With the hope of adding more content to komusports.blogspot.com and brianmortensen.com, I went down to the station on Friday to take care of a bunch of stuff. First, I wanted to get as much video as possible from my news reporting days to post over on brianmortensen.com. I looked for numerous news stories I reported on over the summer with the high-quality raw video, but unfortunately it had all been deleted except for whatever was on komu.com. Of course, I should have gotten those stories immediately after I reported on them, but oh well. The video from komu.com actually looks OK on Youtube – so thankfully I was able to save them. I was bummed I couldn’t save one of the live shots I did for the “Tiger Treasures Rummage Sale” – a total bogus story, little news value but I had some good video and it fit in with the day – simply one of those slow news days in the summer in Mid-Missouri.It was a fun live shot because I was able to show several high-quality rummage sale items, so it was a productive live shot at least.
Once I dug up all my old news video, I began uploading it to Youtube. Meanwhile, I harvested some sports video for komusports.blogspot.com and uploaded it to Vimeo. After I found all the video, I saw KOMU was covering 2 local high school games – Fulton @ Mexico, and Helias @ Rock Bridge. On a whim, I took a drive to Mexico, then back to Rock Bridge on the premise of taking some pictures and such for the blog. It was fun – I was able to get some decent pictures with my crappy little point-and-shoot camera and get them on the blog before the sportscast aired. I called the sports office and told them if they wanted, they could add a web snipe shoutout to the KOMU Sports blog at the end of the highlights to tell viewers they could check out the blog for some pictures from the games. You can check out the pictures here: the Rock Bridge game and the Mexico game
Then yesterday, I went down to the station to upload the highlights to Vimeo. I also added a short video extra from the Mexico game – the “Crowning of Mr. Bulldog” – a celebration of the school’s “best man”. One of the players on the basketball team won, so it was pretty cool.
The site is really coming along well and I’d love to see us add even more content!
This semester has gotten off to a fantastic start. I’m enjoying my classes and so far I’ve been able to keep up with the goals I’ve set. My 1st goal was to spend less time at KOMU, and of the time I do spend there, make it worthwhile doing what I really enjoy – sports reporting, videography, and producing. I’ve definitely been able to do this so far in the semester. I’ve shot, written, and edited about a package a week either for the Sports Show or for a nightly sportscast while usually shooting highlights or going to a media day once or twice a week. BY “less time at KOMU” I mean not working any exhausting/time consuming live truck or PA shifts that destroy my sleep schedule/health/grades. Last semester I worked about 10-12 hours a week on live truck, and while it was nice to have the extra money, I really suffered from sleep deprivation and academic frustration. So far this semester, I’ve been able to enjoy my classes a lot more because I’m not on the verge of falling asleep in all of them!
My 2nd goal was to maintain my grades and ensure I graduate! So far, I’ve definitely succeeded. I’ve done well on my first few assignments in some of my more writing-intensive classes, so I’m excited about hopefully finishing my undergraduate career on a good note.
My 3rd goal remains working at building personal connections and an online presence. I’ve begun to go back through all my business cards of people I’ve met and email addresses I’ve gathered to stay in touch with them and try to retain them for future reference. A site like Linkedin is very useful for this as it saves me the trouble of getting business cards for some people. But, I’ve found getting in touch with people on Linkedin can be tough as they often don’t check their messages on it, hence the need for personal correspondence outside of the site. I’m hoping the connections I’ve made throughout my 4 years at Mizzou will help in the job hunt as I’m not particularly worried about future geographic location. As far as an online presence goes, I need to build my own website. I purchased the server space for brianmortensen.com, so I just have to go about actually building the site and such. I’d really like to learn Adobe Flash, and I’m strongly considering a free training session on campus for it in a few weeks – just not sure if it’s worth missing a class for it! And with that, I’d love to build a really cool brianmortensen.com with tons of flash and fun stuff like that, but we’ll see.
My 4th goal is to really nail this capstone project. I’m working with Will Maetzold, Cassandra Novy, and James Steward on expanding KOMU’s online high school sports coverage. So far I’m thrilled with what we’ve done. Will and I would like to shoot a few “Opening Drive”-type shows throughout the semester and add it to the KOMU.com sports page. So far we’ve both been swamped with work outside the station to really get it off the ground, but I know we’ll have plenty of chances to get a good few shows in. We need Scott Schmidt to make graphics for us – that seems to be the main holdback – and if we accomplish that, anchoring, producing, writing, and creating the show will NOT be difficult. I can harken back to my “old” days of MuTV when I anchored “Tailgaters” and basically wrote a script the night before we shot the show with a really basic outline – some intros and outros for prompter, some local readers, then guided chat with my co-anchor and guests. I’d like to follow that same format but instead of a ≈ half hour show, we’ll keep it short – around 10-15 minutes hopefully.
The capstone also has us expanding our video coverage. I’ve begun to take all the high school highlights and stories from the sportscasts and upload them to Vimeo. I then embed them in a blog post as basically a daily post on komusports.blogspot.com. I then add tags for all the athletes and teams featured in the video. The video quality on Vimeo is about 100 times better than KOMU.com, so it’s definitely worthwhile to get them on a different site for embedding. I’ll also put the Blumberg Off the Bench packages on the blog if it involves a high school athlete. I invested the $40 or whatever it costs to get a Flikr pro account – and it’s definitely worth it because another part of our blog will be to post pictures from games we attend. If we can’t shoot a highlight, I’d really like each of us to get to one local game a week to just get some pictures, stats, and storylines to include on the blog. We’ll also have a “weekly links” type section where we find stories in local papers – such as the Fulton Sun or Columbia Missourian – and link to them. It would sound something like, “The Missourian’s Joe Smith has a preview of the Hickman-Rock Bridge boys basketball game tonight, and why fans should expect a quiet night from Ricky Kreklow,” or something like that. I think I’ve laid the foundation pretty well – we just have to get down to doing the work!
This is the 1st Friday I’ve been free since the start of the semester! I’ve shot football games just about every Friday night, and with high school football just about over, I’m pretty much free now on Friday nights. I’m gearing up for a trip to Manhattan, Kansas tomorrow for Mizzou’s game against the Kansas State Wildcats. This will be my 2nd road trip (3rd if you count the Illinois game) for Mizzou football, and I’ve shot every game except for Nevada. It’s been a blast to shoot all the Mizzou games, despite the disappointing record and tough home losses. I can honestly say I’ve shot in all weather conditions this season – from torrential rain and cold during the Nebraska game, to warm and humid during Bowling Green and Furman, and plain ol’ chilly during the Oklahoma State game. Tomorrow looks to be in the 50s and overcast, so it should be comfortable. Meanwhile, producing sports has gone well. I’ve definitely improved since I began. It’s VERY easy – much easier than I thought. I’ve even gotten to the point to where I think “Hey, this isn’t so bad, I could do this for a living” until I realize it’s still not the greatest place to be. But hey, at least I’ve gotten some experience in it and had some fun with it.
I noticed my last update came after the Nebraska game. I traveled to Oklahoma State the next weekend to shoot the game down there – also really cool but a disappointing result again. I was greatly impressed with the quality of Boone Pickens Stadium – insanely nice overall. The attention to detail is immaculate – everything from deluxe catered meals for the media to OSU engraved elevator buttons. Clearly, ol’ Boone is sinking money into his namesake’s building, and I can definitely see the results. However, I thought the crowd would be a lot louder than it was – perhaps because the stadium’s capacity is around 55,000 – but after experiencing OU in 2007 I expected the same outrageous decibel level in Stillwater. It only got really loud after Gabbert’s pick-6 and OSU’s TD towards the end of the 1st half. Their student section seemed into the game the whole time, and their odd paddles certainly made a lot of noise. But, I can definitely say Boone Pickens Stadium, while VERY nice and luxurious, is not nearly as tough to play in as I’d expected.
I’m curious to see if Bill Snyder Family Stadium is any more hostile! I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures and such of the journey. Will Maetzold and Brandon Spiegel are joining me on this trip – Maetzold hitching a ride and covering it for Palestra.net, Spiegel also with KOMU.
Check out my Youtube for some of my packages – here’s an embedded link.
Well, I’m now a sports reporter/producer at KOMU and despite it being MUCH less stressful than news, I am still at the station almost every day. I work live truck for the Monday/Wednesday morning show, and for the 5/6 on Tuesdays. It’s been a lot less stressful this semester working live truck, too. The early morning hours are tough, but it’s an easy show to work because with so many hits, it’s easy to rearrange things if we have trouble with the truck. It’s also a solid way to pick up hours, even if it does come at a time I should be sleeping. For the most part, I’ve had good reporters too, so it’s been fun.
I experienced probably the wildest story I’ve probably ever been a part of on Wednesday morning. I woke up somewhat early at 2:15am (usually wake at 2:30 to get to the station at 3am) and Matt Jeffries, the morning student producer, called me to tell me to come in “early” because of a breaking news situation in Columbia. Up off Stadium Blvd, the Columbia Police Department were staking out a couple of people holed up in an apartment. These people apparently SHOT AT A COP CAR, then peeled out in their high-performance Dodge Stratus, crashing through their apartment complex’s gate and hiding in their apartment. The suspects refused to come out of the apartment, so the cops called in some serious reinforcement – State troopers, SWAT TEAM (!!), and a few other imposing vehicles to handle the threat of these 3 whacked out dudes. So I showed up with the truck and Chance Seales was already there. He shot some video already, and I fed it back through the truck, which I thought was fun. We basically set up our shot just alongside the driveway into and out of the complex, so we could see cop cars coming in and out of the area. We had plenty of nats too, with “flashbangs” aka stun grenades going off (which we thought was gunfire because it was so loud). Chance did a great job with his hits, and I was pleased with my camera work. Eventually the cops got the dudes to come out of the apartment by blowing down its windows. This was a really awesome live shot experience all-around, so I’m glad it went so well. On a side note, KMIZ showed up half an hour after we did, and their reporter was far too chummy with Jessie Haden, CPD’s “Public Information Officer”. I would expect nothing less from them. Here’s the link to our story.
Working in sports has been awesome. I’ve shot every Mizzou football game so far (minus Nevada, since that was on the road) and I’ve done FNF every Friday night. I FINALLY broke my Gold Star duck with a win last weekend for my Boonville/Hannibal highlight. Jim Riek totally got me by surprise, and I went nuts when he said we got the Gold. I had a lot of help from the guy who went with me, Caleb Barron – he deserves a lot of credit. I’m psyched to shoot Jefferson City’s homecoming game tonight. Another great part of this game is the chance to visit Kate & Ally’s Pizza in Jeff. City - probably the best pizza you can get in Mid-Missouri! I’ve also been mildly surprised at how easy producing sports has been. Yeah, it can be a little “crazy” but I’m confident in my abilities, so I don’t stress out about getting video transferred, edited, or graphics created. Of course, Jim’s sports class is awesome too, so overall it’s been a pretty good semester so far! Hope it stays as good! Here’s the link to my Gold Star video (it’s the first one in the vid.)
Well, B3 is technically over, but not literally. I still have to do my HFR and the last “interview” paper. I’m at a bit of a loss over my HFR – no one has called me back or returned my emails, and I’m getting annoyed because time is ticking by. I want to get most of it done by the time I leave for NJ on Thursday afternoon. I left a message with a man who owns a truck running on biodiesel, and emailed Mike Kehoe, who mentioned the “Cash for Clunkers” program when I interviewed him a few weeks ago. I think tomorrow (Wednesday) I’m going to start calling other people about it since clearly these sources are not really cooperating. As for the paper, I’ve emailed 5 reporters in other markets about interviewing them, and no one has emailed me back yet. Granted, I sent 2 tonight and 3 about a week ago, but I’m out on a limb here waiting for people to get back to me. So it goes in Journalism. I’m also out on a limb financially waiting for KOMU to pay me back for all that gas money I’ve put into the Scions!!!
My apologies for not posting this after the shifts. I got caught up in packing/preparing for my trip to Hawaii. I type this sitting on layover in the majestic Phoenix airport with a view of several USAirways Airbus 319s, “downtown” Phoenix, and Chase Field – home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Anywho, I’m pumped to be getting away from Columbia for a few days. I haven’t left the state of Missouri since January, so this trip is a much-needed break from America’s Heartland. Let me explain how my trip has gone so far:
Woke up at 1:30am. Left for MCI (Kansas City) at about 2. Arrived there 4:30am. Upon parking and waiting for the shuttle bus, I encountered some of the dumbest travelers I’ve ever seen. They had been standing waiting for the shuttle bus for “half an hour” and had no idea the shuttle didn’t run between midnight and 5am unless it was called for on the little hotline phone inside the bus shelter. Then, when the bus showed up and we boarded, they proceeded to have an extremely asinine conversation in a far too-energetic manner for 4:30am. Basically, all rules of travel etiquette appeared to not exist in their minds – loud conversation, getting in people’s way, and displaying an overall cluelessness in an extremely easy airport to navigate.
The flight was uneventful until the descent into Phoenix, when I got to see the amazing topography surrounding Phoenix. I was shocked at all those little pimply mountains coming up from the ground with houses surrounding them. And, the basic notion of Phoenix being in a massive desert valley with huge mountains around it just seems bizarre having been in the Midwest for what feels like forever. I’m also weirded out by all the West Coast people in here. They call this place “America’s Friendliest Airport”…which is a little creepy but hey, whatever. As long as I arrive in Hawaii in one piece…
Anyway, Monday’s shift saw me come in with a couple of tough ideas. I had hoped to work on a story I saw in the Jefferson City News-Tribune about low water levels in Taos. But, everyone I called either knew nothing about what I was talking about, or didn’t call me back or answer their messages. With a backup story of the Jefferson City Salvation Army receiving a meat grinder from Safari Club, I figured that’d be the best way to go to make sure I had something for the day. It definitely was not an ideal story but I did the best I could to shoot enough video for a package and have enough of a human-interest angle to make it interesting. Hence, why I shot off the shoulder a lot to show New Jersey-native Gene Rurka demonstrating how the meat grinder would work, and then later to ask one of the kitchen workers how the grinder would help. Everyone I spoke with gave me some good bites, but it wasn’t overly riveting video. Once we spoke with the people we wanted, and I shot a standup, with help from KOMU’s high school intern Coleman, we went to try and get video of meat in Jefferson City. We tried the Schnucks on Missouri Blvd but the manager didn’t want us filming inside without him there – he was apparently in a meeting, and couldn’t come out of it. So we went across the street to a butcher, and he refused to allow us to bring the camera inside. He said he had a bad experience with “you news people” before and that it was “a personal principle” that he would no longer talk with reporters. He didn’t say what station it was, but he mentioned his adversity to the press formed when he was interviewed for a Mad Cow disease story and he felt misquoted about the disease or its impact on him. I was disappointed because I wanted to just get a few shots of raw meat or something that could go inside the grinder, but this butcher’s vague media horror story left me annoyed. I tried to assure him we didn’t even want to talk to him on camera, but that still didn’t assuage him. So, we left the butcher’s shop and went back to KOMU. I had a vo/sot for the 5 and a package for the 6 – thankfully the producers killed the idea of another vo/sot for the 10 as they felt “ground out” about the story.
After the newscasts, Kent made a great point about my story, saying the Salvation Army and Safari Club “owe [Brian] a lot of money for all the publicity you gave them.” I totally agree – that was definitely the downside to this reporting shift. I’m NOT a fan of staged photo-op events like the meat grinder thing. And the way the representatives of each group behaved toward the camera really indicated to me a desire for us to give them good publicity – one man sycophantically thanked us repeatedly for no reason at all – signifying a “Hey, we love photo ops and we’re going to be nice to you so you make us look good!” sort of mentality. Anyway, I’m glad I was able to make it work despite the story’s overall flaws.
I pick up writing from 25,000+ feet above the Arizona desert. It’s incredible. I’ve tried to take as many pictures as possible with my crappy point-and-shoot camera. I can’t begin to describe how cool/weird it all looks. I’ve never been through here, and we have a terrific day for sightseeing while flying – Clear skies, very few clouds, and a window seat looking south. I keep thinking as we fly over these endless mountains and valleys, “HOLY SHIT THAT’S AREA 51!” or “Goddamn, that’s where they blew up a few nukes”. I’ve also been wondering where Yucca Mountain is. Many of these mountains and such appear to have dirt roads traversing them. I keep getting images of the scene from “Grapes of Wrath” when the family is driving across the desert just trying to survive. Makes me realize how cool/advanced we are as a society to be just cruising along at 35,000 feet above the scorching desert. **Post-writing Addition – I spoke with my Mom once I landed in Hawaii, and she said the area around Phoenix is like the moon, but red – and I completely agree. It does appear similar!**
Anyway, enough of that. About my shift from Wednesday – I arrived with a couple of decent story ideas I hoped would work out. I pitched them all – Jen seemed to like them – but she told me about “this Gasconade County thing” that needed to be covered. After a very basic rundown of the story, she told me to call Nick Berardini to get the gist of it. So, I spoke with him about it, got the lowdown, and got a few names of people I should talk to about the story. Basically, these 2 county commissioners added $10,000 each to their salaries in 1999 and 2000, and got away with it. Several concerned citizens of the county found out about the extra money from a state audit in 2002 that said the extra pay was illegal. Another audit in 2006 said the same thing. So, these citizens sued in 2007 to try and recover the money. In 2008, in a Franklin County court (a Gasconade judge hearing the case in Franklin) the judge ruled the commissioners must pay back the extra money plus interest – also noting the commissioners’ clear guilt based on the evidence at trial. The commissioners appealed the ruling to the Missouri Court of Appeals (Eastern District) on the basis that Missouri’s 5-year statute of limitations outlaws the original ruling forcing them to pay back the money. The judge agreed, and overturned the first decision – meaning the commissioners were off the hook simply because, “You didn’t catch us in time” as one source told me.
It took me a while to fully grasp the details of the case, but it sounded very interesting from the getgo. As I drove out to Hermann, I called several people who told me more about the situation and who would be good to speak with on-camera. I arrived in Hermann and made my way to the Glenn Oaks Winery, home of Glenn Warnebold. Warnebold was originally on the side of the citizens, but changed his position after a period of time in which he “realized the facts of the case”, and began to support the commissioners. Nick told me not to talk to the commissioners, so I didn’t bother trying to contact them. I think in retrospect it would have been good to get their side of the story straight from them, but I was happy with how the story came out regardless. So, I enjoyed a quick tour of the winery and then hit the road. I shot a little bit of video in downtown Hermann, then went back to Columbia. One of the men I spoke with on the way to Hermann was Mike Jacquin, who has been heavily involved with the case on the side of the citizens. While he is a Gasconade County resident, he was in Columbia at Boone Hospital helping his brother with a surgery. We met outside the hospital and I just interviewed him there. I loved how my story had such polar opposite viewpoints – the “let’s play nice” view of Warnebold and the “Hell no, we won’t” of Jacquin.
When I got back to the station I had to take about half an hour to figure out how I could write the story in a way that was not too confusing or too full of legal jargon. I didn’t have much video to use, so we grabbed some of Nick’s file video from last year, which worked out well because he had footage of the commissioners. Kent was able to help me really boil down the issues to something people could understand. I went on-set for the 6 in the A block, which was fun, and then had a vo/sot for the 10.
I really enjoyed the story because it had so much controversy in it. It is just juicy-full of good stuff, and it’s still not over yet. I also thought the 2 men I spoke with, even with completely opposing viewpoints, were hilarious. They both said stuff I could not help but laugh at. I also enjoyed the legal exchanges involved in this story. Whether that’s an indication I should be a lawyer…I don’t know…But I had a good time reporting this story and I’d love to stay on it. Jacquin told me he would stay in touch with me and keep me posted on what happens.
I understand how useful it is. It really is – especially for going out to cover stuff and being able to let the station and our web site viewers or other Twitter users know what we’re covering. I like that. But I dunno if it’s just me, or what, but rarely do people talk to me on it. I try to “tweet” people or start conversations but no one responds. What’s the point of doing it if no one really gives a crap about what I have to say? Maybe I’m just overthinking it, or my cranky mood is showing, but jeez…haha
Sorry, I’m posting this late, but life kinda caught up to me. I had a fun shift on Wednesday covering the Fayette city pool. It’s an extremely old, above-ground pool built in 1936 in serious need of renovations. I came in with a few other ideas, none of which were particularly interesting to me (1. Marshall school district’s search for new elementary school site, and 2. heavy rain’s impact on local wineries). Jen liked the pool idea since it was going to be unmercifully hot, and I agreed. It sounded like a fun/interesting story we hadn’t covered before. So, I made a few calls to Fayette City Hall and, as is the case when doing stories outside of Columbia/Jefferson City, the people were much more helpful and willing to talk on-camera.
(Tangent warning): Wednesday was an absurdly busy day for reporters – it seemed packed with B2 people, VO patrollers, and such, so all of the KOMU Scions were taken by the time I was ready to leave. I got the idea to wrangle up the KOMU Ford Escape, and I managed to get the keys to it from Stacey, so I was excited to finally take it out for a spin. It’s like the forbidden fruit of KOMU cars – everyone seems to want to take it for a story, but it’s kept in the bullpen for use ONLY when necessary. Wednesday was my day, thankfully.
My thoughts on its driving performance: I liked sitting higher up than in the Scions. Definitely a little easier to see everything ahead and in general it had less blind spots than the stupid XBs. I think the fact it’s a Ford helps our street cred when I drive into little towns I’m prone to cover stories in – honestly, I think people look at the Scions and say “What the hell is that?” They’re way too edgy, “cool”, and attention-seeking for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have station vehicles we can use, but if I had a choice I’d take the Escape. It felt a little more masculine and macho than the Scion.
Anyway, back to its performance. It reminded me a lot of my old Ford Focus…it had a very heavy gas pedal and a similar 4-cylinder engine. It was somewhat underpowered because anytime I wanted to pass or accelerate on i-70 it would downshift and strain to speed up. I’m not sure about its gas mileage but fueleconomy.gov says it’s worse than the Scions, which is disappointing. Makes sense though because it was made in 2006, just before Ford started getting its act together about gas mileage. I liked the back window that opens up, so I don’t have to swing open the entire back door to get gear out. Otherwise, it was a fun experience to take a different car, hopefully I can do it again sometime.
Anyway, back to the reporting shift. I arrived in Fayette and stopped at the pool first. I got lucky and found Jake Hendrix, the maintenance guy I spoke with on-camera, and he let me into the facility. I shot some video of the inside, where things would need work, and on the upper level, where the actual pool is. Then, I went to Fayette City hall to talk with the City Administrator. She was helpful and I managed to get some good soundbites. After that, I went back to the pool, since I was told lifeguards would be there. I spoke with the main lifeguard there, and shot a little more video around the pool. Then, I tried to shoot a standup showing the plaque dedicating the pool to WW1 veterans. I did it and I was happy with it, but it had to be 100 degrees inside the little room with the plaque. I was sweating buckets and even with my best attempts to wipe it off with a lone towel I found on the floor, I still looked funny. After I snagged some lunch at “240 Culinary” in Fayette (very good – I highly recommend it!) I headed back to Columbia.
I had a vo/sot for the 5, a package for the 6, and a vo/sot for the 10. I experienced no problems whatsoever once I got back to the station. I even stuck around for a little while after I was finished to experience some of the severe weather craziness at the station – always a good time to hear angry callers upset about not being able to watch “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here!” It also felt safer to be at the station, surrounded by weather info, than in my apartment, on the top floor of its building. This was also the night the woman died in Finger Lakes Park from being struck by lightning, so the skies were pretty insane-looking.
Yesterday I covered the first meeting of the Missouri Auto Jobs Task force in Jefferson City. I came into the station with a few weak ideas, my main one about the potential closing of “Lover’s Leap” at the Lake of the Ozarks. But, since the weather was so bizarre yesterday, Stacey and I agreed it would be tough to do that story without being able to see the view that makes this “Lover’s Leap” so popular. With all the other reporters out on flood/accident/fire coverage stemming from the weather, I took that assignment. It sounded interesting anyway – I’m a car geek and I figured it would be intriguing to hear what the Task Force was up to. I got to the meeting, held in the Governor Office Building (not his house, or the Capitol – this building is on Madison St.) a few minutes after it began. It was a much smaller meeting than I expected. There were about 8 or 9 government/industry/representative people in the room with one other reporter. I didn’t use the lav mic at all and just relied on the boom mic. It picked up audio fairly well even with no speakers and a somewhat loud ventilation system, and I used several bites from the meeting where I just happened to be filming when people said interesting things. For instance, the Ford Motor Company representative spoke about centralized manufacturing plants, and I happened to be recording when he mentioned that. Same for the GM rep – right when I hit record, he was talking about how the company plans to start making a small, fuel-efficient car in the U.S. in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Tennessee. Otherwise, it was pretty standard BOPSA video, but I knew that would be something to work around.
I hit the road over to Mike Kehoe’s Ford dealership in Jefferson City since much of the meeting dealt with Ford’s interaction with state and local governments. I figured it would be good to get someone from the dealership to talk to, and get some of their cars on camera. I shot some video of the cars currently made in Ford’s Kansas City plant, and then some video of the ones made outside of Missouri – i.e. the small, fuel efficient cars that could be made in MO if “plant retooling” occurs with help from the state. I shot a standup in front of those – the Focuses and Fusions – and later spoke with Mike Kehoe himself on camera about the Task Force ideas. He was surprisingly friendly to me and understandably so since he is a relatively public figure in Jefferson City and in transportation politics of Missouri. I figured I had enough to make a good package – for me, this topic was really interesting, so even if it wasn’t humanized as much as it could have been (i.e. by finding a Mid-Mo parts supplier who might be affected by some of the Task Force’s ideas) I was still happy with what I had. It felt much more NEWS and TODAY than some of the stories I’ve done, so I didn’t mind the lack of humanization in the story. Throw in the economic impact, and I think it sort of makes up for the abundance of talking heads in the story.
I enjoyed a pretty easy Monday, preparing just a package for the 6 and a vo/sot/vo for the 10. Both aired in the A blocks. —– Interesting sidenote to my experience at the Kehoe dealership… When I first got there, it was raining very heavily. So, I did my best to finagle a plastic bag and umbrella out of the showroom so I could shoot some video outside without destroying the camera. As I was walking around, an old Pontiac coupe drove into the parking lot with some guy in the passenger seat and a woman driving. The man waved at me as they went past, and me being the “polite TV man” I waved back. I saw the man get out of the car and it was obvious he had some disability as he was using a walker to get around, yet didn’t appear too old.
By this time, the rain was torrential and I stood underneath the back door of the KOMU Scion to stay under cover. The woman who drove him walked him up to the door into the dealership holding an umbrella over his head while she got soaked. I was very confused. The rain subsided a bit and I went inside. I overheard conversation between a saleswoman and the man, apparently he wanted to test drive a Lincoln Town Car. I didn’t think much of it and kept doing my thing – shooting video and being a good reporter. I went back outside as the weather cleared up suddenly, and shot a standup. I saw the man get into the Town Car with his woman, and I saw them drive off, again, didn’t think much of it.
I shot my standup, and when I went back inside the dealership, I heard one of the managers answer his phone inside his office, listen for a moment, shout a few commands and say “I’LL BE RIGHT OVER”, and hang up. He came out of his office, visibly angry, looking for the saleswoman who let the semi-disabled man man test drive a $46,000+ car. He said quite loudly, “That man you let out in the Lincoln? Just got broadsided by the Papa Johns!” The rest of what they said was inconsequential, but I was just surprised that stuff like that actually happens – someone going out for a test drive in an expensive luxury vehicle and getting into an accident. I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the way the man behaved walking into the dealership (by that I mean his body language, conversation, physical appearance, etc) he did NOT seem fit to drive. On the other hand, he had a valid drivers’ license and insurance, so he was perfectly within his rights to take the car out for a drive. I guess it goes as one salesman said to me yesterday after the incident, “It’s tough, but we gotta let em drive.” And I’d imagine dealerships have a ton of insurance for this very purpose. Plus, I believe your insurance is liable if the accident is your fault when using a car like that.
On Wednesday, I covered Cole Camp’s reaction to the triple homicide inside the home of the Luetjen family. I came into KOMU with 3 completely unrelated story ideas – I pitched the missing alligator story, the new Fulton vandalism, and a follow-up to the story I did in Glasgow over spring break. We were leaning towards the alligator story but no one offered to take the Cole Camp story, and understandably so. I figured I’d take it but I had no idea how to cover the story. Chance Seales did a good job covering it the night before when it was publicized, and he passed along several emails with shocking (yet unconfirmed by officials) details about the crime. I felt this made my job tougher – to have to get through the grisly details to get a story. By the time we (I had another shadow with me) arrived at the crime scene, we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to cover the story – more on local reaction. There was very little new information available besides law enforcement officials calling it a triple homicide, so we had to take the humanized route and talk to a lot of Cole Camp residents.
So, when we got to the house, police tape surrounded it while a “mobile investigations unit” was set up outside the home. Several sheriff’s department vehicles and Cole Camp Police cars were outside too. As we approached, an officer came up to us to get our names and who we were with. I guess they were keeping tabs on everyone who came – I don’t know if that’s standard procedure or not, but I found that interesting. He told us we could not go beyond the police tape, and understandably so. The house’s location and surroundings were really good for video. It had some flowers out front with an American flag on it, with a church and playground across the street – providing an interesting visual paradox with the crime scene yellow tape. The officer on the scene would not comment on anything (as all other officials would do during our shift) so we really had no official source. We shot some video and left, and as we drove down the street we saw an old lady walking out to get her mail. We stopped and began talking to her – she was happy to talk to us on-camera, and she gave us some good bites. We then went to get some gas for the car, and while I gassed up I spoke with the station’s owner. He said Donnie Luetjen would come into the gas station nearly every day to get gas. Next door, at the Dairy Hut, we found several interesting characters who all knew the family. One man we found was good friends with Donnie Luetjen. All the people we spoke with had their suspicions on the details of the crime – i.e. the perpetrator, but naturally we didn’t want to “go there” on-camera and such. I shot a standup in the downtown area to try and show the quaint nature of Cole Camp. Otherwise there wasn’t much to it. I didn’t have much to show. Then we hit the road back.
We did an A-block vo/sot/vo for the 5, then an on-set A-block package for the 6. Then, a vo/sot/vo for the 10 with an update saying there would be a news conference at 10am Thursday for officials to give more details. I had a lot of help from my shadow, KOMU alum Holly (not Edgell…not sure what her last name is) whose experience at KFVS in Cape Girardeau was really helpful for my writing. She was also helped me out a lot with synthesizing the information and making our trip into a good package. Overall, while it was a sad/disturbing story, I thought I did a pretty good job. I also did a much better job of time management, making sure I was back to the station by about 1:50pm, so I wasn’t pressed for time. I thought my on-set went very well – no complaints about it, and the mic worked this time, so it felt like a rousing success. But, apparently I have no idea how to put on makeup. I need help with that. I’d love to get one of those professional makeup stylists to do my makeup before a show to save me the trouble…oh well…Not something I take too seriously, I guess, haha.