Friday, January 27, 2006

We've got to be there

Last semester, it was Melanie and Sandra taking advanced radio. This semester, it's Darcy and I who are truly getting "real education for the real world" (Concordia's motto) in the twice weekly 3-hour newsroom shifts that end with a complete newscast.

My Wednesday a.m. shift started on a tragic note with news of 17-year-old Brigitte Serre's shocking murder at a St. Leonard gas station.

This was a breaking story that definitely needed to be pursued, but how?

We're a bunch of students with no transportation except our feet and public transit, and St. Leonard is not close-by, especially since our "newsroom" - complete with phones, editing equipment, a spanking new real studio, and control room - is located on the Loyola campus, which is in Notre Dame de Grace (NDG). Plus, we don't really broadcast, except to our team, so there isn't THAT much of an incentive to get out there.

Yet, our hero Jared Book took the assignment like a true reporter and set off for the scene, armed with the address (found after some online sleuthing) and a public transit instruction sheet on how to get there.

He took Concordia's shuttle bus to get downtown, hopped on the Metro, then switched over to a bus for a 20-minute ride, and landed at the corner of Lacordaire and des Grandes Prairies to join all the other reporters. And oh yeah, he doesn't have a transit pass, so he had to pay for the trip out of his own pocket.

When we went "on-air" at noon, Jared was on the line, reporting live from St. Leonard, updating us on the situation and describing what he was seeing....including the bouquet of flowers that had already started arriving.

Flowers piling up does not seem like a big deal, and we wouldn't have known about them had Jared simply followed the story from our newsroom.

But the flowers - and how soon they arrived - are almost like the Richter scale of the community, giving us a sense of the strength of the jolt that this senseless murder has sent through the community.

It might not seem that important now, but when the story is developing, the flowers can just be that extra touch that makes a story human, and adds to its credibility.

The flowers are just a very small example, but unfortunately, too many of us try to sit back in the newsroom and tell the world about what's happening out there without ever being there. Thus, we miss out on the small things that make a story come alive, like the neighbour who trembles when speaking about what happened, the child who inquires about why there are so many police cars in the area following a shooting outside a daycare, and the real stories of people that back up the findings of a study (which would otherwise make for a dry story filled with numbers and findings).

That's why we've got to be there, whenever possible.


Anonymous wendy said...

i've said it before and will say it again - the advanced radio newsroom is the only course in the journalism department to truly fulfill concordia's mandate.
damn, i miss that course like crazy. the frenetic, adrenaline-pumping mayhem, the chugged coffee, people screaming at each other across the room, scribbling things on the board, counting down, the phone ringing off the hook, pounding the pavement for a live hit, rushing up the metro steps, standing in the middle of st-catherine street amidst a parade of 10,000 people with my minidisk recorder jammed up against the phone receiver... what a truly fantastic time. i don't think there was any point, and melanie and sandra can vouch for me on this, where we thought what we were doing didn't matter because it wasn't a "real" newscast. we took what we did very, very seriously. there's something truly magical about the teamwork that happens in that environment.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Melanie Holubowski said... miss it already...If there is one thing i miss about radio is the true nature of journalism that is lacking in all the other course:
Team work - it really is what is lacking with ConU journalism students. Everyone is so intent on "making it big", they forget the big picture - news does not happen with one person. You need a team.
News flash everyone - that news anchor that looks really good and sounds really smart...they have at least 20 people behind them to save their asses on air.

So D'arcy, Sikander and all you winter radio teams, enjoy the team work - build friendship and things will work smooth. If only j-students would stop being so narcissistic, we might be able to get more great stories out there.

5:00 PM  

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