Posts Tagged ‘reporting’
Reporting on the streets of Chicago during the winter months can get downright painful. This morning, we had wind chill factors of 21 below so just preparing for work took a lot of pre-planning. I suppose that’s the case for every Chicagoan who needs to get anywhere on days like this. But as a reporter, I often have no idea what I’ll be covering until I call into the Fox Chicago assignment desk. I keep an assortment of hats, gloves and scarves in my work bag and at least two coats in my car. Just about every reporter and anchor in town agrees that appearance is far less of a concern during the winter. Dressing properly for the conditions is a matter of survival!
Depending on the story, it can get tough finding anyone to interview about anything. When it’s this cold, people just want to get where they’re going as quickly as possible. Those who do stop to talk with me tend to make their points quickly and then go on their merry way. There are watery eyes and runny noses along with numb extremities. We get what we need and jump back into the news van.
Thank goodness for my blogging pal Duong Sheahan. The long, down parka I’ve been wearing is hers! She didn’t care for it since it was so much coat to deal with while running her errands. Well, it’s perfect for me since I spend much more time out in the cold.
Frozen equipment is another concern. Sometimes, the mast on the live truck gets frozen into place after we’ve been at a particular scene for a long time. There’s always suspense when we wrap things up on a cold day. But it’s not a problem today and I get back to the studio in time to anchor the news at noon.
Actually, the next hurdle – my hat hair!
There are always feelings of dread and ambivalence whenever I approach the home of a fallen soldier. I had to do it Friday morning after Fox Chicago got word that a suburban soldier was among those killed in the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
Soon after arriving at the family’s Bolingbrook home, I knocked on the door lightly with cameraman Ed Flynn ready to roll. A tired-looking man answered and said, “Please, we’ve been up all night. Maybe we’ll talk later but my parents are finally getting some rest.”
NBC5 reporter Phil Rogers agrees, “It’s the worst thing we do.” But he stresses it’s something journalists will always do. “Often, we have people who want their story told. We have to ring their bell.”
“Yeah, worst part” adds Jason Knowles, a reporter for ABC7 Chicago. “And we have to do it so often. But we always respect the family.”
Reporter Robert Sanchez of the Daily Herald says, “We don’t take pleasure in it. Unless we ask, we won’t know.” On occasion, he’ll hear from families days after his coverage of a fallen hero. “I’ve had people say thank you because now other people know how great they were.”
Throughout the day, we gradually learned more about 21-year-old Michael Pearson. The 2006 Bolingbrook High School graduate joined the army to serve his country and see the world. He was an amazing guy – a talented guitar player and playful uncle to young nieces and nephews.
Before his grief-stricken parents eventually addressed the media camped outside their home, a family friend wiped away tears as she told us, “Mikey was one of a kind. You couldn’t ask for a better son, brother, neighbor or friend. The family lost their gem.”
Most Chicagoans know the Windy City nickname is linked to blathering politicians and not the weather. But today, we had very windy weather in the Windy City making it tough to look composed while I reported outside the Willis Tower. Soon after my first live report at 6:30 this morning, a viewer commented on twitter, “I can see from your hair that it’s very windy outside. Don’t blow away!”
It’s tough to control the elements but our Fox Chicago crews do what they can to deal with them. Camerman Stuart Orlin (who’s camera shy) used sand bags to keep the light stand from blowing over. Then, he positioned me behind the live truck so it would block most of the wind. But that meant I had to stand on the light kit box since I was down on the street and Stuart was shooting from the sidewalk.
He couldn’t do anything about the gusts swirling around the skyscrapers. For me, that meant hair flying everywhere and many strands getting caught in my lip gloss.
The wind is nothing compared to the elements we’ll have to deal with in just a few more weeks.
Snow and sub-freezing temperatures are far tougher to work in. Many of us will be breaking out the parkas and serious winter gear soon.
As I messed with my messy hair, ABC7′s Charles Thomas stopped by the truck to say hello. Of course, he never has to worry about his hair blowing around.
Before we anchor Fox Chicago News at Noon, Patrick Elwood and I usually cover stories for “Good Day Chicago”. That means a lot of running around town. Well, Pat showed up for work today wearing some interesting new shoes.
I wasn’t the only one to mistake them for bowling shoes. They’re not. Pat loves that they’re flexible and far more comfortable than dress shoes. The rubber soles are perfect for chasing after whatever story comes his way.
People in the newsroom were eager to share their thoughts on Pat’s shoes:
I forgot to eat yesterday! I didn’t realize until this morning that I was so busy all day, I never had a chance to eat. Today wasn’t much better – only had time for a yogurt and coffee while on the way to my “Good Day Chicago” live shot in suburban Glenview.
In the news business, you often don’t know where you’ll be going or what you’ll be covering until that day. If there’s breaking news, you might even get diverted to something else entirely. The Fox Chicago camera guys are always saying, “Go to the bathroom when you can and eat when you can because you don’t know when the next chance will happen.”
Cameraman Sean Gibbons keeps an emergency stash of prepared foods in his backpack. But most of it is smashed and likely long expired. “How’s that taste?” I ask, regarding the mangled Reese’s peanut butter cup he downed while driving. He deadpans, “It tastes smashed and stale.” But it’s enough to fuel him through the morning shift.
By this afternoon, I was in Gary, Indiana to shoot a story set to air next week. Nothing like a reality check to put things in perspective. We followed NW Indiana Food Bank workers to a mobile pantry site where a long line awaited their arrival. For some people, it’s their first time requesting food aid. Each person received a big box of non-perishable items and even some fresh bread and vegetables.
Most of us have never known true hunger.
Got a hunger to help? Click here to join our Fox Chicago/Jewel-Osco “Give a little. Feed a lot” campaign. I’ll be live in Glendale Heights tomorrow morning during “Good Day Chicago”.