Swiss army knife journalism

Today I had the pleasure of working with a broadcast journalist. I was expecting her to rock up with a cameraman but today she was on her own with a considerable multi-task mission ahead of her. I stood back amazed as she rigged the tripod up, mounted the camera, adjusted the position, checked the frame, checked the lighting with a white piece of paper in front of the lens, checked the sound, put her headphones on, then started the interview. She said to me “the last thing I think of is the question, the set-up takes so long”. Yet she made it look so quick but complicated, buzzing round the camera, pulling levers, pressing buttons, like a little whirlwind before standing to the side of the camera and asking good questions to get some good responses for her film. I was impressed.

The whole time she was with us she was like someone possessed with an objective that none of us were entirely party to. She was entirely tuned in to what she wanted the end product to be and what shots she needed to get the right film clips that she could then string together back in the editing suite.

The best demonstration of this was when she had concluded a one to one interview. Obviously she couldn’t film herself listening to the interviewee and she needed some shots of this. So, to my amazement she turned the camera to a chair n the room, asked me to sit on it so that she could get the focus right. Once sorted she then sat in the chair whizzed her make-up bag out of her rucksack, shoved a ton of make-up on using the reflection in the camera lens as a mirror and then started nodding to herself in front of the camera, as if she was nodding in acknowledgement to what someone had said, except that someone was a big black motionless camera. To us she looked nuts, “It will all become clear once you see the film” she said.

Later on she did a ‘summing up’ piece to camera, which involved even more make-up and repeating the same sentence several times with me pressing the record button every time she was ready. I am looking forward to seeing the end result and how all her bizarre actions make complete sense once edited. I asked her about her journalism career and she said she enjoyed this job the most as she identifies the story, researches it, films, it and edits it for production. A true journalist and a true professional.

There were times though when she needed help. For example at one point, when interviewing my boss, she asked me to hold the boom mic to get the best sound. This involved me kneeling down next to his lap and holding the mic ‘just below his knee’ sat in his office like that in front of a large window for all the world to see, was a very comical and compromising position.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can donate to the campaign that would be great – visit my fundraising page here.

Thanks for reading.

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