I’m with the press.
It’s been over a year since I’ve written an article. Over a year since my by-line was on anything other than this blog.
A strange feeling for a reporter.
Even stranger to then go cover an event.
I was very blessed to get the opportunity to cover the Boston municipal preliminary elections Tuesday night. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Boston politics, the current mayoral election is very important since current mayor, Thomas Menino, is leaving after 20 years in office. Most locals are a little turned up that he’s leaving. It’s what they’re used to; and it’s what many feel like they have always known. Not to mention, he’s fairly popular.
Anyway, so I got a great opportunity to cover the preliminaries for Boston University News Service.
This is one of the many reasons I chose Boston University.
They have television, radio, print and online all ran by students internally–and then they also have students working with other local publications.
I chose to cover the event from candidate John Connolly’s reception (he ended up being a winner by the way; and yes I picked his location on purpose not on luck). While I was there I met three other BU students covering in various other capacities both for BU and for other local media outlets.
Now, I’ve never covered politics before.
I follow it.
I read the news.
I read the analysis.
But I was always a sports girl.
I was a little nervous that some kind of reflex was going to kick in and my lede was going to say:
“City Councilman John Connolly rallied tonight, coming in second place with X number of votes. His record now stands 1-0 as he advances to the next round of the playoffs.”
But in seriousness, I went into the event knowing that I needed to be sensitive to a new game. (Literally, I cannot stop making sports references.)
All I can say is two things:
1) Thank God I had a friend to go with.
2) Thank God I’m taking advantage of learning opportunities.
On the Silver line to Roxbury. It’s hard to ride a bus carrying so much stuff. Back row.
I was proud of the final article I submitted. And excited to see it make print. But I definitely learned a number of things on the way that I feel worth sharing:
Don’t always take for granted the exact address given to you by the press spokesperson.
Mikaela and I showed up at the address that was given to us approximately two hours early and no one was there. It wasn’t because we were being over diligent on getting there in time–but a lot of other people went to polling locations and then the reception. Or they went to headquarters and then the reception. There was no one there! There was definitely a moment where we thought to ourselves. “Oh my. We have none of the news right now. We have no news.” Do your research, be diligent about exploring and seeking multiple locations. Our schedule wasn’t really conducive to allowing us to fully do this; but next time if we had a full day to delegate (and this was a full-time job) that’s definitely a consideration.
Be assertive about getting your story.
John Connolly’s reception was in Roxbury, which is a more diverse area of Boston. I’ll put it like this, there were a couple of times my camera was noticed on the street, two men called out “Hey blondie, how you doing?” and one of my interviewees talked about the prevalence of drug deals that happened in the area. If I hadn’t just had a little gumption to go out and get the interviews I needed on the street; I wouldn’t have had a story. Period. Know your surroundings. Be smart. But be brave, too. Sometimes you just have to go do it. For me, Boston is already a slight culture shock. That night in Roxbury (ha, no pun intended) was definitely vastly different than what I’m used to. I was proud for how I handled the reporting though.
This one I knew from sports reporting. The men you sit next to on the press row are the same ones who might offer you a ride to your car later or charge to your phone if you have to have it. The same was true on the camera line Tuesday night. My friend needed a longer cable and what do you know, a nice neighboring cameraman obliged. Lesson learned here though: always get their names. That way you can track them down later to return aforementioned items and offer a thanks. We ran into some hurdles with that later. . . .
Plan, plan, plan.
And have a realistic idea of what you want to accomplish.
Mikaela and I went armed with a video camera, audio recorders and notepads. I was trying to live blog, write a print story, shoot a television package and get audio.
I about lost my mind.
Maybe if I had been impeccably organized with a rundown of shot list, how long each shot should be; interviews and questions–it would have been more manageable. But in the heat of a first time reporting with a camera in tow? It was a lot.
Get a mule.
Less reasonable. Broadcast-J students have a lot of stuff to carry.
At 11:30 p.m. as I’m walking a mile home from the bus stop I’m realizing what a lovely predator target I could have been. Here I am carrying a backpack, a tripod and a big camera bag. Easily 30 pounds of stuff. And that’s a light load. Note to self, plan for cabs.
You can’t get a mule; but I should have planned ahead better about getting home so late and with so much (expensive) equipment slowing me down.
You know at the end of the day, politics weren’t so different than sports.
There’s a winner and there’s a loser. There’s a next game and there’s a strategy behind what just happened on the field. There are coaches and MVPs; fans and supporters; there are bandwagoners and there are hecklers. They just have different labels and the game may not all unfold under the stadium lights quite like sports–but there are more similarities than I imagined. Maybe that’s a blog for another day when I’ve covered as many government events as athletic ones.
John Connolly’s reception was a great event and election outcome to be covering.
But until then, I’ve at least crossed off one more 25 by 25 to be published in a new publication.
Not to put any pressure on myself, but there are still FIVE 25 by 25s to do before October 7; and that’s only 10 days away. I need to get going:
– Write a book proposal. (Pfft. I can already tell you–this sucker is not going to be checked off.)
– Volunteer time somewhere that really counts. Find a non-profit to dedicate passion. (Does volunteering with BUTV count? I need to check into this . . .)
– Try for other acting experience. (Yeah. About that.)
– Learn how to handle a firearm. Okay, and maybe shoot one too. (Damnit, I’ve had TWO friends attempt to cross this off with me this year and it just . . .hasn’t happened. Something tells me it would be easier if I were still in N.C.)
– See a play on Broadway. (This MIGHT be feasible.)
Wish me luck . . .