Tag Archives: tips

Loose DeKalb Lips Make Waves (Of Oppression) For AJC

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Ahoy! Botched metaphor. I know.

Loose lips might sink ships, circa 1942, but they never torpedoed any ships of journalism. To the contrary. Lip flappers, whistleblowers, gossips and media whores power and embolden entire journalism empires, causing ships to rise off of copy tides. Just look at the numbers for the Guardian empire lately. Off the charts!

Over in less high profile seas, say here down South, in today’s 1-minute news cycle there really is no such thing as a genuine “scoop” brought about by wildly exclusive information. Except when there (rarely) is, of course.

But don’t tell that to the powers-that-be at the AJC, as they’re lashing any remaining, hardworking reporter-bees left on their deck to the mast and thrashing them mightily, as punishment for having failed to sight enough scoops in their cruddy little scopes.

Two independent sources have now told me how Atlanta Journal & Constitution reporters, good ones, are being “written up” (or threatened with some type of disciplinary action) for failing to bring home the bacon fast enough. Failing to reel in genuine news “scoops.”

(“Scoops” being 100% exclusive 411 about specific, non-public events – but before the event occurs, allowing for a news organization to be first out of the gate on disseminating word of that particular news situation; to “own the story” in other words, something that’s increasingly hard to do in our hyper-connected world unless Edward Snowden or Julian Assange just happens to waltz by your office and dump raw intel on your desk. And “written up” being a documented threat by one’s superior to take away one’s job, rank, authority, paycheck and/or general livelihood should you, the super’s underling, not perform in some sort of, subjectively, better manner.)

Mark Winne at WSB-TV, for example, often gets genuine scoops about soon-to-be-made arrests by various Georgia law enforcement, and is thus frequently the first and only reporter in place for that classic, high-value video, law enforcement-enhancing moment – ye olde perp walk.

Of course it’s one of those open secrets in Atlanta old media circles that Winne’s brother is an FBI or GBI agent (I forget which agency) who tips his family member, Mark, off to lots of special events soon to happen. If that’s the case, they’ve had a lock on a good-visuals franchise for years now, and will continue at that game for as long as the gig works, I suppose.

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Old Field Producer’s Hurricane Coverage Survival Tips

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1.) Bring a large bag of quarters with you when heading out to the hurricane. Upon arrival, immediately use it to empty out the hotel hallway vending machine before all the other journos get there.

2.) Never leave the hotel. If you must leave, then never leave the crew van. Satellite trucks are preferred vehicles. They don’t blow over too easily.

3.) Satellite truck operators always stash extra rain gear in truck. Steal it when they’re not looking.

4.) If you can’t bring yourself to steal stuff, barter for extra rain gear with booty from vending machines. You’ll need it. Snickers bars are most valuable.

5.) Bring extra AA batteries and extra dry tube socks (men’s). Use for currency to get first feed priviledges from sat. truck operator if only one truck is operational for entire country’s network news providers.

6.) Don’t look in other journos’ hotel rooms. You want to be able to say you know nothing when all of you are returned to civilian life.

7.) Make friends with the fattest first-responder in charge first. They won’t want to have to walk anywhere either, and they may offer you a ride in their super-duper motorized whatever.

8.) Bring drugs, beer and ice. Share only with those who’s hotel rooms have all four walls left.

9.) Law-enforcement will lie their butts off to journalists. For sport. Never trust them for start/end presser times. Or for directions.

10.) Everyone around you will wig-out from stress and sleep-dep long before you do because they all think they’re too important to the disaster recovery effort for sleep. Get your 8-hours and they’ll make you president by Week 2.

11.) Stay on-scene post-hurricane as long as you possibly can. Milk the post-disaster scene for all the dopey, cliched features you can. Your paycheck, once you load all your OT onto your time sheet, will do the happy dance when you do get back.

12.) Never drink until you’ve fed everything to NY. And the sat. truck has powered down. If NY desk calls you to feed something after you’ve started drinking tell them the sat. truck has to save gas for the morning shows.

13.) Buy the hotel bar a round by first or second night on scene. During a hurricane it’ll just be full of other media. They’ll get you back when you’re all still there 10 days later.

14.) Don’t forget to get your mean, grouchy, sleep-deprived cameraperson to get the final shot when all is said and done.

  • EXAMPLE: When Dr. Bob Sheets finally left the broadcast desk at the National Hurricane Center after two solid weeks of around-the-clock coverage before, during and after Hurricane Andrew (in which his own home had been destroyed) one veteran network news producer had the great cinematic sense to order his cameraman to get the shot of Sheets laying down the lav mic and walking away.

15.) Try not to swagger in front of the desk jockeys when you get back to the newsroom.