To Track or Not to Track, That is the Question

by - June 17, 2011

I've been working in television for nearly two years now, and if there's one thing I've learned about the business it's that it is truly a roller coaster ride.

Not only is every single day different, but you also come into contact with many different people.

A television station is synonymous with a train station. People are always coming and going as they climb the journalistic ladder or seek their 15 seconds of fame.

That 15 seconds of fame is starting to get a little more enticing on my end, especially this past week.

Now in the past I've talked about how I'd rather be behind the scenes of my newscasts, taking all of the different elements and figuring out how to put them all together in a way that makes sense.

So what's changed my mind? Well the answer is simple - electronic bingo.

If you've been with me long, then the controversy surrounding this game and the places that it's played in Alabama is nothing new. If not, check out my last bingo-related post In Like a Lion... and if you want a little more background information check out Political Pow-Wow.

The federal trial has been underway in Montgomery for the past 9 days. The first 5 of those days were solely for jury selection so it didn't make that big of an impact on our shows. The most interesting information to come out of those 5 days was the wide range of questions the potentials were asked and the huge list of potential witnesses for the prosecution.

The prosecution has 3 big witnesses. The first of those was called to the stand this past Monday where he's been until late Thursday afternoon. Once he was questioned, cross examined, re-cross examined and then cross examined again, the second of the big 3 was called on to testify.

Now these key witnesses are state lawmakers. They are mentioned in the indictment and are really the guys who'll make or break the prosecution's case, so that's made for some pretty in-depth coverage as far as our shows go.

In the early evening shows there's a reporter -one who's been at the station long enough to have decent background knowledge of everything bingo- who fronts something coming out of the case.

We also have a reporter/web master who's been in the courtroom from the very beginning posting up-to-the-minute blogs on our webchannel. So he's been funneling us the most up-to-date information and doing his best to get me sound to use on the late evening show.

Now here's where that enticing 15 seconds of fame comes into play.

My nightside reporter position is kind of in a state of limbo as of the past few weeks. Every night this week my reporter has been a newly-hired person who has no prior knowledge of the bingo battle that's been raging in Alabama for more than two years.

Ideally, the nightside reporter would wrap up the day's proceedings in a package at the top of the 10:00 show... but with the situation I find myself in with my fluctuating reporters that's not really possible. They don't know enough about the case to write the story.

So here's what's been happening. I've been writing something abbreviated for them to front using a 30-second piece of video and a 20-second or so sound bite. I refuse to write out an entire package and not get credit for it on air.

So here's what I've been thinking about doing - making my debut on air by recording a voice track and tying up the day's court proceedings nice and neat. The only problem with this idea is that I have a 35-minute show to write in addition to doing that.

But who knows. Maybe next week when court resumes I'll follow through with that train of thought... and people from my hometown will finally get to hear my voice on the news.

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  1. That's exciting, Ashton! If you do track a report please post it here on your blog. Better yet, do an on cam open and close and turn it into a package. If it works you could make the switch to reporter and/or anchor if that's the direction you want to go. It always helps to show the powers that be how many different things you are capable of doing and doing well.

    I can't help wondering how you would be handling your producing duties if you worked in the Orlando market and were immersed in the Casey Anthony trial. Today the defense calls its star witness to the stand. Should be very interesting testimony!

  2. I don't know that I want to report. I enjoy it once I've actually gotten through the information gathering part and am actually putting it all together... but I truly hate setting up interviews. I don't want to have to cover a beat and all that not-fun stuff.