were about to take the air.

The five minutes leading up to my live shot were filled with re-reading my story and shooing away a few friends who saw me in front of a camera and, as a result, wanted to ask me about it.

It seemed like those five minutes only took about 20 seconds. Then, Dan Lannon, one of the members of the tech crew, said, “We’re on.”

That meant was that I was on the air live—-in one minute.

The Finished Product
I am normally pretty calm when on air, but this was different. As I’ve explained before, reporting is tough, but I am normally comfortable with the on-air work. This time, though, the conditions were much different. I could not hear what they were saying back at the studio. There were people walking all around me. I was out of my comfort level.

The next two minutes were a blur. I got through the story well, and I was happy with the performance right when I finished. However, I didn’t get a real chance to critique my work until watching the cast when I returned. Other than a bit of a long pause before my story started, it was a success in my opinion.

Mary and the rest of the Athens MidDay staff were happy, too, and the meeting after the newscast was a happy one.

The story was a great souvenir to take from this day in its own right. But I also learned the amount of work and stress that comes with every live shot in the journalistic world. Next time you watch a newscast and you see a reporter live in the field, you will understand the process. It may not seem to be stressful, but it is. It is also the most rewarding thing I have done for Athens MidDay.

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