Note quite back in the saddle but one foot in the stirrup

I got a call Friday morning from a local production facility. I had expressed an interest in any freelance work they might have available and I got a call wanting to know if I would be interested in doing some work on a news story in Selmer, Tennessee. It seems a young minster was found shot to death in the parsonage and his wife and three young daughters had disappeared, only to be found in L.A. (Lower Alabama). The caller said that some national folks out of Atlanta had called looking for a videographer and producer to round up some information and I would be the producer on this gig. I met up with a very nice young man who would be shooting the video and when I wasn’t on the phone with the folks in Atlanta and New York, we chatted while enjoying the drive to Selmer. Once in Selmer, it wasn’t hard to find the scene of the action. Four satellite trucks were set up outside Selmer city hall and there were cables and crews everywhere. The photog and I were trying to round up a couple of specific folks for the clients and we headed to the local Church of Christ where we found a sign on the door stating “No more interviews today”. I knocked on the door anyway and a nice but rather tired looking lady came to the door and we chatted briefly but she was insistent on not talking and I wasn’t going to push it. We later found the two people we were seeking and interviewed them and helped on a live talk-back with one of the townspeople for a cable news program. I ran into a number of folks from the Memphis affiliates and even one guy from Jackson, Tennessee I first met about 25-years ago. His name is Doug Viar and I have a story to tell about involving him but that will come perhaps later this week.
It was interesting being back in the saddle briefly on this still unfolding news event. I spent more time on the phone updating both sides along with the folks from the cable news than I did trying to round up interviews. I found it challenging to try to track down folks to talk about about this murder. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do too much convincing. The sad part is that coming from a small town and knowing how close knit the community can be, I felt like an intruder. I offered apologies to those we talked with and told them how much I personally appreciated their willingness to talk and that I hoped things got back to normal as soon as possible. It’s not going to be an easy thing. The wife confessed to the shooting and is charged with first degree murder. That means the three little girls will never really know their mother or father. Having lost my father in January after almost 50-years, my heart goes out to them.

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4 Comments on “Note quite back in the saddle but one foot in the stirrup”

  1. Joan Carr Says:

    Joe, glad to hear you’re doing some freelancing. I’m not surprised that the network folks are just as (or more) disorganized than the local affiliates are. I also found that to be true one the few occations I had the opportunity to field produce. After all, you’re talking about an organization with far-flung offices in New York and Atlanta trying to coordinate with local reporters and crew they’ve never even met on a story they know nothing about in a place they’ve never heard of. Although an old news director of mine insisted that doing T.V. “isn’t brain surgery,” coordinating live shots and satellite feeds can be challenging…then add in the journalistic challenge of just getting the story and getting it right when nobody wants to talk about it. It might not be brain surgery or rocket science, but you’ve got to hand it to the folks who do T.V. everyday…it can be a tough job. Of course the real pros (local and network) make it look so easy that the work doesn’t get the respect really it deserves.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    welcome to the pain of being an assignment editor.
    -drew

  3. AMNewsboy Says:

    Last year, I did a couple of semi-freelance jobs for one of the network morning shows… and I was appalled at a) how disorganized things were, b) how 5 people could be assigned to call the same people, at the same time, and c) how much they can BS people they want to be guests (by waving the “Diane/Katie/Matt/Charlie” carrot).

    It seems that the higher up you go (so to speak), the more convoluted and complicated things get.

  4. newsboyarizona Says:

    Doug Viar!!!!! I can’t believe he’s still at it. What’s the story, Joe? Do tell, please!


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