Covering The First Lady
I had the privilege of covering First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to the Ozarks last month. While I know any mention of a White House name draws instant political lines, I consider it an honor to be able to report to our community on a member of the First Family, no matter what personal opinions may be. My experience started after I got several tips from KTTS listeners that Mrs. Obama would be at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Glenstone. (we broke the story here)
On the day of the event I actually had a problem with a station car so I had to rush back to switch it out. Then it was just a quick stop by the apartment to do a final equipment check and change into my suit before heading over to the Walmart.
I had an easier time that some of my print reporter friends getting past the security checkpoints since I was in a KTTS Mobile Unit (which makes it very hard to miss that you're with the news).
We dropped off all of our gear inside and got a basic idea of the layout before we were kicked out so the Secret Service could dig through our equipment. (Credit Reporter Jason Rima for reminding me that the guys in black suits like to play with all the buttons and settings on media toys, so always double check your settings when you get back).
I grabbed lunch with a colleague from PN Media before we headed back in. This time we get the joy of being wanded and patted down. The space we are crammed into probably has twenty to twenty five reporters, photographers, and video production folks.
Truly living the definition of a multi-media journalist, I would be recording the audio for our radio station, live tweeting, taking still photos with a DSLR, video recording, and oh yea....calling in live reports.
My newsroom was actually going on for a newscast just as sound checks were going on so I had to crawl behind a cooler and crouch down for my report. In case you've never tried it, sounding "authoritative" from a White House event while simultaneously trying to be whisper behind a cooler is easier said than done.
Mrs. Obama speech was very polished and she seemed genuine with everyone she interacted with.
I was disappointed (and still don't quite understand) why they didn't have a local radio pool. As one of the only 24-Hour News Centers in Southwest Missouri I found it odd that radio was excluded.
All the hype always seems to blow by once the man (err..woman) of the hour actually gets there. Fifteen minutes later you're being ushered into the parking lot wondering what just happened.
The feeling will past in a second though once you realize now all this raw media you just got needs to be edited.
Overall I know some local journalism veterans grown when they hear a member of the First Family is coming to town. They know it will just mean a day of dealing with security, equipment issues, and a lackluster performance they could have gotten from a pool report.
But I'm still the young guy on the block and love the excitement and adrenaline rush....so I say keep sending them my way!