Earlier this week, my main grad professor/adviser/program director/surrogate mom/occasional pizza provider Yvonne Latty sent my classmates and I out on an assignment: we had 11 hours to find a story, report on it and turn it around into an article, audio segment or video. Because it was a nasty, rainy day, and because we complained like babies, she allowed us to partner up and venture into the wide city with a friend.
So Alex Zuccaro and I gathered our equipment — two DSLR cameras, two umbrellas, one videocamera, one microphone, one fancy recorder and one tripod — and boarded a train, headed for the great, untamed North: the Bronx.
We were on our way to Yankee Stadium, where Opening Day had been postponed on account of the near-freezing temperature and nonstop rain.
If you've ever wondered what it's like trying to shoot a video in the cold rain, well — it sucks. It's not something I would recommend to just anyone on the street.
Alex and I, on the other hand, are journalists. We're hardened professionals, trained for these kinds of events, strengthened and forged through fire. We are equipped to handle the worst. So, bravely, we ventured into the storm.
And whined and moaned all through the day as we navigated a crowded 4-train, splashed through the rain and tried to shoot a stand-up in the downpour.
We visited no fewer than 6 businesses dedicated to selling Yankee paraphernalia, only to be turned away because the employees weren't authorized to speak to the press. We walked a nice circle around the stadium — like the Israelites going around Jericho, I joked — and finally, luckily, stumbled upon disgruntled fans willing to tell us their story.
The best part of the story is that Alex and I are both mainly print journalists — meaning we write. We don't lug cameras and tripods around, setting up shots right and interviewing people on camera.
But we did on Monday. Because grad school is all about stretching yourself, and Alex is really good at that :)
And it was a stretching experience for me, too. I like the idea of being a video journalist more than the reality of it. I'm not a fan of boatloads of equipment, struggling to get the shot set up while my sources wait in the rain and I'm definitely a better writer than I am video editor.
But it was fun to spend a day moonlighting as a pseudo-video journalist. While I wasn't the one shooting a stand-up or editing the video, I did my part by helping out where I could and holding the microphone. And I realized that video journalism is way more fun when you have a partner.
Print journalism is geared toward the lone wolves of the population, the people who can just run out of the office with a recorder and a pencil and whip up a story.
Video journalism, on the other hand, is a team effort. And I like that; I like working in a team.
Now, don't take this as me saying I'm going to swear off writing — I think my soul would shrivel up and die if I did that! I'm just saying, I like the camaraderie aspect of video reporting.
And in the end, my reporting trip to the Bronx wasn't all bad. It was really good to get back in the swing of things, reporting on deadline and remembering why I got into this field in the first place. And even though it was cold and rainy and I was not wearing the right jacket (or shoes), I made some great memories and had fun.
And what more can you ask for from a reporting trip?
Oh, yeah. A published piece.