Thursday, November 12, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: There Is No News!

Katie Boyer

Sometimes, even when covering the news is one’s job, finding a story is not always easy. This week, I ran into my first situation of not being able to track down a story. My day started off much like any other. I grabbed my camera, notepad and cell phone and I was off to work. I had story ideas filtering through my head; Christmas programs for the less fortunate, bus safety precautions with daylight savings time, and even how the university is distributing money for student health care. The ideas were not the problem, it was finding a way to put them to work.

The Runaround
So here I am, sitting in the newsroom, making phone call after phone call.

“Can I call you back?”
“Today really isn’t good for me.”
“Let me see if I can get you to someone who may be able to help.”

The responses were all sounding the same, and the callbacks were not happening. I was beginning to think that my reporting was going nowhere, but then, the silver lining. Finally, I had heard back, and a story was in progress. The school bus safety story seemed to have taken off, so my partner and I headed to a local elementary school to get some parent reaction to the idea of their children commuting during evening hours.

Another Roadblock
However, the road blocks were not yet finished. We got to the school, met with one of the teachers, and when everything seemed to be going so well, it happened. Our story was going to focus on the concerns these parents have with their children having to walk to and from the bus stop in the dark. The teacher told us that school policy only permitted a driver to drop off a student if the parent was there waiting for them. So, our story that we thought was going to have promise, fizzled out right in front of us. How could we write a story about parental reaction when there is none? Once again, another dead end.

Now We Panic?
So here we are, stuck in the middle of The Plains, with no story. So what does a good journalist do? Panic? Of course not! We stopped at a local gas station to regroup. First things first, we called back to the newsroom, surely something had to be happening somewhere in the Athens area. That’s when it happened, and the wonderful world of news fell into place.

The "Real" Silver Lining
It turned out, a breaking story about explosive equipment was happening less than ten minutes from our location. We were finding out the known details while we were on our way, and within minutes, we were at a road block where several volunteer firefighters had traffic at a standstill. Gathering information was not easy, especially with so little available, but having the story from a firsthand perspective was such an incredible advantage.

The Columbus Bomb Squad and the Chauncey Fire Department were called to Dover Township to handle about 2,000 sticks of dynamite. The old dynamite was found in an abandoned concrete building off Carr Bailey Road just outside of Chauncey. The local volunteer firefighters blocked off the road at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon, around the same time we were out hunting for our story.

Finding the News
We found out that a student at Athens High School told his principal that he found the dynamite inside the building while walking through the woods. The principal immediately contacted the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. After seeing the sticks of dynamite coming out of old, worn boxes, police called for backup to secure the scene and asked that the Columbus Bomb Squad come down to assist them.

Nineteen boxes of explosives were found in the building, each containing around 100 sticks of dynamite. The building off Carr Bailey Road is said to be an old mining area. The writing on the boxes contained the same information as the dynamite approved by U.S.Bureau of Mines. Information was released Tuesday that the building was designed to house explosives, and that over time, it was never fully cleared out.

Moral of the Story
So, a day that I thought was going to be news-less, ended up giving me a strong story with a tremendous amount of importance to locals. I guess the moral of the story is that news is somewhat like New York City, even when the days seem to be uneventful, something is always going on and the news never sleeps.

No comments: