I recently completed a 4-month long project during the course of the Georgia General Assembly’s 2010 session; from opening day to Sine Die (last day)… give or take a week or two off here and there when the legislators had to excuse themselves to, like, go figure stuff out.
CBS-Atlanta had no designated political reporter at the onset of the project, that began in January of 2010. They needed to supplement their broadcast product with targeted, specialized online media. Not more “Tough Questions” ambush-style product (Saltzman is perfectly capable of THAT gig all by her scowling self), but with more feature-type of media offerings from a seasoned reporter who understands Georgia politics.
Baxter delivered the goods. At times it seemed as if there wasn’t a single person, of the daily hordes walking up the gorgeous marble staircases of the State Capitol, that he didn’t have a full bio on… stored in his usually-in-need-of-combing head. In four months of activity, I saw only one politician refuse an interview request with Baxter, and that was a pol who had just been demoted by the House Majority (or Senate, I forget) leadership, so the pol had to go off and lick his wounds, thus brushing-off Mr. B. in his haste to process all that new-bad karma.
So well regarded was Mr. B in the long history of work he’s done in southern political (print) journalism that powerful people seek him out to have a moment with him. Hell, the dude could just stand in the hall with a mic turned on (as I rolled media card) and every single person in the Capitol would come by to say their piece – and be delighted to be doing so. It makes ’em feel special.
Baxter doesn’t deal in rumor and innuendo. Nor commando-style microphone shoving into faces whilst yelling ridiculous questions. All you’re ever going to get from a bizarre method like that is decades of resentment. You’re certainly not going to forge relationships. More like you’re just banishing yourself into the political wilderness, for no apparent reason, where you’ll be left alone with no one to go on the record for you when you might need them, say ten years down the road of your mutual careers in politics and/or journalism.
That or either you’re in it for your personal careerism, perhaps thinking you are getting yourself off to that mythical place that no longer exists called “the networks.” Like anyone wants to go THERE nowadays. It’d would be the journalistic equivalent of being shipped to Siberia if you ask me, which of course no one did.
Politics is local. Anything you do at the national level is just pack mentality pointlessness of rote meme recitation to mass media consuming drones. For a bigger paycheck and a whopping mortgage in Arlington, VA, with Ivy League to pay out the ass for bratty kids who should be sent to community college anyway.
For the most part, other than a wild flame-out or two here and there, politics is a long haul endeavor. And if you don’t cover it with that in mind you’ll get nothing. Nada. (Just ask Dale Russell.) If you don’t ask nicely, you’ve just made yourself a career-long enemy… if you are young, unwise, and think that is how news must be churned – with impolite, disrespectful behaviors as a motivator. And you can go back to your newsroom and call it news if you wish. Or a report. But trust me, it will not be journalism.
Baxter is a genuine journalist. The news he writes and the stories he tells come from the people in power and elsewhere who are willing to go on the record and talk openly and with transparency about the political process. And there are never just two sides of a story. Rather, especially in politics, it’s more like there are 10-15 sides of a story. Baxter lets ’em all whisper their various POVs in his ear, weighs all the chatter with his years of experience in the game, and then he writes. Or in our multimedia case, talks out perfectly crafted sentences off the top of his head – no script, no rehearsal. Dude was a born TV broadcaster and never knew it!
Anyway… getting to the point of this blog post, which was supposed to be about money and budgets, but if you’re going to entertain a thought towards southern politics Baxter will get your attentions. So, on to the point… here’s the gear list and pricing (retail) for what amounted to a series, an archive really, of about 30 videos. 30 videos, most in the 3-minute range, that incorporate what will be Georgia’s 2010 political history. And yes, I wish news orgs would see themselves more as archivists and librarians who also exist to serve the greater historical good, but that’s a whole other discussion, eh?
- Camera, Kodak Zi8: $170. on sale at Target
- Tripod, some cheap crap off of eBay – $30. (will not last longer than a few weeks without breaking, but if you’re going cheap you work with what you got, right?)
- 8-gig memory card – about $40.
- Adobe Premier editing software package – about $100.
- Audio-Technica Pro 24 external mic – $100.
So there. For under $500. you too can get yourself a multimedia broadcast production facility. Moreorless. Of course that’s just the gear. You must then determine just how much time and cost you are going to invest in your multimedia online endeavor. What is worth the multimedia online treatment in your shop? And what is it worth to you in this social media, online world we’re all creating and growing day by day?
You tell me. Or better yet… let WaySouth Media tell you.